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WTC awards spring 2003 Research & Technology Development projects

In June 2003, WTC awarded R&D; funding to five company-university research teams through its Research & Technology Development (RTD) program. This round of projects is supporting advances in environmental wind forecasting, processing manure as a fuel source, improving power toothbrushes, developing light weight wood-plastic lumber, and devising a novel fruit processing technique. A summary of these research collaborations is featured below.

3TIER Environmental Forecast Group, Seattle
Researcher: Dr. Tilmann Gneiting, UW Dept. of Statistics
3TIER Environmental Forecast Group is a technology company that uses advanced weather and environmental forecasting techniques and computer-based modeling strategies for forecasting renewable energies. The company is researching more accurate methods of short-term forecasting wind energy, the world's fastest growing energy generation source. In conjunction with Dr. Gneiting, 3TIER is developing an algorithm for short-term wind forecasting using multivariate time series and geostatistical space-time techniques.

Andgar Corp., Ferndale
Researcher: Dr. Shulin Chen, WSU Dept. of Biological Systems Engineering
Livestock producers are under increasing pressure, including legal action, to manage manure and process water in a way that controls odors and protects environmental quality. Livestock and livestock products are a $1.5 billion industry in Washington. Anaerobic digesters, also known as biogas recovery systems, are one possible solution to better management of manure and process water.

Anaerobic digesters use bacteria to breakdown the manure in a chamber while capturing methane, one of the by-products that can be used to generate heat or electricity. Andgar Corporation, based in Ferndale, has expertise in fabrication of components and construction of digesters. Andgar is collaborating with Dr. Shulin Chen to refine development of an enzymatic pretreatment to enable smaller more efficient reaction chambers that put anaerobic digestion within financial reach of more livestock producers.

Second Act Partners, Inc., Sammamish
Researcher: Dr. Pierre Mourad, UW Applied Physics Laboratory
Power toothbrushes have proven to offer clear clinical advantages over manual brushing. Some models have bristles that move at a sonic speed -- i.e., a frequency that can be heard. Dr. Mourad and his investigators are working to develop a power brush using a technology that they believe will improve the ability to clean the teeth and gums. Their research will test a prototype using various combinations of bristle motions. Second Act Partners, a startup company, will draw upon their considerable experience to define the technical requirements of the product for market success.

Shoreline Industries LLC, Sedro Woolley
Researcher: Dr. Karl Englund, WSU Wood Materials and Engineering Lab
Wood plastic composites (WPCs) continue to be an attractive alternative to chemically treated wood and plastic lumber due to their dimensional stability and resistance to bio-deterioration. However, current WPCs are heavy, which has prompted the development of hollow foamed composites to reduce the weight. Dr. Englund and his colleagues at WSU's Wood Materials and Engineering Lab (WMEL) have worked to develop such structural and foamed WPC products. Shoreline Industries, a manufacturer of vinyl-based composite lumber, is using WMEL's resources to develop and test new composites and extrusion methods for PVC/wood flour foamed composites specifically for the residential decking industry.

Washington Farms, Inc., Tacoma
Researcher: Dr. Barry Swanson, WSU Dept. of Food Science and Human Nutrition
Washington Farms produces 100% fruit pies sold in the Seattle area. The company's ability to market their products outside the state will be made possible by using ultra high pressure technology that pasteurizes fruit products to extend shelf life and maintain a desirable "fresh-like" flavor. In this project, the company will work with Drs. Barry Swanson and Dong-Hyun Kang at WSU's Dept of Food Science and Human Nutrition to develop a process of fruit processing that will inactivate harmful bacteria such as E. coli, inactivate enzymes that "brown" fruit, and maintain "fresh-like" appearance, flavor and texture.

Related WTC links:

  • RTD Grant Program
  • 3TIER is a WTC client
  • Andgar is a WTC client
  • Second Act Partners is a WTC client
  • Shoreline Industries is a WTC client
  • Washington Farms is a WTC client

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  • Calling all Washington companies with technology needs: New WTC funding program

    WTC wants to help Washington companies use the expertise of our state's research faculty and students to improve the economy -- specifically, to help companies create more jobs. The new Technology as a Tool Program was created for companies that don't quite fit WTC's existing RTD grant program criteria. WTC's RTD funding program focuses on technology companies and university research projects in which results are implemented directly in the company's products.

    The Technology as a Tool Program will award grants of up to $20,000 (no indirect costs taken out) to university faculty collaborating with a Washington company(ies) for projects involving technology. The new program broadens WTC's focus to include collaborations involving the use or implementation of technology. We also aim to increase the number of departments, colleges, and companies that participate in WTC's grant programs.

    Related WTC links:

  • RTD Grant Program

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  • WTC helps access seed capital statewide

    Washington Technology Center (WTC) announces a new program targeted to build an "angel" investor network outside the Puget Sound to provide access to critical early stage seed capital.

