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WTC celebrates year of growth and looks forward to 2005

July 1, 2004 marked the start of Washington Technology Center's fiscal year for 2005 and the culmination of a successful year of accomplishments under the organization's five-year strategic plan.

WTC launched the comprehensive plan under the leadership of executive director and visionary Lee Cheatham. Poised for growth, WTC is ready to ramp up its presence throughout the state and expand its business lines to meet the economic development needs of technology companies in Washington. Much of 2004 was devoted to laying the groundwork for this expansion; 2005 will see the technology-driven economic development organization moving forward with its action plan.

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"Our strategy is definitely focused on growth," offers Lee Cheatham, WTC Executive Director. "We've got a solid foundation in place and expect a strong surge forward in the next couple of years as our programs gain momentum across the state," adds Cheatham.

Continuing a Legacy of Advancing Innovation
In FY2004, WTC expanded its Regional and Technical Services (RTS) division to include two additional programs that cater to the needs of technology companies: an angel investor network and a small business services department to offer expert counseling to small and medium sized companies.

WTC also significantly increased its statewide outreach as Washington's champion in educating technology companies about the federal government's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer programs (STTR). Last year WTC offered 30 educational seminars and events throughout the state, reaching more than 500 people through these programs. WTC also counseled more than 100 technology companies on the federal funding programs and the value they can provide in helping these businesses get financial assistance for research projects.

The cornerstone of RTS -- the Research and Technical Development (RTD) funding awards continues to be strong. Its value is evident in the quality of the projects being financed and the continued success of the companies that get a jump-start on their business through this program. Last year WTC supported research projects for 29 companies through the RTD awards program. The projects were conducted at University of Washington, Washington State University and Central Washington University. These initial funding awards provide a springboard for the companies to attract additional investment. The average return in investment for these awards is 11 to 1. This means that every state dollar awarded through the RTD program has been leveraged by the recipients to equal 11 times that much in additional investment.

Building a Foundation for the Future
In April 2004, WTC launched its new brand. This fresh look visually encompasses the spirit of WTC's mission, captures the technical nature of the organization, its professional and leadership capacity, and provides distinct brands for each of the organization's business lines.

WTC also added key staff to drive its new programs. At the operations level, Chris Coleman was brought in as director of finance & operations to guide the fiscal growth set forth in the strategic plan. Elaine Kong was hired to lead WTC's new Small Business Services program.

Setting the Stage for the Industries of Today and Tomorrow
WTC's Industries of Distinction program was created to develop and support new industries in Washington that show promise in contributing to the region's economic growth and global competitiveness.

The Northwest Energy Technology Collaborative (NWETC) is the flagship model under this program. NWETC has grown into a regional powerhouse with partnerships extending across the Pacific Northwest region of the U.S. and Canada. NWETC now has nine regional partners driving its efforts forward with respect to positioning the region as a global leader in sustainable, renewable and innovative energy technologies.

In addition to energy, WTC is also targeting development efforts around other key industries in Washington including nanotechnology, biotechnology/biomedicine and defense/security.

"It makes strategic sense to be proactive in assessing our state's technology future and how can we promote it," notes Al Erisman, Chairman of WTC's Board of Directors and Co-founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Business, Technology & Ethics (IBTE) "We already have a great head start with energy and nanotechnology is just taking off," he continues. "To be competitive, we need to evaluate our assets and any gaps in our infrastructure."

"Our goal is not be exclusionary," Erisman explains. "Rather, we're choosing to focus on industries that have high potential in the near future to impact the economy."

Research Facility Draws Worldwide Attention
WTC played a critical role in advancing interest in MEMS (micro-electromechanical systems) technology in Washington through its Microfabrication Laboratory. The demand for a facility of this status continues to increase and WTC's Microfab Lab has proved to be the ideal environment for innovative research, process development and prototyping for a growing number of industries.

