Inaugural High Desert Innovation Week Showcases Entrepreneurs & Startup Support Organizations throughout Oregon


(Photo courtesy of EDCO)

This October, organizations from across Oregon are gathering to showcase the unique startup resources and collaborative culture that make Oregon a hub for entrepreneurship as part of the Inaugural High Desert Innovation Week, October 16-20, 2023, an event organized by Bend Startup Central, Cultivate Bend, Built Oregon, Bend Outdoor Worx, VertueLab and Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO).

The event features five days of celebration of craft, innovation, and community that will offer opportunities across industries, ranging from consumer product goods to climate tech and outdoors. Each day will be filled with startup showcases, networking opportunities, inspiring talks from industry and community leaders, educational sessions, bootcamps, pitch events, and investment awards.

“We are thrilled to see High Desert Innovation Week come to fruition this October,” said Kevney Dugan, CEO and president of Visit Bend. “Bend has established itself as a hub for innovation and creativity, and this event is testament to that fact. At Visit Bend, we truly believe that Bend has all the necessary ingredients to continue to thrive as a startup hub. We hope that this effort will inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.”

Activities By Day:

Monday, October 16, 2023
High Desert Innovation Fest by Bend Startup Central

Open Space Event Studio | 3-5:30pm
The High Desert Innovation Fest is a unique event where aspiring entrepreneurs from across the PNW get the opportunity to pitch their innovative ideas and network with a diverse audience of industry professionals, investors, and founders. At its core, High Desert Innovation Fest is a startup competition where experienced and aspiring entrepreneurs from across the Pacific Northwest come and pitch their ideas, meet industry professionals, investors, and receive the resources they need to turn a vision into reality.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023
Built Festival by Built Oregon and Cultivate Bend

Oregon State University-Cascades | 12-6:30pm
The Built Festival is “Cultivated in Oregon. Built by Community.” This year, with the ongoing support of Travel Oregon, Built Festival will feature fireside chats and panel discussions between industry founders, leaders, and community members. Each one will inspire, inform and look to spark conversations around Oregon’s unique place within the consumer product ecosystem. The event will take place throughout the afternoon with ample time for networking and community building, including a happy hour reception. In addition, we will have a marketplace featuring Cultivate Bend member companies, businesses from the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, and the Built Oregon Accelerator.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023
Bend Outdoor Worx (BOW) Bootcamp
Open Space Event Studios | 8:30am-1:30pm
BOW, the country’s first outdoor accelerator, will offer educational sessions on marketing, funding and founders’ stories. Attend one or all three sessions for in-depth panel discussions with time for Q&A, networking with outdoor industry experts, and a silent auction with amazing outdoor gear. This event kicks off BOW’s incubator program which consists of a 14-week program followed by four monthly sessions. Selected companies receive mentorship, e-commerce coaching, branding, accounting & legal consulting, and more.

Badass Women Entrepreneurs by VertueLab
Location TBD | 12-1:30pm
Badass Women Entrepreneurs celebrates groundbreaking women who have founded science-based businesses; highlights funding opportunities and support resources; and connects emerging trailblazers and climate tech professionals. Through this event, VertueLab seeks to inspire the next generation of inventors and scientists by amplifying the voices and stories of current pioneers who are actively shaping and building a brighter future. Attendees are invited to honor and uplift amazing women who are doing novel work in their fields and showing just how possible it is to create a successful career in the sciences and within climate tech.

Bend Outdoor Worx (BOW) Breakout Pitch Event
Open Space Event Studios | 6-8:45pm
BOW, the country’s first outdoor accelerator, will bring to the stage four early-stage or growth-stage cohort companies to compete for cash prizes. Watch as the 2023 BOW Cohort Companies pitch and vote for your favorite! Listen to Co-owners of Ruffwear, Patrick Kruse and Will Blount, share their inspiring and insightful brand story, network with outdoor industry experts and business owners and join a growing outdoor community.

Thursday, October 19, 2023
Bend Venture Conference (BVC) by Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO)
The Tower Theatre & Tetherow Resort | 10am-7pm
Bend Venture Conference is one of the longest standing and largest angel conferences in the Pacific Northwest. Thursday’s agenda kicks off with pre-conference education seminars focused on strengthening startup business foundations across industries. Following the seminars, attendees will watch as Early Stage finalists will pitch at the Tower Theatre for a chance at $25,000 investment by Portland Seed Fund. The evening ends at Tetherow Resort for the BVC Networking Reception, Central Oregon’s biggest networking reception of the year.

Friday, October 20, 2023
Bend Venture Conference (BVC) by Economic Development for Central Oregon (EDCO)
The Tower Theatre & Tetherow Resort | 8:30am-5pm
Bend Venture Conference is one of the longest standing and largest angel conferences in the Pacific Northwest. Friday’s agenda will be filled with networking opportunities. Following breakfast, the event kicks off with a presentation by Joth Ricci, CEO of Dutch Bros Coffee, who led the company through its 2021 IPO. The day will feature pitch events for the Growth Stage and Impact Track BVC finalists and commence with a winner’s ceremony and check presentations at The Oxford Hotel.

Speaking on behalf of the committee of organizers, Kyle McLeod of CO Innovation Network said, “High Desert Innovation Week 2023 is the first step towards a greater vision for innovation and business development in Central Oregon. As entrepreneurial groups continue to emerge and grow and more people move to this beautiful place, there has never been a better time than now to come together. The breadth and depth of entrepreneurial resources in Central Oregon is larger than it’s ever been; from manufacturing, outdoor products, tech, natural products and beyond, Central Oregon is and will continue to grow as a hub of innovation and an amazing locale to build thriving businesses. We are all looking forward to coming together for this amazing week, and building a lasting legacy in this place we call home.”

More details and registration links for all the week’s activities can be found at

About High Desert Innovation Week:
High Desert Innovation Week is a celebration of entrepreneurship, craft, innovation, and community. From consumer product goods to the outdoor, climate and technology industries, this is an opportunity to see and experience the collaborative energy and resources that make Oregon a hub for entrepreneurship.


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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. •

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