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State's small communities poised for growth in technology jobs, investment

According to Washington Technology Center's 2004 Washington Index of Innovation and Technology, a new trend in our state could spell out big potential for Washington's smaller communities. Released in April 2004, the Index is an in-depth, comprehensive statistical tool for measuring the economic potential of Washington's technology industries. The report objectively analyzes 40 statewide and 12 regional measures and groups them into six core indicators: innovation, competitiveness, growth, financial capacity, workforce potential and quality of life.

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While much of the 2004 Index reinforces trends from 2003, an interesting shift emerged that could have significant impact on the state's economic landscape -- an outcropping of technology growth in regions throughout the state. Seattle is still a force to be reckoned with, leading the way in many key measures including patents generated, company birth rate, technology employment and wages per capita, and investment potential. However, statistics show that technology job growth and angel investment potential grew significantly in communities outside the largest metropolitan areas -- opening these areas up as promising commercial centers for technology companies.

It is clear that technology is a leading driver in Washington's economy. What is interesting is the emergence of new technology 'bright spots' outside what has traditionally been considered hubs for these industries.

Seattle, Spokane, Olympia, Vancouver all saw declines in technology employment for the first time in four years. But Bremerton, Tri-Cities, North Central, Tacoma, Yakima and Bellingham all saw significant increases in job growth in the major technology sectors in the last two years. Bremerton showed the highest percent in change in the state -- over 15% -- in all three of their top major technology sectors. North Central captured the number two spot, behind Seattle, for greatest angel investment potential, followed by Bellingham and Vancouver.

How did Washington fare overall? A snapshot of the six core indicators shows the following trends:

* Young companies remain the engine of growth for the state's economy. Technology continues to employ over 12% of the workforce and Washington remains the top-ranked state nationally in new company creation for the third year in a row. Patenting remains strong in diverse technology areas, up 10% from the previous year.
* Washington's export strength remains a competitive advantage, with the state ranking fourth nationally and first on a per capita basis for total value of exports.
* Technology employment decreased for the first time in four years. Much of this decline is related to the overall economic downturn that hit the country late in 2001 continuing into 2002 and 2003. Technology jobs as a percent of employment overall remained stable and Washington continues to lead the country in tech wages.
* Lingering effects of the recession resulted in decreased financial investment, with our state's decline following national trends. Capital and venture investment in Washington companies suffers from the general decline in capital markets experienced over the last two years. Washington moved from ninth to tenth for venture investment overall.
* Washington retains a highly educated workforce, critical to the tech industry, ranking 12th for states with residents who have higher education degrees. The state's four-year institutions granted 4,500 science and technology degrees and Washington ranks number one nationally in percentage of residents with high school diplomas and success on SATs.
* Quality of life that remains high, primarily due to the appeal of the region's natural resources and cultural environment. Traffic congestion and high home prices in Puget Sound metropolitan areas continue to pose threats to the state's quality of life indicator. Even with a slight increase from last year, crime rates remain low and relatively stable.

Related WTC links:

  • 2004 Washington Index of Innovation and Technology

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  • New look is visual symbol of WTC's mission

    Ideas. Connections. Jobs. Three simple but powerful words that symbolize the path that Washington Technology Center (WTC) is undertaking on behalf of the state's technology industries. WTC is a statewide organization that leads public and private efforts that focus state, federal and private resources to enhance Washington's economy. WTC works to spark ideas, form connections between people and resources, and foster job growth to position Washington as a national technology leader.

    To better speak to this mission, WTC recently took on the task of developing a new brand that would more closely align with its goals as an organization.

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    Although WTC's previous logo was somewhat representative of Washington's history, the new brand represents our future. WTC wants a look and feel that complements its mission and values, and visually represents its role as the state agency responsible for positioning innovation and technology as a vital driver of the state's economy.

    To develop this new identity, WTC conducted research analysis and evaluation to see how the organization was perceived by stakeholders. The organization went through a comprehensive branding process that included focus groups, agency support, brand development, board input, and customer impression feedback. From this exercise, the agency set about developing a new brand that would speak to its leadership role in Washington's technology economy.