WTC continues to ensure the value of the facility by procuring new equipment and processes that allow researchers to evolve their work. Access, affordability, scalability and expert staffing continue to be assets that attract clients to the laboratory. WTC recently added a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) and a sputter tool to the lab. WTC also hired senior engineer, Dr. Hopper Chu, a respected researcher with an impressive background in product development and research.

Word is getting out about this facility, once referred to among researchers as "Washington's best kept secret." The lab continues to be one of WTC's strongest assets. It is a shining example of how important it is for a state to invest in long-term infrastructure that will meet the needs of its current and emerging industries.

Connecting Communities Across Washington
WTC's focus for 2005 also includes increasing support for the Investing in Innovation Trust Fund, a state fund that provides financial investment in transitional or late-stage research for technologies with the commercial potential to contribute to Washington's economy. Specific industries include energy, biotechnology, and telecommunications. WTC oversees the Research and Technology Transfer Commission which is conducting a state assessment study to look at how to best leverage these funds. The study will be released in October 2005.

Under the new strategic plan, WTC is also increasing its reach and visibility in communities throughout the state, primarily in those regions where technology growth is imminent. Two areas of focus in the coming year are Tri-Cities, and Vancouver. Both these regions have strengths that make them good candidates for technology industry growth. To assist in these efforts, WTC is collaborating with regional partners to make both the companies and their support networks more aware of programs that speak to their needs. These include educational seminars on private investment opportunities and federal funding programs as well as industry networking, and infrastructure development.

"We are a statewide agency and we will continue to serve all of Washington," reinforced Cheatham. "However, we are also looking at a greater presence in regions where it makes sense for us to be accessible to technology companies who want to grow in the communities where they started."

"We want to encourage that kind of win-win situation by offering support where it's most needed," says Cheatham. "Right now that means programs, events and economic partnerships. In the near future, it may be direct personnel. You could see branch offices of WTC opening up in communities around the state."

With a solid growth strategy underway, WTC is moving forward with its mission to reinforce Washington's strengths as a technology-rich region and continue to lead the state's efforts to provide a strong support network for both new and established technology companies.

Related WTC links:

  • WTC's Strategic Plan 2003-2008

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  • Twelve Washington companies receive research funding

    From contamination detection to cancer treatment, cattle waste to computer languages, twelve Washington companies got the green light to conduct critical research as a result of funding awards from Washington Technology Center. WTC's Research & Technology Development (RTD) Grant Program awards more than $1 million annually to university researchers working with emerging technology companies on projects that show potential for commercial success.

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    Proposals are evaluated on the basis of technical merit, economic impact and commercial viability. The financing assistance is designed to help the companies advance specific R&D; efforts that will enable them to enter or advance in the commercial marketplace and ultimately generate new technology jobs in Washington. The outcome of the research in these 12 projects is estimated to generate 600 new jobs in Washington over the next five years. RTD grants are awarded twice annually, in Fall and Spring.

    The 12 RTD award recipients represent businesses across Washington extending from Seattle, North Bend and Snoqualmie to Wenatchee, Colville, Spokane and Tri-Cities. Companies teamed with researchers from two of the state's major academic institutions: six are working with researchers from Washington State University (WSU) and six are collaborating with University of Washington (UW) researchers.

    Congratulations to WTC's 2004 Spring RTD award recipients:

    Cray, Inc., Seattle, WA
    Researcher: Dr. Lawrence Snyder, UW Computer Science and Engineering Department. This project will compare UW's supercomputer language ZPL to Cray's supercomputer language Chapel with the goal of creating one parallel language that builds off the strongest assets of each program. This new collaborative new language will be tested on Cray's next generation supercomputers. Both software programs are open source and will be used to accelerate the adoption and sale of supercomputers.

    Enerdyne Solutions, North Bend, WA
    Researchers: Dr. George LaRue, Dr. Mohamed Osman, WSU Electrical Engineering Department. This project will focus on developing a Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) Radio Frequency (RF) amplifier for use in wireless communications and radar applications that has two-to-three-times higher thermal performance over existing designs. This has the potential to increase power and reliability without compromising battery life or adding to the cost, size or weight of the device.

