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WTC awards 10 research and technology projects

For Immediate Release: February 20, 2001

Seattle - In December 2000, WTC awarded over $1.2 million in R&D; funding to 10 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 scientific and engineering expertise of researchers at the state's universities.

Between 1995 and 2000, companies and researchers participating in WTC projects were able to attract $167.25 million in follow-on investment from private and federal sources. This is an 11-times leverage of the state's $15.54 million investment in WTC.

More than 50 percent of the current funding went to Washington State University's five projects, with four awards made to the University of Washington and one to Eastern Washington University.

This cycle's round of projects is supporting advances in areas as diverse as electric power production, wireless communications, milk pasteurization, antioxidant research, and genome sequencing. A summary of these research collaborations is featured below.

Awards in Advanced Materials & Manufacturing

InnovaTek, Inc., Richland
Researcher: Philip C. Malte, UW Dept. of Mechanical Engineering
InnovaTek is an early-stage technology-based company that creates innovative solutions for health, safety and energy applications. Working with Dr. Malte, the company is developing and testing a fuel injection component for a diesel and natural gas-based fuel processor to supply hydrogen for electrical generation - creating a power production technology that can use the nation's current fuel distribution infrastructure to provide a clean, quiet and energy-efficient electrical energy generating system.

Saint-Gobain Crystals & Detectors, Washougal
Researcher: Albert E. Segall, WSU Dept. of Mechanical & Manufacturing Engineering
Saint-Gobain is a leading supplier of sapphire substrates, a favored material used as a substrate for blue light emitting diodes (LEDs) and lasers. Their project will develop a process to optimize production of high quality sapphire wafers, reducing manufacturing time while meeting tightened quality requirements.

Awards in Computer Systems

SuperTel Technologies, Inc., Redmond
Researcher: Ming-Ting Sun, UW Dept. of Electrical Engineering
SuperTel designs and develops wireless voice and data communications products for commercial and business applications. They are teaming with UW researchers to investigate and implement Wireless Local Loop (WLL), a technology that uses fixed or mobile radio transceivers to provide telephone services. WLL is an alternative to telephone lines or cellular services, which are costly and sometimes difficult to install and maintain.

Flat Spin Media, LLC, Spokane
Researcher: Michael Hendryx, WSU-Spokane, Health Policy and Administration
Flat Spin Media, an information technology-based hardware and software development company, is developing an electronic touchscreen notebook device for data collection. The company is collaborating with Dr. Hendryx to design a mental health survey application for their device. This technology can help health care system providers survey clients rapidly, efficiently and confidentially, thus enhancing their clinical management and accountability.

Awards in Biotechnology / Biomedical Devices

Avista Utilities, Spokane
Researcher: Gustavo V. Barbosa-Canovas, WSU Dept. of Biological Systems Engineering
Dr. Barbosa-Canovas is collaborating with Avista, a natural gas and electricity utility, and Inland Northwest Dairies to develop an augmented milk pasteurization process using pulsed electric fields to obtain a product of better quality and longer shelf life. Energy requirements are expected to be significantly less than the requirements of competing processes.

GenPrime, Inc., Spokane
Researcher: Jim Fleming, EWU Dept. of Biology
GenPrime, a biotech company, has developed and is selling test kits for determining microbe concentrations in the cultured dairy and brewing industries. Funds will support generating a new rapid test for raw milk, which will alert farmers to contaminated milk within minutes - rather than after the milk has gone to the dairy processor.

La Haye Laboratories, Inc., Redmond
Researcher: Boon P. Chew, WSU Dept. of Animal Sciences
La Haye Labs is a developer, manufacturer and marketer of natural pharmaceutical, nutritional or dietary supplement products intended primarily for humans. Their latest product is astaZANTHIN™, an all-natural antioxidant that has shown promise in many areas including cardiovascular diseases, dermatology and cancer. Antioxidants are thought to prevent certain types of cell damage associated with artery disease and aging, but their usefulness has not been proved. Project funds will help support studies of the product's possible immune-enhancing activity, a step that is necessary for the product to be accepted as a nutritional or dietary supplement.

Micronics, Redmond
Researcher: Albert Folch, UW Dept. of Bioengineering
Micronics is a leading developer of microfluidics-based solutions for application in life science (genomics), in-vitro medical diagnostics and analytical chemistry markets. Their proprietary technologies enable companies to perform chemical analyses faster, less expensively and with less complexity. Dr. Folch will collaborate with Micronics to develop a unique microfluidic device that will generate a large number of different mixtures by combining a few input compounds.

Molecular Kinetics, Inc., Pullman
Researcher: A. Keith Dunker, WSU School of Molecular Biosciences
Molecular Kinetics is a biotech company that markets equipment used for experiments aimed at understanding protein structure and function. With the recent completion of the DNA sequencing of the Human Genome Project, researchers are now looking to ascertain functions for the 35,000+ proteins in the human genome - opening avenues to improve all areas of human life. This project will focus on developing software tools for prediction and identification of regions of order and disorder in proteins.

RationalDiagnostics, LLC, Seattle
Researcher: Daniel E. Sabath, UW Dept. of Laboratory Medicine
RationalDiagnostics is a startup clinical genomics company whose goal is to develop novel diagnostic tools based on the discovery of disease-specific genes. The company is currently focusing on identifying genes whose patterns of expression distinguish different types of B cell lymphomas and developing a highly sensitive lymphoma diagnostic tool. Better diagnostic tools are expected to improve the management of lymphoma patients and may yield molecular targets useful for developing new drug treatments.

Awards in Optical Systems

ALL-OPTICAL DEVICES

Washington State University
Researcher: Alexander D.Q. Li, Dept. of Chemistry
Current optical fiber technology is hampered by some network protocols that require optical fiber signals to be processed electronically. Developing all optical, fiber optic-based devices can be much more cost-effective and bandwidth (capacity) efficient. This project will explore synthesizing new organic electro-optic materials that are critical for polymer optical fiber devices in ultra-high speed telecommunications.

OPTICAL SWITCHES

University of Washington
Researcher: Daniel T. Chiu, Dept. of Chemistry
There is an urgent need for high-speed and high-density optical switches to handle the ever-increasing demand of internet and telephone traffic. The current state-of-the-art switching device has a switching speed in the range of milliseconds. This project will develop laser-induced switches, which can potentially enable speeds in the nano- to microsecond range.

University of Washington
Researcher: Alex K.-Y. Jen, Dept. of Materials Science & Engineering
This project will develop low cost, high speed, wide bandwidth, low loss, and low power consumption electro-optic polymer materials for optical switch and modulators used in computing and telecommunications applications.

Related WTC links:

  • RTD Grant Program

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