    The result is a bold, contemporary mark that has become a visual icon for the organization's core values: innovation, leadership, outcome driven, respect, and determination.

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    Positioning the Northwest as a Biotechnology Leader

    by Lee Cheatham, executive director, Washington Technology Center

    Biotechnology will be a dominant force in the 21st century -- a force that not only drives the economy of the Pacific Northwest, but regional and national economies around the globe.

    But our region faces challenges. How effectively we deal with these challenges makes all the difference whether we realize the advantages of a leadership position or suffer mediocrity.

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    Challenge #1: Ensure more available capital flows into our local companies
    Let's be clear. There is a shortage of available seed capital -- those early stage investments of $50,000 to $500,000. The success of venture investment funds over the past decade has meant they simply can't afford the effort to invest in small amounts. Angel investors are a great source for this seed level investment, but they are difficult to find.

    More than three years ago, WTC recognized this lack of capital as a critical issue and acted to develop the necessary programs to address these needs.

    Our first step was to leverage federal investment opportunities. In 2001, with nine partner organizations around the state, we developed programs, tools, and training workshops that educated companies on how to access Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) funds. Each year, the ten largest federal agencies make more than $1.5 billion available to small businesses. WTC's program provides easy access to SBIR information and assistance to companies that apply.

    Our second step was to create the WTC Angel Network. This program, funded in part by the U.S. Economic Development Administration, is increasing the investment pool by encouraging investors from around the state to participate. The program consists of a network of angel groups forming around the state in areas such as the Olympic Peninsula, Wenatchee, Tri-Cities, and Bellingham. By joining this network, these angel investors will realize benefits similar to larger angel groups.

    Realizing that access to investors is critical for growth, WTC has also partnered with the Washington State Investment Board to make a portion of their private equity portfolio available to companies within the state. This program makes it significantly easier for our local companies to gain an initial review of their business plan by one of WSIB's 87 general partners.

    WTC supports the efforts of the Washington State Legislature, which last year created the Investing in Innovation fund. This legislation creates the mechanism for investment in proof-of-concept and early stage product development that can be especially helpful to the biotech industry.

    In addition, the Seattle/King County Economic Development Council has launched a project to determine how a biotech seed fund might be created within the state. The Explore Life initiative is, in part, dedicated to developing private funding for early stage proof-of-concept projects. These and the other efforts to increase the available capital must be encouraged. Effectively addressing challenge one means increasing the number of financing options for our companies.

    Challenge #2: Expand and renew our infrastructure
    It is safe to say that the biotech industry is driven by the skill and knowledge of its people. In the early stages of the industry's evolution, those people are researchers and entrepreneurs. As the industry matures, the manufacturing experts join in.

    But these people need a place to work and develop their ideas. A place that is different from the manufacturing, software or financial services industries. For biotech this place includes wet laboratories, clean rooms, and ultra-high speed computing and networks.

    WTC operates a microfabrication user facility in the John M. Fluke Sr. Hall, WTC's headquarters. The MicroFabrication Laboratory represents about $20M in facility and equipment investment. It provides critical equipment and processing capability in a clean room environment for a company's product engineers and university researchers alike.

    More than 25 companies are using this facility in their new product development. Significant university research laboratories are also located in Fluke Hall. As a result, Fluke Hall is a place where science and industry really do rub shoulders.

    Further development of appropriate facilities around the state is critical for the growth of this industry. Research space for University of Washington, Washington State University and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory must be increased. Facilities that allow entrepreneurs and our existing companies to co-locate their commercial operations with these research activities must be developed next.

    Challenge #3: Position our region among other regions around the world
    Make no mistake. This is a competition. We're competing for talented people, for money, for market access. We're competing globally -- against the best from around the world.

    Unlike biotech initiatives of a few years ago, regions today are more focused and more selective. They are examining their strengths and defining their niche in the biotech industry accordingly. We have world-class public and private research institutions in our region. We are home to the world's leading non-profit foundation and program for global health. Leading medical device and pharmaceutical companies are here. Our challenge, however, is to describe our competitive edge when we consider these institutions, and others, together.