    Galaxy Compound Semiconductor, Spokane, WA
    Researcher: Dr. Matthew McCluskey, WSU Department of Physics Research will focus on characterizing a new infrared detector material that will have a wider spectral range than conventional detectors. An indium antimonide (InSb) based material that operates in the far infrared region would be a strong competitor to mercury-cadmium-telluride (MCT) semi-conductors in this market. To achieve this, Galaxy proposes adding Bismuth (Bi) to the alloy to extend the wavelength. Prototypes of the new detector will be tested, opening up new markets for Galaxy and increasing interest in InSbBi semiconductor materials.

    Impulse Accelerated Technologies, Seattle, WA
    Researcher: Dr. Carl Ebeling, UW Department of Computer Science & Engineering. This project will focus on developing key applications and creating additional hardware and software interfaces for a new set of design toolsspecifically compilers, optimizers, and debuggers that allow software applications expressed in high-level languages to be compiled to Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGA). The commercial availability of these tools will benefit applications used in imaging, biomedical research, data communication, geophysics, data encryption, and signal processing.

    IsoRay, Richland, WA
    Researcher: Dr. Leroy Korb, UW Radiation Oncology Department. This project will document the anticipated clinical and economic benefits of the company's new brachytherapy seed isotope, the Cs131seed, for the treatment of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men and IsoRay has the only FDA approved Cesium-131 brachytherapy seed that conforms to the AAPM Task Force 43 guidelines for clinical use. The results of the research will allow the company to gain a stronger foothold in the worldwide brachytherapy seed treatment market.

    Lygan Technologies, Seattle, WA
    Researcher: Dr. Guozhong Cao, UW Department of Materials Science & Engineering Research. This project will focus on developing and evaluating carbon-based nanostructures for use in industrial gas storage systems. These systems have the near-term potential to improve the safety, usability and cost-effectiveness of storing such gases as nitrogen and methane. A longer term goal would be to apply this technology to hydrogen, a desirable power source currently limited in use due to inability to effectively store this gas.

    Magic Wheels, Inc., Seattle, WA
    Researcher: Dr. Brian Flinn, UW Material Science & Engineering Department. This Phase II RTD project will continue testing the endurance, reliability and environmental resistance of Magic Wheels Inc.'s new two-speed manual wheelchair wheels. This two-speed drive contains composite wheels and provides multiple benefits to the manual wheelchair user including easier navigation on uneven terrain and possible reduction of arm pain.

    MicroConnex, Snoqualmie, WA
    Researcher: Dr. Scott Dunham, UW Dept. of Electrical Engineering.
    The research team will test the feasibility of a new process for manufacturing large arrays of high performance thin film transistors on flexible substrates. This new process has the potential to advance the production of thin, flexible semiconductor devices for use in high performance, high frequency applications such as radar, telecommunications and signal processing.

    Multiform Harvest, Inc, Seattle, WA
    Researcher: Dr. Joseph Harrison, Department of Animal Sciences, WSU Puyallup. The effectiveness of a fluidized-bed crystallizer to remove phosphorus from dairy waste to prevent environmental degradation of surface water will be trialed at a dairy farm in Snohomish, WA. Dairy production is one of the top-ranked agricultural industries in Washington. An estimated one-third of all dairy farms in Washington use flush/irrigation systems to create liquid fertilizer from the cattle waste. EPA regulations are calling for a reduction in build up of phosphorus in soil. Solutions currently available are costly and cumbersome for dairy farmers to implement.

    Paine Electronics, Seattle and Wenatchee, WA
    Researcher: Dr. David Bahr, WSU School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering. Research efforts will produce two prototype strain sensors for Paine's pressure gauges that will increase the products' sensitivity while maintaining the robust mechanical reliability of the devices. Paine's pressure transducers and pressure transmitters are used in aerospace, defense, oil and gas, marine and other industries.