    Under a $250,000 award from the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration and matched by WTC, this two-year program will help investors and companies in communities like Yakima, Spokane, Tri-Cities, Bellingham, Port Angeles, Wenatchee, and Vancouver gain access to seed capital -- the next stage of company financing beyond family and friends.

    The development of new businesses and job opportunities are severely hindered without access to this level of working capital. While there are several organizations in Seattle to help budding entrepreneurs gain access to individual investors, or "angel investors," no organization exists in Washington that brings smaller communities together to meet this need.

    Two activities will be the core of this program. Modeled on the OCAST Technology Business Finance Program in Oklahoma, WTC will work with local community development officials to create and connect area investor groups, thus maximizing and enhancing a deal flow across the state. The second activity is to prepare companies for securing investment. WTC will provide business services -- such as assistance developing business plans and preparing investor presentations -- to strengthen a company's chances of success.

    Related WTC links:

  • WTC Angel Network

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  • Northwest Energy Technology Collaborative update

    The Northwest Energy Technology Collaborative (NWETC) is a joint effort of business, government, nonprofit, industry and educational institutions in the Pacific Northwest with a common goal to position the region as a recognized leader in energy technology.

    Over recent months the collaborative has been active first in conferences targeted towards energy and energy technology professionals, second in pursuing research to identify the most promising energy technology for investment and development in the Pacific Northwest, and third on shaping specific short-term actions. Here's more on each of these areas:

    Conferences: Two conferences where the Collaborative has been actively involved were:

    -- The NW Energy conference organized by the Portland Business Alliance, which took place in Portland, Ore. in April, 2003. This was attended by more than 120 representatives drawn from energy companies, investment businesses, and technology and research institutions. There were many lively discussions about opportunities in the region and substantial interest in 'what's next?'

    -- The Hydrogen Production and Northwest Transportation conference in Seattle in June 2003 was sponsored jointly by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the collaborative. This was attended by 130 people from around the region (including strong representation from the Canadian side) and from across the U.S. A very full program included consideration of 'The Hydrogen Highway' (currently being developed from Whistler to Vancouver, B.C. -- which is stimulating discussion on 'why not to Olympia?'), an initiative to bid for federal funding to support a Northwest Hydrogen Economy, progress on fuel-cell powered heavy vehicles (trucks and buses) and development of the 99 mpg SUV. Again the enthusiasm generated quickly turned to the question, 'what's next?'

    So what is next? The collaborative is in active discussions with both the Portland Business Alliance and PNNL on how best to build quickly and constructively on the interest demonstrated in these events. We're considering options for more focused workshops, discussion groups, information exchange, and future conferences.

    Research: The collaborative is a founding sponsor for Poised for Profit II, a research partnership led by Climate Solutions of Olympia, which is establishing the most attractive next steps for building a world-class Northwest energy technology industry. This work, undertaken primarily by the Athena Institute, is due for completion and release later this year. Preliminary results indicate strongest potential in the Smart Energy sector and the value of including BC and Alberta participation.

    Short-term actions: The energy company members of the collaborative board have agreed the value of using their existing infrastructures as a shared test-bed for new technology. Accordingly, the collaborative is leading a focus group that will quickly bring this concept to practical reality -- to the benefit not only of the energy companies, but also innovators, funders and energy users.

    Related WTC links:

  • NWETC.com

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  • WTC Microfabrication Laboratory acquires Oxford Instruments Sputtering System

    In response to a growing user base and specific lab users' needs, WTC's Microfabrication Laboratory has been on the search for a system capable of providing both DC- and RF-magnetron sputtering capability for up to 8" diameter wafers, with four source targets and a loadlock. A year-old Oxford Instruments Plasmalab System 400 became available from a closed optical MEMS company, and a deal was struck to acquire the system at less than 10% of its original price.

    The sputtering system will be located in the thin film bay of the Microfabrication Laboratory and will be especially useful for deposition of high-quality aluminum, iridium, titanium and indium-tin-oxide materials. System availability is targeted for January 2004.

    Related WTC links:

  • Microfabrication Laboratory

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  • Microfabrication Laboratory market research completed

    In line with the objectives set out in its 2003–2005 Business Plan, WTC's Microfabrication Laboratory completed an assessment of the market for its services. Beginning with a survey of existing lab users from both industry and academia, a profile was created to identify the common traits shared by the majority of our clients. The profile was then used as a filter to screen the 3000+ listings in the Advanced Technology in the Pacific Northwest 2002–03 database (from Leading Edge Communications). As a result, more than 150 prospective lab users were identified, forming the basis for the lab's marketing and business development targeted contacts for the coming year.

    In addition to identifying prospective lab clients, the survey also was used to assess user satisfaction. Clients gave the lab high marks for safety, training, responsiveness and overall capabilities, and emphasized the importance of keeping process systems in reliable, efficient operating condition.

    Related WTC links:

  • Microfabrication Laboratory

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