    Several efforts are underway to do just that. Through the support of Senator Cantwell, WTC is leading an effort to develop such a vision and strategy for micro- and nano-scale science and technology. With our partners, PNNL, Avogadro Partners, and the National NanoBusiness Alliance, we are working to ensure that this long term vision emerges. Its implementation will establish our region as a leader by applying "small science" to the discovery, production and marketing of diagnostic and therapeutic devices and processes.

    The Bio21 effort launched by Governor Locke last year is an important component in meeting this challenge because it provides the backdrop required to position and brand our region. It is our first concerted attempt to develop a cohesive direction -- 21st Century Global Health -- based on our region's strengths. As Bio21 is refined, I believe it will prove to be the backbone from which many "implementation" initiatives can draw their context. Existing programs, like the Investing in Innovation Fund for proof-of-concept projects and WTC's nanotechnology initiative, are examples of programs that will implement the Bio21 principles.

    Challenge #4: Engage everyone
    Finally, I believe our most difficult challenge is how to position biotech as an industry that has broad impact. Most people believe it's just for Ph.D. scientists and it won't really affect their lives. No doubt the biotech industry draws its ideas from the depths of research in biology, chemistry, physics, computing and engineering. But just like other industries, its greatest impact will only be realized when local companies and their suppliers are making products and selling them.

    At one point the aerospace industry probably faced this same issue. Aircraft design, specialty materials, and complex electronics are all part of that industry. Over the decades, however, the industry's suppliers made metal working and electrical subsystem manufacturing understandable and hired thousands of people to fill those needs.

    How to meet this challenge is yet to be discovered. But it is the transition our biotech industry must make if we expect a similar impact to our region's economy.

    By addressing these challenges, and others that may arise, Washington Technology Center is prepared to contribute to solidifying our region's position as a global biotechnology leader.

    Related WTC links:

  • SBIR Program
  • WTC Angel Network
  • Microfabrication Laboratory
  • Nanotechnology

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  • Washington Technology Center, State Investment Board team up to drive statewide investment of early-stage technology ventures

    Washington Technology Center (WTC) is partnering with the Washington State Investment Board (WSIB) to broaden investment in Washington-based companies. The two state agencies have teamed with the goal of identifying technology companies that present investment opportunities for WSIB and, by receiving support, have the potential to grow into viable commercial ventures and contribute to the state's economic growth.

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    "The Memorandum of Understanding between the Washington Technology Center and the Washington State Investment Board has created a relationship that is already benefiting both entities," offers Janet Kruzel, Investment Officer for Private Equity for the Washington State Investment Board.

    "WTC staff has included WSIB staff in meetings in several cities across the state and provided introduction to a number of the key Washington angel and economic development groups," Kruzel explained. "We are impressed with WTC's willingness and ability to reach out to all interested parties, and with the skills and motivation of the WTC staff in how they lead and contribute to ongoing projects," she noted.

    This collaboration came about via WSIB's Economically Targeted Investment (ETI) policy, an initiative designed to facilitate the exchange of information between the agency's General Partners and organizations, like WTC, that have established working relationships and programs in place that assist early-stage companies looking for investment and whose business efforts make them a viable candidate for funding. The WSIB currently invests $55.8 billion of assets for 33 separate funds.

    In turn, WTC will partner with regional technology-focused organizations like Sirti to funnel investment opportunities to WSIB general partners, connect potential investors with emerging Washington-based businesses looking for capital, and strive to keep these investments within local communities. The overall goal is to create a statewide network that improves communication and access to investment opportunities and funding for Washington companies.

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    WTC Angel Network expands its reach

    The WTC Angel Network, launched in June 2003, has been well received. New angel groups are beginning to form around the state, many in areas where formal investments group have not been active in the past.

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    One group, the Olympic Region Angels (ORA), has already become highly visible in Clallam and Jefferson counties. At a recent meeting, 18 angel investors turned out to learn more about the program. ORA is now looking to advance to the fund development stage, with review of new investment opportunities to begin in June 2004.

    Additional angel groups are getting underway in Bellingham and North Central Washington. These groups are currently recruiting local investors in these regions to join their investment group.