    Vaagen Brothers Lumber, Inc., Colville, WA
    Researcher: Dr. Vikram Yadama and Dr. Karl Englund, WSU Wood Materials & Engineering Lab. The project will focus on the analysis and characterization of sawmill residue as a potential fiber source for the manufacturing of wood plastic composites, the potential of which could add value to mill waste that is economically and environmentally sound.

    Vista Engineering Technologies, Kennewick, WA
    Researcher: Dr. Kelvin Lynn, WSU Center for Materials Research. Research will center around the development of a non-invasive gaseous tracers for use with Vista's patented Pipeline Characterization Using Tracers (PCUT) method for detecting, locating and quantifying contamination within pipelines and ductwork. PCUT technology is advantageous and preferred over conventional inspection techniques as it can be used on any pipe diameter or configuration, has no moving parts, requires no equipment decontamination, and inspects all the interior pipeline surfaces. The PCUT technique has already been proven with other contaminants such as petroleum products and solvents. The current work with WSU will extend the use of the technology to pipelines and ductwork with heavy metal contamination such as mercury.

    Related WTC links:

  • Research and Technology Development Grant Program

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  • Research and Technology Development Award eligibility extends to nonprofit research institutions

    Companies looking to participate in WTC's research grant program can now explore research partnerships beyond the state's academic institutions. Nonprofit research institutions in Washington are eligible to apply for and receive funding from WTC for collaborative R&D; projects if they meet the program's requirements.
    Traditionally, WTC's Research and Technology Development (RTD) funding awards have been extended to state universities. The program has been opened to include nonprofit research institutions such as the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center as well as private colleges and universities that have technology research programs, personnel and facilities.

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    WTC's RTD program was designed to help companies and researchers bring science out of the laboratory and into the marketplace. WTC's role is to encourage the evolution of a great idea from concept to credible to commerce.

    Often companies think they are limited to partnerships with the state's two most prominent institutions: University of Washington and Washington State University. While many of the proposals do originate from these universities, as well as from Central, Western and Eastern, there are a number of other institutions throughout the state that may qualify as research partners for this program. WTC hopes that the new eligibility requirements will spark more statewide participation in the RTD grant program and open doors to increased partnerships between commercial and research operations in technology development.

    Related WTC links:

  • Research and Technology Development Grant Program

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  • Focus your attention on winning NIH awards - October 7, 2004,

    Washington Technology Center is hosting a workshop on October 7, 2004 with the support of WBBA to help the state's technologies companies learn more about federal grant programs available through the National Institute of Health (NIH).

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    The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs are the world's largest seed capital fund for small technology companies. The National Institute of Health (NIH) makes more than $525 million a year available to small companies for biomedical and behavioral research.

    This all-day, in-depth program is designed to help technology companies evaluate their eligibility to win a federal award that will fund R&D; projects. SBIR grants have the advantage of lending prestige and credibility to research projects and can help entrepreneurial businesses attract strategic partners and outside capital investment.

    Don't miss this exclusive opportunity to hear first-hand from NIH grant experts on what they look for in an award winner. Attendees will also garner insight into the review process and how they can increase their company's chances of success in winning an SBIR or STTR grant.

    Who: Washington Technology Center

    What: Positioning Your Company to Win Federal Research Awards

    When: Thursday, October 7, 2004, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

    Where: Hilton Seattle

    NIH Funding Opportunities, Joanne Goodnight, SBIR/STTR Program Coordinator

    Peer Review Process, Anthony Coelho, Review Policy Officer

    Grant Writing Success, Anthony Coelho, Review Policy Officer

    Facts about Funding -- Pre & Post Award, Kathleen Shino, Supervisory Grants Management Specialist

    Real Life Stories From Local CEOs,

    Moderator: Ruth Scott, WBBA

    Dr. Frederick S. Hagen, President/CEO, Icogenex; Doug Hansmann, Ph.D., General Manager, EKOS Corporation; Alexis Traynor-Kaplan, co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer, Inologic, Inc.;

    BONUS! One-on-One Meetings with NIH Experts
    (Advance Registration Required)

    Cost: $150
    (Includes all sessions, breakfast, lunch, networking reception, and program materials)

    Related WTC links:

  • SBIR Program

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  • Teens Participate in Summer Science Program at Washington Technology Center's Microfabrication Laboratory

    Puget Sound area teens had the unique opportunity to conduct research at the Washington Technology Center's Microfabrication Laboratory in Seattle this 2004 summer.

