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Eight projects receive WTC research grants

Washington Technology Center recently awarded grants to eight Washington researchers teamed with companies to commercialize new technologies.

WTC's Research and Technology Development (RTD) award winners are Advanced Electroluminescent Sciences, Woodinville; Aegis Biosciences, Spokane; Arcadia Bioscience, Seattle; Cascade Quality Molding, Inc., Yakima; Insilicos, Seattle; Northwest Marine Technology, Anacortes; Tree Top, Selah; and Vaagen Brothers Lumber, Inc., Colville.

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Research expertise was provided from three of the state's major academic institutions: University of Washington, Washington State University and Gonzaga University.

Through support from WTC, these collaborative partners are working to revolutionize everything from cardiovascular disease detection to commercial wheat crops. Projects include such breakthrough discoveries as "smart" dressings that treat chronic wounds, vaccinations for fish, biodegradable plastic cutlery, tastier breakfast cereal, energy-efficient light bulbs, and durable decking materials.

WTC awards funding through its RTD grants program to university researchers teamed with entrepreneurial technology companies on projects that show commercial potential.

The process is competitive and the goal is clear: to transition our state's most promising innovations into commercial products, company growth and high-wage jobs. Over the last ten years, the Washington Technology Center has supported 285 technology commercialization projects through its RTD program. This seed funding and commercial feasibility endorsement has proved effective in helping these technologies mature into commercially-viable ventures. From this initial funding, these companies are better able to attract add-on funding from federal grants, angel investors, and industry partners. In a 2005 impact study, RTD grant winners reported receiving more than $23 million in additional investment as a result of WTC's support.

To read project summaries, click on the company name.

* Advanced Electroluminescent Sciences, Woodinville
* Aegis Biosciences, Spokane
* Arcadia Biosciences, Seattle
* Cascade Quality Molding, Inc., Yakima
* Insilicos, Seattle
* Northwest Marine Technology, Anacortes
* Tree Top, Selah
* Vaagen Brothers Lumber, Inc., Colville

Related WTC links:

  • WTC Research and Technology Development Grant Program

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  • Regional Collaboration Helps Northwest Become a Power Player in Energy Innovation

    The concept of "energy innovation" inevitably conjures up images of cutting-edge conservationism and new energy sources such as biomass, wind power, and hydrogen fuel.

    Much in the way that nanotechnology is making waves, renewable and smart energy are causing a buzz in the marketplace. But what is being done to harness this potential and transition these technologies from bright ideas into real-world applications?

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    The average timeframe for a new technology to enter the market is seven years. Most alternative energies won't experience market penetration until 2020. However, the demand for more efficient energy is reaching epic urgency.

    In 2005, the federal government initiated the Energy Policy Act, and 22 states now have renewable energy portfolio standards or mandates in place. The only way to ensure supply meets demand is to speed up the cycle and help companies more rapidly develop and introduce new technologies to market

    The Northwest is ripe for emergence as an energy "power block." It has the highest concentrations of hydroelectric, geothermal, wind, biomass and solar power in the nation. Washington, Oregon and Idaho have more than 70 percent of their electricity provided by renewable energy. The region also has unparalleled reputations in environmental consciousness and entrepreneurial culture making it a model breeding ground for scientific breakthroughs in renewable and smart energy.

    The Northwest Energy Technology Collaborative (NWETC), a regional alliance of five U.S. states and two Canadian provinces, is working to leverage this natural aptitude and position the Northwest as a world leader in energy innovation. The vision behind NWETC is that by creating a regional partnership that serves as a central hub for identifying and capitalizing on new energy opportunities, companies stand a greater chance of achieving commercial success.

    Building a Regional Brand
    A number of U.S. states are making plays for energy markets. A few, such as California, Connecticut and Texas, are investing millions in energy industry development. This rush to capture market share is stirring up state-to-state rivalry, providing even greater appeal to brand the Northwest as a diverse, energy-rich region in order to gain competitive advantage and build awareness around available energy technologies and commercial-ready products.

    NWETC has the advantage of being the only regional effort to develop and market an energy industry power block. Each state and province in the Northwest has independent energy assets. Individually, they stand to capture a small market share. Collectively, they become a dominant leader in new energy solutions. One example is the re-direction of the region's existing strengths in software and semiconductors to the smart energy market, already valued at $15 billion worldwide. Developing new backend solutions and advanced materials for grid efficiency will only increase the Northwest's already growing share in this market, currently estimated at $2 billion.