    The addition of early-stage equity investments to WTC's Regional and Technical Services line is a critical move in the organization's goal to open up new funding channels for Washington technology companies.

    The WTC Angel Network is focusing on regions of the state that are currently under-served with respect to formal investment activities, but have the potential to develop investment communities. WTC's program offers individuals in these counties an easy and effective means to get angel groups started, and once established, connects these groups together through its statewide Angel Network to stimulate more widespread investment opportunities.

    Interested individuals who meet the criteria for becoming an angel investor* are encouraged to contact Washington Technology Center.

    * An individual with net worth exceeding $1 million or income exceeding $200,000 in each of the two most recent years or joint income with spouse exceeding $300,000 for those years and a reasonable expectation of the same income level in the current year.

    Related WTC links:

  • WTC Angel Network

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  • 'Technology as a Tool' grant program provides funds for companies looking to develop business tools and improve processes

    WTC's "Technology as a Tool" program awards up to $20,000 towards funding research necessary to help Washington-based technology companies increase their profitability. A complement to the organization's research grant program, Technology as a Tool helps fund university research studies for work that augments products and services the company already has in place or is in the process of developing. Grant money can be used for operational improvements at this level.

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    While WTC's research grant program is aimed at funding research that directly results in new product development, Technology as a Tool focuses on research partnerships with the potential to optimize a technique or process and that, while not necessary resulting in the creation of a new product, adds direct value to a product or process necessary to improve the company's performance in the market place. Examples of this type of research include market analysis and optimization studies.

    WTC saw the value of offering a grant program that would allow Washington companies to benefit from academic research beyond direct product development. The Technology as a Tool program opens doors for companies to fund research partnerships for optimization or process improvements which in turn may be critical to their long-term commercial success.

    Related WTC links:

  • RTD Grant Program

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  • YK Products case study

    YK Products thought it had a product that could revolutionize road repairs throughout the United States. A research grant through Washington Technology Center proved it to be true and paved the way for this Everett, Washington-based small company to create a new standard in cold asphalt application.

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    Company Profile
    Building off a patented technology, YK Products has secured exclusive rights to manufacture and distribute its proprietary cold-mixed asphalt concrete product in North and South America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and China, currently sold in the North America under the name U.S. Cold Patch®.

    U.S. Cold Patch® is a fast, permanent, easy-to-use repair material for asphalt and concrete surfaces. What sets Cold Patch® apart from the competition is that is uses recycled asphalt concrete as its main ingredient combined with small amounts of binding material, is an easy-to-apply permanent solution for road repair, and has very low levels of emissions.

    Customer Base
    U.S. Cold Patch's® target market includes state and federal transportation agencies, airports, military organizations, municipal and county public works departments, and private companies such as parking lot maintenance firms.

    Business Situation
    YK Products had been laying the foundation for a successful venture. The company had inroads into its target markets, and production facilities up and running in Puyallup, Washington and Orange, California. YK Products had conducted preliminary testing on their material, but the company was looking for a more comprehensive, objective verification process for their materials to build a stronger case for their product's performance claims and accelerate their growth into these markets.

    A meeting with the City of Seattle's Solid Waste Division pushed YK Products into action and led them to seek grant money from WTC for their research efforts. The level of volatiles in current cold mix asphalt was causing concern from an environmental and waste management perspective. The City of Seattle approached YK products with an interest in U.S. Cold Patch® and King County was willing to contribute funding for materials testing to evaluate its effectiveness and compliance with environmental regulations.

    Research Project
    YK Products and Washington State University were awarded a research grant through WTC's RTD program to gather independent performance data on its product compared to other products currently in use. Environmental and engineering standards assessments were performed by Washington State University's Center for Asphalt Technology, a partnership program between Washington State Department of Transportation, the Washington Asphalt Paving Association, and Washington State University.

    Professors Tom Papagiannakis and Frank Loge with WSU's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering headed up the research project, which was conducted using Superpave® testing methods, the highest caliber processes for testing this type of material and only available in a few select facilities in the country. Testing of this level had never been done on a cold asphalt product; it was generally reserved for hot asphalt treatments, which were believed to be the only methods suitable for permanent paving repairs, and therefore the only type to held up to this level of scrutiny.