    Microvision research engineer, Mark Helsel, volunteered his time to conduct a four-day summer science lab, a program that gives high school students the rare experience to work in one of the state's premier research facilities. Helsel collaborates with Forest Ridge High School in Bellevue to facilitate the Summer Science Lab; however the seminar is open to all Puget Sound area summer school students in grades 10 through 12 interested in engineering and science.

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    Helsel is a Senior Staff Engineer in the MEMS Process Group for Microvision, Inc. This Bothell, Wash. company has been a client of WTC's Microfab Lab for six years. Helsel chose the Microfabrication Laboratory for the seminar because the facility provides the ideal environment for the students to experience high-level research in action and to work in a first-rate research facility.

    "I've always had an interest in education and wanted to do something that would offer an entrée into the field of science," Helsel explains. "The Summer Science Lab is a way for the kids to see science and engineering applied to real-world applications."

    Through the Summer Science Lab, the students learn about the technologies used to make silicon computer chips and experiment with photo lithography (a micron-scale photo-patterning technology) and plasma etching. Lab participants also complete a laboratory safety class as part of the program.

    The Washington Technology Center's Microfabrication Laboratory is the largest public micro-electromechanical (MEMS) facility in the Pacific Northwest. Much of the equipment and processes contained in the laboratory would be difficult or too costly to access for most companies. State and private investment in the WTC Microfabrication Laboratory allows academic researchers and companies of all sizes to access the facility on a fee-per-use basis.

    Related WTC links:

  • WTC Microfabrication Laboratory
  • Microvision is a WTC client

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  • The Scoop on SBIR

    WTC's SBIR seminar series puts technology companies across the state in touch with experts who can help them navigate the process of getting funding for research and tap into the resources offered by federal agencies through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.

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    Thirty-six people from Western Washington came to see Dr. John Mulligan, President/CEO of Blue Heron Biotechnology, Inc and Dr. Deborah Leith, Special Counsel at Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe LLP talk at the Seattle breakfast event, "From Concept to Commercialization: How to Leverage Your Intellectual Property," on June 24. This breakfast was tailored for companies who are considering or already in the process of working with federal agencies on research projects funded through SBIR and STTR grants. The presentations centered around insight into understanding how IP is handled at the government level and what to expect when working jointly with agencies on research and development that will have commercial application including the legal and procedural aspect associated with patents and intellectual property.

    Nearly 40 companies attended WTC's SBIR programs June 16 in Vancouver, Washington. The workshop, entitled "Funding Your R&D;: What It Takes to Win a Federal SBIR Award," provided attendees with in-depth information on federal government programs that award $1.6 billion in funding each year to companies who seek financial assistance with technology research and product development.

    The morning session offered general information on the SBIR program that appealed to a variety of industries. This presentation touched on a wide variety of federal agencies that offer SBIR and STTR awards. The afternoon session focused more specifically on programs for companies looking to develop energy-related technologies and processes for advancing the commercialization of sustainable energy sources. These projects most often involve working with agencies like the Department of Energy (DOE) and Environment Protection Agency (EPA). The event drew companies from both Southwest Washington and Northern Oregon.

    WTC had a great audience for this event. The people who attended seemed interested in learning not only the mechanics of the program, but the way in which it made, or didn't make business sense for them. During the sessions, we focused on how a company should determine whether SBIR and STTR make strategic sense for them in relation to other funding opportunities.

    WTC will continue to host events around the state in communities where there is strong potential for technology growth. The seminar series reflects WTC's mission to educate entrepreneurial businesses on research funding programs available to them.