    Access to Capital
    Readily available funding is a critical element in ensuring a new business venture makes the leap from concept to commercial offering. NWETC identifies financial incentives offered by state, federal and private utilities, and connects them to entrepreneurial energy companies. These opportunities represent hundreds of millions of dollars earmarked for energy technology research and development. NWETC's website lists available private and public grants, making it easier for companies to identify and compete for these financial awards.

    Seattle has the highest private investment activity related to energy funding in the U.S., but it isn't enough to meet the needs of this fast-growing sector. NWETC is working to create new funding sources for energy.

    Energy Venture Northwest, a venture capital forum, helps energy start-ups access regional equity capital. Through this forum, investors have an opportunity to support some of the Northwest's most promising energy offerings. Entrepreneurs get the opportunity to pitch their ideas before venture firms with a reputation for financing energy-related businesses. Now entering its third year, Energy Venture Northwest has helped 15 companies polish their presentations skills and present to venture firms for funding. Many of these companies have progressed to national venture forums such as CleanTech and Clean Energy Venture.

    Northwest Energy Angels, a new program for 2006, is an initiative to build a regional network of angel investors who have interest in, and experience with, energy-related technologies and businesses. Creating an energy-focused angel investor network provides a more direct and readily-available source of seed funding for companies entering the market space, as well as identifying a talent pool of industry-savvy mentors and consultants.

    Market Penetration
    Next to funding, market entry is the biggest challenge facing energy technology companies. The Northwest Energy Technology Showcase (NETS) is an annual program that allows a select group of energy innovators to present their products and services to regional energy buyers. To date, 24 companies have participated in the NETS program with great success.

    NWETC's Regional Test Bed connects energy innovators with major utilities as means to test products in the field. One of the largest roadblocks facing a company entering the field testing stage is finding a location and utility willing to work with them in a timely manner. The Regional Test Bed aims to improve this collaboration and turn-around time.

    Industry Partnerships
    Collaboration is another key principle of NWETC's regional commercialization strategy. The Bio 49 Degrees Project (Bio49) is a perfect example. Bio49 is a cross-border initiative to reduce diesel emissions from utility trucks by switching to biodiesel fuel. This project involved multiple stakeholders from Washington and British Columbia and received grant support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. What makes Bio49 work is the collective investment of its partners. Without the ability to identify funding and field trial partners through NWETC, this project would not be a reality.

    Just as small businesses band together through cooperatives to leverage their buying and selling power, NWETC has created a regional alliance that will operate as an industry trading block. This regional alliance is a testament to the sum equaling more than the parts. Adopting a collaborative approach to branding, funding, and resource management is transforming the Northwest from a geographic area with energy technology potential to a powerful force in the economic landscape of energy innovation.

    Related external links (will open a new window):

  • Northwest Energy Angels

    Related WTC links:


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  • Wireless Security -- Are you Safe?

    Sponsored Guest Article by Dr. John Shovic, Eastern Washington University

    Prowlers no longer have to enter your home or business to steal your valuables. Many of today's thieves -- or "coyotes" as Dr. John Shovic of Eastern Washington University calls them -- can simply sit outside your home or business and steal your email, security codes and personal information without setting foot on your premises.

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    Case in point, one of Shovic's students booted up his wireless computer in a large Western airport to find that service kiosks were sending credit cards, names and PIN numbers in the CLEAR.

    He was so shocked, he immediately deleted his data, shutdown his computer and left the area. The student could literally watch a person at a kiosk and view all of his or her personal information in real time.

    Cybersecurity is no small issue: 10 to 15 new viruses are detected every day and most intrusions are from the "inside." Total spending on computer security issues continues to increase every year as companies become more dependent on the Internet and networking in general.

    So what can we do? Well, perhaps consider hiring a team of Shovic's students.

    Shovic's students are learning to think like hackers in order to find every possible solution to stop wireless intruders.

    He offers an "A" to any student who can successfully plant a virus in his system during the last week of class -- making him a nervous wreck for finals week. From fake invoices to forgery, you can start to imagine the creative approaches students have taken.

    At the end of the quarter, Shovic divides his class into two teams to wage a cyber war on one another. The battle rages late into the night, with the ultimate winner being the team that is best able to destroy the other team's firewalls, steal their data, infect them with viruses and paralyze their services as well as defending their own systems from attack. (Don't worry, he also makes students thoroughly aware of the legal penalties involved in waging such attacks in the real world.)

    To hear more stories involving "cyber wars" and "war drives" as well as expert solutions, attend Dr. Shovic's luncheon presentation on April 7 at the Bellevue Doubletree Hotel. There will also be a substantial Q&A; session for attendees to garner advice on specific issues. The event is also an opportunity for individuals to meet Eastern Washington University's new president, Rodolfo Arévalo.