    Dr. Papagiannakis says he was attracted to the project for two reasons. First, that the company was a small emerging venture. And second, the green nature of the product. "Here appeared to be a paving product that was made from recycled material, didn't require solvents, and was benign to the environment," Papagiannakis noted.

    The project, completed in February 2004, confirmed that U.S. Cold Patch® outperformed other cold asphalt products on the market overall from both engineering and environmental standards, proving to be a robust product with negligible emissions.

    Applications & Benefits
    For YK Products, the research proved to be a critical factor, especially with reference to establishing performance benchmarks in a comparative/side-by-side test of US Cold Patch® with its competition.

    "The credibility factor from this type of research has had tremendous impact on our company's growth potential," notes John Ackerman, General Manager for YK Products. "This wasn't just a small company-funded test. This is legitimate, third-party evaluation at a facility with excellent stature and reputation in this industry."

    "The independent test clearly demonstrated the superiority of YK's products and identified it as the strongest and best performing cold asphalt on the market as well as being environmentally friendly," explained Ackerman.

    The Future
    Based on the research results, YK Products is releasing a report to current and potential customers outlining the findings from the study, which the company anticipates will be received favorably and result in increased sales.

    The crux of the research has the potential to significantly impact the bulk market, which is the direction that YK Products plans to take. For a bulk market to be viable, a dedicated system needs to be in place to provide YK Products with greater access to the recycled asphalt, which makes up 75% of its product base, in multiple locations. The findings in the research report led to increased inroads into this partnership. YK Products is working with municipalities and the Washington State Department of Transportation to make this happen.

    Results from the grant research also featured prominently in the company's strategic planning efforts, the basis of which is being used to attract key personnel, develop a Quality Control Program to accompany the company's plans to double its current production capacity by adding two new production facilities in Illinois and New York, and expand its distribution throughout North America.

    Related WTC links:

  • YK Products is a WTC client
  • RTD Grant Program

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  • Söliv case study

    Söliv is a small Seattle skin care company with a breakthrough product line founded on marine biotechnology. Armed with a patented proprietary material and R&D; to back it up, the company was ready to hit the ground running. But an economic downturn threatened to cripple the company's progress. The slowdown in the financial markets motivated the company to turn its attention inward to fine-tune its market strategy and hold tight until investment opportunities looked more promising. A consulting contract with Washington Technology Center's Small Business Services proved to be a smart move for Söliv and provided the company with an action plan for moving forward.

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    Company Profile
    Söliv develops, processes and markets bio-active, anti-aging skin and body care products. It is the first company in the Northwest to develop marine-based biotechnology products. In 2001 the company completed its initial research phase through WTC's Research Grant Program in partnership with the University of Washington's Department of Botany to develop an advanced aquaculture system for cultivating a specific seaweed strain used in Söliv's proprietary skin and body care products. The goal was to develop a technologically-feasible method for assuring that large-scale supplies of this raw material would be available for product development and sales.

    The Research Project
    The WTC grant, in combination with support from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), allowed Söliv to develop a successful platform for refining its aquaculture methods along with natural selection and propagation of new strains, each with different properties for skin care products. The result was a raw material base to support an $80M–$100M retail business with 25 products.

    Business Situation
    With its product line well established, Söliv turned its attention towards financing, marketing, sales and manufacturing. The economic slow down experienced over the past three years had made access to capital difficult, if not seemingly impossible, for small start-up businesses. Without a strong climate for going after investors, Söliv decided to focus on its internal operations and use the downtime from seeking funding to evaluate its positioning strategy for entering the market.

    "This time proved valuable for us," notes Diane Boratyn, president and CEO of Söliv. "We got extremely efficient at doing what we do. We were ready to enter the market yet needed a game plan for transitioning the findings and test market maneuvers into a marketing and investment strategy. We had the elements in place, but saw the benefits of having a seasoned professional help shape our strategy for getting the'edge' on securing funding," Boratyn adds.