    Related WTC links:

  • SBIR Program

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  • WTC connects technology companies with investment resources

    Helping Washington technology companies understand funding options open to them as they grow and build their businesses is at the cornerstone of WTC's mission. To achieve this, WTC has a number of resources available to help entrepreneurs tap into programs that offer the best fit for their new ventures.

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    One way WTC is helping these companies get connected is through a series of investment workshops and events around the state. WTC recently held Eye of the Investor workshops in Spokane, Tri-Cities and Wenatchee drawing a collective audience of more than 100 entrepreneurs wanting to learn how to best position their companies to investors looking to fund early-stage ventures.

    During these half-day courses, seasoned investment professionals cover 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 a strong "pitch" are covered in depth. The program also offers 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.

    Another Eye of the Investor workshop is scheduled for September 23, 2004 in Bellingham.

    A partnership agreement between WTC and the Washington State Investment Board (WSIB) provides yet another avenue for investment.

    The two state agencies are working together to field promising ventures from Washington companies seeking financing through WSIB investment channels. Opportunities that present themselves with promising investment potential are sent to general partners at venture capital firms working with the WSIB for consideration.

    Related WTC links:

  • WTC Angel Network

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  • Energy companies to unveil new power products at conference in Canada

    A dozen of the best new energy technology companies in the Pacific Northwest presented their technology at the first annual Northwest Energy Technology Showcase (NETS) July 13, 2004 in Victoria, British Columbia. Key decision makers from utilities, governments and industry from Western Canada and the U.S. Pacific Northwest attended the NETS conference, an annual energy event where emerging energy technology companies from the Pacific Northwest Region debut innovative products preparing to launch in the energy market.

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    The Pacific Northwest is experiencing a significant share of the global market activity in new energy technology development. Natural resources combined with strong innovation and world-class research facilities make this region particularly competitive in this industry. New jobs in the new energy technology sector could reach 30,000 by 2010, making this industry as dominant as software or aerospace.

    This year, the following 12 companies from Washington, Oregon and Canada displayed their technologies at the NETS conference:

    AquaEnergy Group Ltd (Mercer Island, WA)

    Heuristic Engineering Inc (Vancouver, BC, Canada)

    InPowerSoft Corporation (Vancouver, WA)

    Lignol Innovations Corporation (Vancouver, BC, Canada)

    Mariah Energy Corp (Calgary, AB, Canada)

    PCS UtiliData (Spokane, WA)

    Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (Richland, WA)

    ReliOn Inc (Spokane, WA)

    Severon Corporation (Hillsboro, OR)

    Tantalus Systems Corp (Vancouver, BC, Canada)

    3TIER Environmental Forecast Group Inc. (Seattle, Washington)

    WestTech Energy Inc (Kelowna, BC, Canada)

    NETS is the first part of a two-day series of events organized by the Northwest Energy Technology Collaborative (NWETC), a joint effort of business, government, non-profit, and educational institutions committed to accelerating the emergence and growth of the energy technology industry in the Pacific Northwest region.

    On July 14, 2004, early to mid-stage energy technology companies were invited to attend the "EnVenture Northwest Boot Camp," which gave energy technology companies in the Pacific Region the opportunity to present to the venture firms interested in funding this level of industry development.

    Events such as NETS and EnVenture Northwest provide an entrepreneurial and collaborative forum for these energy technology companies to tap into a global energy market estimated to be $180 billion.

    The Northwest Energy Technology Collaborative was founded in 2002 by the Washington Technology Center as the flagship program under WTC's Emerging Industry Initiative program. Today, NWETC's partnerships extend to Puget Sound Energy, Avista Corporation, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Bonneville Power Administration, SIRTI, INTEC, and The Washington Community Trade and Economic Development Energy division.

    Related WTC links:


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  • New Website

    WTC's new brand is hitting cyberspace. Watch for WTC's new Web site to launch in August 2004.

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