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WTC awards 1999 research and technology development projects

Washington's technology-based companies are getting a boost in their R&D;, thanks to the technical assistance and funding provided by Washington Technology Center (WTC). In July 1999, WTC awarded over $1.4 million in R&D; funding to 14 company / university research teams through its Research & Technology Development (RTD) Program. The RTD program is one of three WTC funding mechanisms that helps companies develop, refine, or test new products using the expertise of research at the state's universites.

This year's round of projects aims to make advances in areas as diverse as bloodless surgery, patented nutraceuticals, and rocket science. A summary of these collaborations is featured below.

Company partners have projected product revenues generated by these projects to exceed $300 million by 2002, and that more than 400 high tech jobs will created by 2004.

Effective in 1999, the RTD program will be offered twice per year. Proposals are beings solicited now for the next round of RTD projects which will be awarded in December 1999.

Awards in Biotechnology / Biomedical Devices

EKOS Corporation, Bothell
Researcher: Lawrence Crum, UW Applied Physics Lab
EKOS is a medical device company founded in 1995 to commercialize ultrasound technology for therapeutic use. The company's first product is an ultrasound-tipped catheter that could accelerate the effectiveness of blood clot dissolving drugs. The focus of this project will be to determine the physical characteristics of microbubbles that enhance the ultrasound mediated dissolution of blood clots.

MCD Technologies, Inc., Tacoma
Researcher: Juming Tang, WSU Dept. of Biological Systems Engineering
MCD Technologies manufactures novel food drying systems based on its patented Refractance Window(tm) technology which can dry food products such as fruits, vegetables and herbs in a few minutes as opposed to several hours for conventional food drying methods, and with better food quality. The focus of this project will be to study application methods to optimize the Refractance Window(tm) drying systems with a wider variety of foods.

Decagon Devices, Inc., Pullman
Researcher: Dr. Markus Flury, WSU Dept. of Crop & Soil Sciences
Decagon Devices, Inc., manufactures and markets instruments for food quality testing and environmental research. Their current customer list is 80% of the top 100 food companies in the U.S. This research project will further develop a prototype instrument that measures the freezing characteristics of hydrated foods, soils, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics.

Applied Phytologics, Inc., Pullman
Researcher: Diter von Wettstein, WSU Dept. of Crop & Soil Sciences
Applied Phytologics is a plant-based life science company. Using plant genetics technology, the researcher and company will develop a new strain of barley grain to be grown in Washington state that can be used as chicken feed for broiler chickens. Currently, Washington imports corn as the primary source of feed at significant cost; yet barley is among the top ten agricultural commodities grown in the state. If successful, this project will benefit both barley farmers and chicken growers in Washington.

Söliv, Seattle
Researcher: Robert Waaland, UW Dept. of Botany
Söliv, a Seattle start-up, has discovered and created a new, high value skin care product from seaweed indigenous to the Puget Sound region. The project proposes to adapt and improve intensive cultivation methods developed at the UW in order to grow this marine plant on a commercial scale. The seaweed will be used as an ingredient in skin care products to be marketed to spas as a nutraceutical.

Therus Corporation, Seattle
Researcher: Peter Kaczkowski, UW Applied Physics Lab
Using UW technology, Therus Corporation aims to further the development of a hand-held surgical wand that uses high-intensity ultrasound (HIFU) to stop internal bleeding and to selectively kill abnormal tissue within the body without having to make an incision. The "TheraStat" device delivers ultrasound to a targeted site within the body at a level of 1,000 times higher than that used for diagnostic purposes. Initial uses for the surgical instrument include stopping bleeding caused by trauma or injuries, and for controlling bleeding during surgery.

Saigene Corporation, Redmond
Researcher: Bruce Darling, UW Dept. of Electrical Engineering
Saigene is a biotech start-up specializing in DNA probe based diagnostics. This research project proposes to generate a food and water pathogen detection procedure that can test for disease causing bacteria in less than one hour. Current methods for testing foods can take up to 7 days, requiring that fresh foods be held during this process, thereby diminishing the freshness of the final delivered product.

Awards in Computer Systems

Argo Technical Publishing, Inc., Spokane
Researcher: Steven Simmons, EWU Dept. of Computer Science
Argo Technical Publishing has been publishing technical documentation and distance learning courseware in electronic formats since 1993. This project will produce a new software utility that adds two-way voice interaction to their multi-media CD-ROM products, to be used for training, documentation and reference in industrial environments. An example of how this system could be used would be to transmit images & instruction to an emergency response team member on the correct response for an acid spill while en route to a tank truck accident.

IST-Quadtek, Inc., Redmond
Researcher: Jeng-Neng Hwang, UW Dept. of Electrical Engineering
IST-Quadtek offers a unique video camera / pyrometer (thermometer) system for monitoring conditions inside hot environments such as industrial furnaces. This project will develop an advanced real-time image enhancement PC board to enhance the image quality for their product that provides video monitoring of cement kiln processes. The challenge is to present clear pictures of dirty environments - where current video imaging systems fail.

Awards in Advanced Materials & Manufacturing

Hovair Systems, Inc., Seattle
Researcher: Brian Fabien, UW Dept. of Mechanical Engineering
Hovair Systems designs and manufactures material transport systems, primarily for heavy industrial applications. The new WTC project will address the structural, vibration and electronic controller issues required to reduce the cycle time for the Hovair Lift & Carry Tower Systems for automobile assembly-line use.

Mikron Industries, Inc., Kent
Researcher: Vipin Kumar, UW Dept. of Mechanical Engineering
Mikron supplies extruded plastic profiles for use by the vinyl window and door industry. The project will implement a novel microcellular plastic processing technique developed at the UW to reduce polyvinyl chloride material consumption, while increasing the insulating properties and structural strength of the company's products.

Radiant Optics, Inc., Woodinville
Researcher: Thomas Stoebe, UW Dept. of Materials Science & Engineering
Radiant Optics manufactures a unique and highly efficient heater which delivers focused heat within a designated area. This project will design a ceramic heating element to replace a more conventional metal element to increase reliability and efficiency of the spot heater.

Related WTC links:

  • RTD Grant Program

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  • MEMS'99 Workshop set for September 15, 1999

    MEMS (microelectromechanical systems) is the miniaturization and integration of electronic, mechanical, chemical, optical and / or fluidic functions to form devices that sense, diagnose, and respond to external conditions. Currently, the majority of MEMS devices are deployed in the auto industry (airbag accelerometers, anti-lock braking systems) and in the computer industry (inkjet printer heads and read / write heads). Commercial sales of MEMS devices are projected to grow 20–30% in the next few years, peaking at an estimated $11 billion by 2003. A key factor influencing this growth will be the dissemination of information on the MEMS marketplace to companies that can capitalize on it. WTC's MEMS'99 Workshop provides an ideal forum for this exchange. This year's workshop will feature:

    -- Insight on obtaining federal funding for MEMS R&D.;
    -- A preview of exciting, new applications in microfluidics, optical MEMS, and other devices.
    -- A forecast for the future of MEMS commercial applications.
    -- An overview of new equipment available to Washington industry.

    The conference will be held at the Aljoya Conference Center (formerly Battelle Conference Center) in Seattle.

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