    Enter Washington Technology Center's Small Business Services expert, Elaine Kong. In late 2003, WTC launched a new branch of its regional and technical services line specifically targeted to assist small- and medium-sized technology companies with financing and strategic planning.

    Having worked with WTC through its R&D; grant program, Söliv was familiar with WTC's services and was introduced to Elaine as a resource to assist them with their business strategy.

    Elaine has a great deal of experience nationally and internationally in developing business and investment strategies for companies in the growth stages. Her background includes venture capital, startup consulting, and strategic business planning.

    For Söliv, the team focused on strategic planning, capitalization planning, due diligence package preparation, stock option research and compensation planning, investor advisory and sales strategies implementation.

    "One of our primary objectives for Söliv was to develop a solid marketing and sales strategy," explained Elaine Kong, manager of small business services for the Washington Technology Center. "For a company in their stage of growth, this is key to attracting investors," she noted. "They are acutely interested in knowing how the company is preparing to move the product to market and generate revenue."

    The Future
    Since completing their consulting contract with WTC, Söliv has a solid sales and marketing plan in place, complete with short and long term goals for broadening their customer base, penetrating their target markets and increasing sales of their product. To date, this includes adding four new full time staff and five independent sales representatives. The projected growth for a sales force throughout Washington is expected to increase three-fold by May 2004. The company plans to use recent capital raised to roll-out its sales plan, expand its production facility and increase manufacturing operations.

    "To put it simply, WTC's Small Business Services consulting services helped us overcome the 'financial paralysis' stage that a company may face when funding is tight," Boratyn stated. "Elaine helped position the company to capture its strengths and accomplishments in financial terms and develop the tools needed to attract the most sophisticated groups of investors," she adds. "Now we're prepared to deliver a high-quality, attractive presentation to investors supported by a solid growth plan."

    Related WTC links:

  • Söliv is a WTC client
  • Business Consulting

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  • Microfabrication Laboratory showcases academic-industry collaboration

    WTC's Microfabrication Laboratory Open House attracted researchers from around the Pacific Northwest to view the latest prototypes and commercial products developed at this premier R&D; facility in Seattle. Engineers, chief technology officers, academic researchers, and industry executives flocked to Washington Technology Center's state-of-the-art facility to get an inside glimpse of the organization's Microfabrication Laboratory, the largest micro-technology R&D; facility in the Pacific Northwest.

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    More than 125 attendees from Washington and Oregon turned out to tour the lab February 26, 2004. The facility provides specialized equipment, trained personnel and other services for developing micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS) -- miniaturized mechanical devices on silicon chips or wafers -- a trend that is revolutionizing the technology industry.

    Washington is home to a growing number of micro-technology companies. WTC is a critical partner in helping both new and established companies fabricate and test proprietary technology and prototypes in the earliest stages of development.

    "Having access to fully-functioning fabrication resources through WTC is enormously valuable to us," says Matt Nichols, Director of Communications for Microvision, a Bothell-based company that develops high-resolution displays and imaging systems based on proprietary silicon micro-mirror technology. "The Microfab Lab offers a controlled environment, which is critical, and we aren't burdened with building these facilities ourselves or dividing our time among labs that only provide a portion of the functionality," explains Nichols. "As a result, we are able to move to market faster with a more stable, reliable product."

    Microvision exhibited its Nomad Expert Technician System at the open house, a wireless wearable augmented vision display that allows technicians to view detailed service information at their point of task, head-up and hands-free.

    CombiMatrix, Intelligent Ion, Neah Power Systems, and TraceDetect also previewed products and prototypes developed at the Microfab Lab. Industry and academic researchers have shared access to the lab, which represent nearly $20 million in facilities and equipment. Clients can customize use of the facilities to best fit their needs, ranging from part time and contract use to full time R&D.;

    "We're pleased to offer a facility of this caliber to our industry and academic clients," says Lee Cheatham, Executive Director for Washington Technology Center. "WTC will continue to deliver resources and services that foster academic-industry partnership and contribute to the growth and economic strength of technology commerce in our state."

