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WTC releases first statewide technology index report

For Immediate Release: March 9, 2000

Washington leads nation in creation of new high-tech industries

Seattle - Washington state leads the nation in the creation rate of new companies and ranks sixth in the growth of technology employment by startup firms.

According to WTC's Index of Innovation and Technology for Washington State, Washington's rate of new company creation is more than 20 percent higher than California, the state next most effective. Washington's rate is more than double the median rate for all states. Other highlights from the report include:

-- Washington has 12 technology-based sections that are above the national average in industry dominance.

-- The aircraft industry still employs the majority of technology workers, but that percentage has decreased from 59% of total technology employment to 39 percent. Software increased to 23%.

-- Patents issued to companies and individuals in Washington State increased 166 percent from 1994-1998.

-- Venture capital investment in the Pacific Northwest is highest in software and telecommunications.

"The data emphasize the need to support small technology companies since they have been the engine for growth and diversification in Washington's high-tech industries," says Lee Cheatham, Ph.D., WTC executive director and co-author of the report. "The state has a role to play through direct investment in technology and education and by creating an environment that helps attract outside investment."

Martha Choe, Director of Washington State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development, agrees, "Understanding the impact technology has on Washington's economy is central to CTED's plan to foster economic growth statewide. WTC's work on this report, and in its core mission of helping Washington companies develop technology, helps take us to the next level in that effort."

The report provides comparative data from over 30 different sources, and establishes a benchmark for assessing Washington's progress in growing a technology-based economy. It is co-authored by Dr. Paul Sommers, Senior Research Fellow with the UW Northwest Policy Center and a member of Governor Locke's Council of Economic Advisors.

Related WTC links:

  • 2000 Index of Innovation and Technology for Washington State

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  • WTC gathering input for new initiative

    With the MEMS Initiative entering its fourth and final year of funding, WTC is conducting research into new technical areas for its next initiative. Focus groups, consisting of industry representatives and university researchers, were recently conducted by WTC in the areas of photonics, telecommunications and speech / audio technologies.

    A focus group in emerging energy technologies has been scheduled for April 20, 2000 in Spokane. Nano-biotechnology / bioinformatics is another area under consideration.

    The objectives of the focus groups are to identify technical needs of industry and available resources at the state's universities. After results of the meetings are reviewed, one or more of the initiatives will be selected by WTC's Board of Directors to be included in its budget request to the state legislature for the 2001-2003 biennium.

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    MesoSystems' new "smart" coatings collect deadly airborne pathogens

    For Immediate Release: March 24, 2000

    WTC sponsors research in biological warfare detection systems

    Seattle - MesoSystems, a Richland, Wash. biotechnology, company has teamed with Buddy Ratner, UW Bioengineered Materials Program, to develop thermally responsive "smart" coatings for an air sampler that collects airborne pathogens such as anthrax for rapid detection. WTC established the research partnership and is funding the project through its MEMS Initiative.

    MesoSystems, Inc. released the device, Realtime BioCapture™, on the market a few months ago. When used with Mesosystems' companion product, RealTime BioSensor™, the system is capable of detecting the presence of disease-causing microbes in minutes.

    Originally created for the military, BioCapture equips emergency responders such as police, firefighters and medical personnel to respond to biological terrorist attacks. "Current methods for detecting airborne pathogens take at least 24 hours because the air samples need to be incubated," says Chuck Call, President of MesoSystems. "BioCapture is an important new product for emergency responders because it reduces the amount of time personnel spend inside the hot zone." The device is currently being field tested by fire departments in major metropolitan areas, including the City of Seattle. Other uses for the product include monitoring for airborne infections in hospitals and microbiological hazards in meat packing facilities

    New coatings being developed will enhance the air sampler's efficiency in collecting, concentrating and isolating pathogens. At room temperature, pathogens stick to the coatings, like flies to fly paper. When heated, the pathogens separate from the coating for analysis. Established in 1998, MesoSystems has grown from two to 24 people, and predicts 100% revenue growth this year. Their primary markets are military and civilian defense, medical and public health markets.

    Related WTC links:

  • MesoSystems is a WTC client

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  • New material meets need for microwave communications

    Microwave communications systems offer high-speed line-of-sight wireless data transmission for applications such as mobile telephony products, satellite broadcasting and defense communications. Components of the vacuum tubes that generate microwaves contain beryllia (BeO), which was recently listed as a hazardous material by the Environmental Protection Agency. That classification has necessitated the development of an alternative material.

    Sienna Technologies, Inc. (STI), Woodinville, had developed a ceramic material based on aluminum nitride (AlN) that could substitute for BeO, but the company lacked the equipment and technology to test the material's performance under microwave frequencies. STI teamed with Yasuo Kuga, UW Electrical Engineering Dept., on an FTI project that would accomplish this objective.

    "Timing was everything on this project," says Ender Savrun, president of STI. "Professor Kuga and his team came through beautifully for us. Not only did we get access to equipment we needed, but Kuga came up with a measuring technique that validated our product."

    The company realized sales from the product before the project was officially over, including a $600,000 contract with the Navy to develop vacuum tube components for defense communications. The Navy also contributed $100,000 toward Kuga's efforts to make the measurement technique user-friendlier.

    Company growth has been another result of the project. A six-person company at the start of the project, STI recently hired two more employees and plans to add two more within the next three months. According to Savrun, "This is only the beginning."
    Related WTC links:

  • Sienna Technologies, Inc. is a WTC client

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  • LizardTech focuses on high-resolution images for wireless networks

    LizardTech, Seattle, is a developer of image compression software that gives users the ability to reduce the file size of large images by as much as 40 to 1 with no loss of resolution. This compression utility, called MrSID, allows image managers the flexibility to store and distribute images through a variety of channels including local computer networks or over the Internet. Current markets for the product are geospatial imagery such as maps and aerial photography, publishing, and health care imagery.

    WTC is funding an FTI project between LizardTech and Eve Riskin, UW Electrical Engineering Dept., to conduct research that would enable the software to transmit digital images over wireless networks. With this added functionality, users could view images on wireless hand-held devices such as Palm Pilots, cell phones, and other wireless communications products. Currently, because the rates of wireless data transmission are so much slower than wired links, graphics can't be transmitted to wireless devices. "The forward error correction technique we apply aims to maximize the expected signal-to-noise ratio of the image under a model of packet loss on the communication channel," says Eve Riskin. "The goal is that the first few passes of the image are received quickly, even in the event of extreme data loss. This will enable a useful image to be reconstructed right away and will prevent stalling."

    This project is part of LizardTech's overall plan to enter the e-commerce and consumer markets. LizardTech, a 70-person company, estimates that 20 new jobs will be created as a result of the project.

    Related WTC links:

  • LizardTech is a WTC client

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