    About Dr. John Shovic
    Dr. Shovic is a professor of cybersecurity at Eastern Washington University and a successful entrepreneur. He is cofounder of a computer security consulting company (MiloCreek), a software network security company (TriGeo Network Security), a data solutions company (AHA), a water treatment technology company (Blue Water Technologies) and a bank (bankCDA).

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    Selling to the Government -- A Compliance Checklist

    Sponsored Guest Article by William A. Shook, Partner, Preston Gates Ellis & Rouvelas Meeds LLP

    The U.S. Government can be a great customer for Washington businesses and nonprofits. However, as with any public sector customer, unique requirements and contract terms apply. Careful and thoughtful consideration of, and compliance with, these unique terms will help ensure a mutuality beneficial contractual relationship.

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    Although not a comprehensive list, Washington Technology Center customers and partners that currently are selling or want to sell goods and services to the Government should examine their business practices with regards to the following areas:

    Intellectual Property -- Entities must identify prior to contracting with the government the intellectual property that was developed with non-government funds and must appropriately "mark" restricted rights or limited rights technical data. After-the-fact identification can be extremely difficult and the burden shifts to the contractor to prove its case.

    Nondiscrimination Requirements -- Includes Equal Employment Opportunity, Affirmative Action Plans, and Accessible Products for the Disabled. Requires filing of annual reports.

    Country Preference Laws -- Includes Buy American Act and Trade Agreements Act. Requires that preference for American-made products for smaller dollar procurements and prohibits the purchase in larger dollar procurements of products manufactured in countries that do not participate in the public procurement portion of the World Trade Organization.

    Price Negotiation -- The establishment of a "fair and reasonable" price for products and services can include providing the government with evidence of catalog pricing, competitive pricing, or cost data which must always be accurate and in some instances both current and complete.

    Gifts and Gratuities -- Government employees are prohibited from accepting anything of value (in excess of $20) from entities seeking to do business with the government. Entities are prohibited from offering anything of value to a government employee in exchange for favorable treatment.

    "Prompt" Payment -- Although the government has a reputation for being a slow pay, the Prompt Payment Act requires payment within 30 days of the submission of a "proper" invoice. Failure to receive payment can result in interest being owed. Entities should follow Prompt Payment Act procedures precisely so that the government has no excuse for late payments and any late payments should be addressed immediately.

    Record-Keeping Requirements -- When selling services by the hour, entities must keep very accurate and verifiable records for the time charged by each employee. In addition, contract records should be maintained for three years after final payment on a contract.

    Security Clearances -- For contractors involved in classified work, careful attention to maintaining a facility clearance and clearance for personnel is a must. Entities must have a well-trained facility clearance officer knowledgeable of required duties.

    With a bit of advance planning and attention to "boiler plate" clauses, contracting with the government can be an important and profitable portion of any business plan.

    About William Shook
    Bill Shook, co-author of the casebook Government Contract Law, heads Preston Gates & Ellis LLP's Government Contracts, Construction and Procurement Policy practice group.

    Related external links (will open a new window):

  • Preston Gates & Ellis LLP

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  • UW Information School introduces new Masters of Science in Information Management Degree Program

    Sponsored Guest Article by UW iSchool

    A new full-time option for a master's degree in Information Management, geared toward traditional students interested in opening new career possibilities in information fields, is the most recent addition at the University of Washington's Information School (iSchool).

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    Launched in September 2005, the Day Master of Science in Information Management (Day MSIM) program is aimed at students interested in all aspects of information management, coming from almost any undergraduate degree program. The Executive MSIM option (started several years ago) is designed for working professionals who have prior experience in an information field. Executive MSIM classes are held Friday evenings and during the day on Saturdays, allowing students to bring their new-found knowledge immediately into the workplace.

    The Day MSIM program has the same core curriculum as the part-time Executive MSIM program, but requires additional credits for graduation.

    "Because the Executive program is targeted at working professionals with seven to ten years of experience, we assume those students have obtained knowledge from their working life and require fewer credits for graduation," explains MSIM program chair Michael Crandall. "The Day program offers more opportunity for students to build a broader knowledge base through electives and a required internship program."

    As program chair, Crandall's goal is to make MSIM the most sought-after program for information management. "I would hope that over the next few years, we will see our students becoming leaders in this field, both in practical settings and in the research arena, and pointing back to our program as a reason for their success," he says. "A strong internship program and research activities will bring us closer to the community."