    Related WTC links:

  • WTC Microfabrication Laboratory
  • Microvision is a WTC client
  • CombiMatrix is a WTC client
  • Intelligent Ion is a WTC client
  • Neah Power Systems is a WTC client
  • TraceDetect is a WTC client

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  • News from the Northwest Energy Technology Collaborative (NWETC)

    The Northwest Energy Technology Collaborative (NWETC) took the opportunity to roll out its new regional partnership at the Power-Gen renewable conference in Las Vegas in February 2004.

    NWETC brings together partners and resources throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, British Columbia, Alberta, Montana and Yukon Territory to position the Northwest as a region that offers a full range of energy-related technology solutions.

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    Northwest Energy Technology Collaborative launches new regional brandBy branding the Northwest as a hub for emerging power technology and rolling out its latest initiatives to encourage innovation in the area of energy solutions, NWETC was able, through interaction with U.S. and International delegates at the conference, to attract new contacts, increase visibility, and strengthen relationships within the global energy market.

    NWETC is a joint effort of business, government, non-profit and educational institutions committed to accelerate the emergence and growth of the energy technology industry in the Pacific Northwest region of North America. NWETC focus its efforts in three core areas: research and development, technologies applied to energy, and demonstration projects that move intellectual property from the laboratory to commercialization. For more information, visit the NWETC website at

    Washington Rural Electric Cooperatives joins regional energy collaborativeThe Washington Rural Electric Cooperatives (WREC) has joined the affiliate network for the Northwest Energy Technology Collaborative. Under the affiliation, WREC will work with NWETC over the next year to get rural utilities more actively involved in activities to promote new innovations and technologies in energy through NWETC's programs.

    New Hydrogen Learning Center open at Central Washington UniversityCentral Washington University opened its Hydrogen Learning Center on March 15, 2004 featuring a 1kw fuel cell developed by Avista Corporation. The fuel cell project was a grant administered by BPA and acquired by the State Energy Office to create the Hydrogen Learning Center and train 200 teachers statewide in hydrogen-focused curricula. NWETC supported this effort by providing in-kind marketing support for the center.

    Regional conference on new energy technologies set for July 13, 2004The Northwest Energy Technology Showcase (NETS) is set for July 13, 2004 in Victoria, B.C. NETS is a regional conference that brings together 10 to 15 of the best new energy innovation companies in the region to present their technology to lead purchasers, decision makers and engineers from utilities across the Northwest. Companies interested in participating in the NETS event are required to submit an application form and executive summary. A screening committee will select finalist from the applicants pool who are then eligible to present at NETS. For more information, please visit

    NWETC participates in energy conference in B.C.
    The Northwest Energy Technology Collaborative was an exhibitor at the 16th annual Canadian Institute of Energy (B.C.) conference in Vancouver, BC on February 26, 2004. The event, entitled "Building the Business Case for Environmental Action in B.C.: Energy Planning, Climate Change, & Environmental Stewardship," was co-hosted by the Environment Managers Association of B.C. Topics included a range of leading energy technologies and planning approaches, including hybrid vehicles, solar technologies, geo-exchange, emissions trading, and performance-based energy conservation.

    Related WTC links:


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  • Steering Committee to study nanotech growth in Washington

    Nanotechnology, the "science of the small," may be the next big thing for Washington state, and state lawmakers have set in motion the means to study the long-term economic impact of this technology in the state.

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    Washington Technology Center (WTC) is leading the strategy around the Nanotechnology Initiative. "Washington technology companies are already seeing the impact nanoscience has on market potential," says Lee Cheatham, executive director of the Washington Technology Center. "The goal of the nanotechnology initiative is to determine how to best leverage this technology to our state's competitive advantage. The results of which are a stronger economy, increased capital investment in Washington companies, and more jobs," Cheatham adds.

    Cheatham is one of the members of a Steering Committee, comprised of senior-level professionals from industry, academia and business tasked with moving the Washington Nanotechnology Initiative's goals forward.

    Washington Nanotechnology Initiative goals
    * Realistic strategies for getting the technology into the market;
    * Path to commerce through existing companies -- key is how it can improve processes;
    * Taking the technology out of the lab and into the marketplace.

    The Steering Committee met March 11, 2004 to begin work on the strategic plan which will outline objectives for examining the scope and magnitude of the nanotechnology market in Washington and recommend a targeted action plan for capitalizing on this opportunity. Results of the study will be announced in June.

    Nanotechnology has the potential to affect almost every aspect of our lives at the molecular and atomic scale -- as minute as one-billionth of a meter. The benefits of applying nanotechnology are numerous -- better healthcare; faster, smaller computers; more efficient energy production and storage; fuel-efficient automobiles and aircraft; more durable materials for clothing, housing, and consumer goods. The global market for nanotechnology is predicted to reach $1 trillion in the next ten years.

    U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), a long-time proponent of economic growth through the commercialization of scientific research, led the effort to create the Washington Nanotechnology Initiative, which advocates positioning Washington at the forefront of nanotech commerce. "Washington has all the resources needed -- intellectual property, world-class research institutions and strong entrepreneurial spirit -- to become a national leader in nanotechnology," says Sen. Cantwell.

    Steering Committee
    Lee Cheatham, Executive Director, Washington Technology Center
    Amit Kumar, President & CEO, Combimatrix
    Jim Kajiya, Director, Microsoft Research
    Patrick Ennis, Managing Director, Arch Venture Capital
    Richard McCullough, Dean,Mellon College of Science, Carnegie Mellon University
    Chris Anzalone, Partner, Benet Group
    J. William Rogers, Associate Director, Pacific Northwest National Laboratories
    Jim Severson, Vice-Provost, University of Washington Tech Transfer

    Related WTC links:

  • Washington Nanontechnology Initiative

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  • Inland Northwest entrepreneurs receive tips on attracting investors at Spokane area seminar

    Washington Technology Center and local partner INTEC co-hosted an "Eye of the Investor" workshop in Spokane on March 26, 2004 for inland northwest entrepreneurs wanting to learn how to best position their companies to investors looking to fund early-stage ventures.

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    This workshop, part of a statewide series organized by the WTC and presented by the Alliance of Angels, drew a group of nearly 40 company founders and representatives and provided personal insight from investors on a variety of topics, including:

    * Where to find angel investors
    * How to attract early-stage investors to your company
    * Factors considered by investors when making an investment decision
    * Strategies for handling investor relations.

    During the half-day course, seasoned investment professionals covered key points critical to making an entrepreneurial venture attractive from a funding perspective. Real world examples, best and worst case scenarios and tips for making the "pitch" were covered in depth.

    Mark your calendar for upcoming Eye of the Investor workshops:

    June 9, 2004
    Tri-Cities, WA
    Co-host: TRIDEC

    June 18, 2004
    Wenatchee, WA
    Co-host: SBDC

    Related WTC links:

  • WTC Angel Network

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  • Seminar aims to help biotech companies access federal grants

    Washington Technology Center (WTC) is hosting a breakfast seminar on April 15 from 7:30 to 9 a.m. at the Faculty Center on the University of Washington campus in Seattle. Targeted to biotech and biomedical companies, the seminar, entitled "What Biomedical or Biotech Companies Want to Know about DoD-funded Medical Research," aims to help these types of companies understand the value of and process for going after federal dollars to support R&D; effort critical to their company's evolution and to better understand how federal agencies like the Department of Defense (DoD) and National Health Institute (NIH) play into this funding program.

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    At the seminar, representatives from Washington companies in the biotech and biomedical fields will have the ability to talk candidly with a company founder who has been through the federal funding process with both NIH and DoD and can talk to this issue in-depth and the value that comes from going after SBIR and STTR funds.

    Dr. Shawn Iadonato, founder, chief scientific officer, and director of Seattle-based Illumigen Biosciences Inc., will be the featured speaker at the breakfast. Illumigen Biosciences is a Seattle-based life sciences company that uses proprietary human genetic technologies to identify and exploit beneficial, health-promoting mutations. Illumigen has been the recipient of numerous grants from the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense and Dr. Iadonato has served as an ad hoc reviewer of grant applications for NIH and DoD institutes and centers around the country.

    The cost to attend the breakfast is $35.

    Related WTC links:

  • SBIR Program

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