    Related external links (will open a new window):

  • Read more at UW Information School

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  • Tri-Cities start-ups get new source of seed capital

    Southeastern Washington may soon experience a surge in start-up technology companies forming thanks to a new source of seed funding. The Columbia Investor Group (CIG), a group of nine accredited investors, have launched a formal angel investor group in the Tri-Cities and joined the Washington Technology Center's Angel Network, a connected alliance of angel groups across the state.

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    Bob Tippett, local business leader and founding member of the Columbia Investor Group, says that the group will bring much-needed start-up financing to early-stage companies in the Tri-Cities area looking to make the transition from concept to company.

    "CIG is a dynamic group of seasoned investors," says Tippett. "They've had experience running successful companies and have strong roots in the Tri-Cities community," he adds. "They understand the dedication, passion and risk it takes to start-up and grow a business and are capable of providing both the funding and mentorship that these entrepreneurs need."

    Private investors, or "angels," are critical to the success of start-ups. They are often the first outside financing that early-stage companies receive beyond what they can raise from family or friends. These wealthy individuals -- usually with extensive business backgrounds -- provide seed funding, and frequently business guidance, to companies that need capital but have not yet matured to the stage of seeking financing from venture firms or financial institutions.

    Many of the CIG members the have made investments in private companies in the past, notes Tippet. However, operating as a solo investor can be time-consuming and challenging. "Forming an investment group and working with WTC's Angel Network Coming provides our members with more investment power," Tippet explains. "We share due diligence and collectively evaluate attractive deals. We can attract more entrepreneurs who see value in presenting to multiple investors at one time."

    CIG will host its first meeting in January at which time it will review funding proposals from two to four local companies. The group will continue to meet quarterly to hear presentations from local companies seeking angel investment.

    Washington Technology Center, through its Angel Network, helps groups like the CIG get started.

    WTC's Angel Network empowers communities to stimulate their own economic growth. Connecting local investors with local entrepreneurs helps these companies grow more rapidly and creates local jobs. It's a win-win-win for the angel, the entrepreneur, and the region.

    The Tri-Cities is a good market for an angel group, notes Silverman, because it has much of the infrastructure in place to support a local technology economy. Over 250 individuals who meet the criteria for being angel investors, combined with strong intellectual property and patent generation, and solid tech employment, are good indicators of the region's ability to start-up and grow companies. Connecting CIG with similar groups within the WTC Angel Network in Wenatchee, Yakima and Walla Walla and other angel groups in Seattle and Spokane amplifies the local infrastructure's effectiveness.

    Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) was also instrumental in helping the Columbia Investor Group to form in the Tri-Cities. The federal lab is a good source of intellectual capital and attracts federal dollars into the region. PNNL's people and IP have formed the basis for more than 100 companies since 1965. "Access to early-stage investment capital from private investors is critical to help grow the local technology-based economy because there is typically a lengthy lag time from the birth of an invention until it appears in the market to generate revenue for the inventor," says Gary Spanner, manager of PNNL's Economic Development Office. "Surveys of local technology businesses have consistently shown the need for greater access to early-stage capital to fill this gap, which is why PNNL helped local investors and WTC get this network started," he added.

    The Columbia Investor Group is the third group in Washington to be formed with assistance from the WTC Angel Network. Existing groups include the Apple Seed Network in Wenatchee and the Bellingham Angels in Bellingham. As a member of the WTC Angel Network, the Columbia Investor Group also has the opportunity to collaborate with other member angel groups across the state. The Network provides the framework for individual groups and member investors to share information and expertise and attract better deals. Collectively, WTC's Angel Network has screened deals from about 150 companies. More than 25 have presented to member groups and have secured an estimated $450,000 in funding so far.

    Related WTC links:

  • WTC Angel Network

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  • Governor Gregoire Appoints New Members to WTC Board

    Governor Christine Gregoire appointed six new members to the Washington Technology Center (WTC) board of directors. WTC's 20-member board is made up of academic and business leaders throughout the state who serve as an advisory arm to the state-charted agency, which promotes technology and innovation-based economic development throughout Washington. Sharp Technology Ventures President Jon Clemens was named chairman of the board.

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    The six newly-appointed board members are:
    * Michael Cockrill, CTO & VP of product development, Vantage Point Mobile, Seattle
    * Paul Hutton, president, Thought Engineering LLC, Issaquah
    * Johannes Koch, independent consultant, Seattle
    * Janet Liang, executive VP, Columbia Region, Group Health Cooperative, Seattle
    * Linden Rhodes, Seattle Ventures, Seattle
    * John Titus, president and CEO, Aero Controls, Auburn

    "WTC is pleased to welcome these six exceptional individuals to our board of directors," said Lee Cheatham, executive director of the Washington Technology Center. "We appreciate the breadth and depth of experience they bring to the table in working with WTC to lead technology economic development efforts in our state."

    Four members were reappointed to new two-year terms:
    * Jon K. Clemens, president and CEO, Sharp Technology Ventures, Camas
    * Jon Eliassen, president, Spokane Area Economic Development Council, Spokane
    * Robin Halliday, CEO, Rivetek, Inc., Bellingham
    * Arlan Norman, dean, College of Sciences & Technology, Western Washington University, Bellingham

    Jon K. Clemens, Ph.D., president and CEO of Sharp Technology Ventures, was elected chairman of the board. Dr. Clemens has more than 30 years experience in electronics research with a focus on multimedia technologies. He has been with Sharp since 1995. Prior positions include president at two small companies and senior vice president of Science and Technology at Stanford Research Institute (SRI) International.

    "I look forward to serving as chairman of WTC's Board," says Dr. Clemens. "Washington is facing stronger competition in high technology business, both from other regions of the U.S. as well as foreign countries. WTC can be a key asset in keeping and increasing high technology business in our state," he adds. "WTC has a dedicated board that works well with the talented staff and together we are helping build Washington's high-tech economy."

    "Dr. Clemens has been very involved as a board member with WTC," notes Dr. Cheatham. "WTC will certainly benefit from his experience and strategic guidance as board chairman as we continue to grow and serve as Washington's champion in channeling its innovation strengths into economic growth."

    The following members will continue their terms on the WTC Board of Directors:

    * Warren Buck, chancellor and dean emeritus, University of Washington Bothell, Bothell
    * Roger Gulrajani, director, Smart Personal Objects Technology Group, Microsoft, Redmond
    * Kim Pearman-Gillman, vice president of marketing, Itron, Spokane
    * Jim Petersen, vice provost for research, Office of Research, Washington State University, Pullman
    * Katherine James Schuitemaker, CEO, The Resonance Group, Seattle
    * Heidi Schumann, president, Fluency Group, Inc., Seattle
    * Jim Severson, vice provost, Office of Technology Transfer, University of Washington, Seattle
    * Katherine R. Tuttle, MD, FACP, director of research, Providence Medical Research Center, Spokane
    * Victor Vasquez, director, Economic Development Division, Washington State Department of Community, Trade & Economic Development, Olympia
    * Kim Zentz, interim executive director, Sirti, Spokane

    Related WTC links:

  • WTC's current board of directors
  • WTC's current board member biographies

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  • Defense & Security Grants Conference draws 150 - December 8, 2005

    More than 150 technology business leaders attended WTC's Defense and Security's Conference on December 8 to learn about government grants and contract opportunities available through a range of Department of Defense programs.

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    The morning featured presentations on two Department of Defense supported programs: TechLink and the Defense Acquisition Challenge Program. Will Swearingen, PhD gave an overview of the federally funded technology transfer program run through TechLink. This program has helped Northwest companies secure over $51 million in R&D; funding and assisted hundreds in becoming defense contractors.

    Dr. Swearingen was followed by Paul Frichtl who gave an informative overview of the Defense Acquisition Challenge Program and offered attendees insights into navigating the world of defense contracts and grants. The DAC program is an opportunity for entrepreneurs to introduce cutting-edge technologies to the Department of Defense for potential military adoption.

    Over lunch, keynote speaker Nelson Ludlow, CEO of Mobilisa, spoke about his company's successes in winning federal grants and government contracts. He also talked about emerging markets and a need for innovative solutions to military and national security challenges, and gave a demonstration of one of Mobilisa's latest products -- a scanning device.

    The afternoon sessions opened with an overview of the Technical Support Work Group program from Erin Nielsen. Ms. Nielsen spoke to attendees about the best way to apply for R&D; funding to rapidly develop technologies to combat terrorism.

    The remainder of the afternoon sessions included an overview of the SBIR program, with a focus on the commercialization phase, from Ray Friesenhahn, a riveting presentation from legal counsel Bill Shook on intellectual property protection, and grant proposal writing tips from Teena Kennedy. The conference concluded with a networking session to allow attendees to spend more time talking with the speakers and to make new contacts to help further business opportunities in this sector.

    "The Washington Technology Center plays a critical role in supporting the growth and development of companies, institutions, and government agencies throughout the state and in fostering good business practices and procedures in this constantly evolving technology market." -- William Shook, Partner, Preston Gates & Ellis LLC, Seattle, Wash.

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