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WTC awarded DARPA grant to launch new nanolithography R&D; program

Washington Technology Center (WTC) has been awarded a contract from the Department of the Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), to launch a new nanolithography applied development program in Washington state. WTC received the $863,000 award to develop and prototype an industrial-grade nano-patterning process in WTC's Microfabrication Laboratory.

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The project is another significant step in the Washington Nanotechnology Initiative (WNI), a collaborative effort by Washington's technology leaders to position our state as a global leader in the use of nanotechnology for next-generation product development.

DARPA's funding of WTC's nanolithography program provides Northwest companies with the foundation processes they need to evolve their product innovations. Washington state has a solid research and industry base in micro-electronics and semiconductors. These are the building blocks from which many nano-scale technologies are emerging. To keep the state's companies competitive, the state needs to ensure companies are able to act on market opportunities as they arise. WTC's program provides companies with the infrastructure and resources to do this.

Nanolithography's appeal lies in its incredible versatility. It allows virtually any material to be patterned onto a wide range of substrates at an extremely small scale –- down to the molecular level. This opens up endless possibilities for creating more sophisticated materials, sensors, circuitry, and other applications.

DARPA supports projects and initiatives where the research and technology development payoff is high with respect to amplifying military operations and missions. Nanolithography is a key component in defense applications and has significant commercial value. Nanotechnology-based products are estimated to generate $1 trillion in sales over the next decade. Many of Washington's dominant and emerging industries, including life sciences, energy, manufacturing, electronics and agriculture, will directly benefit from nanolithography process development. Current technologies that rely on nanolithography include fuel cells, drug-delivery devices, microelectronics and photonics.

Nano-scale technology demand will most likely emulate microelectronics in that commercial adoption will be driven by price and manufacturability. Robustness and reliability of nano-scale processes will be the benchmark for performance and economy of scale in medical devices, energy systems and materials-based products. The work that WTC will undertake through this grant project will advance these processes to the quality and volume required for commercial use.

Related WTC links:

  • WTC Microfabrication Laboratory

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  • WTC Releases 2006 Index of Innovation & Technology

    2006 Washington State Index of Innovation and TechnologyWashington Technology Center (WTC) will release its 2006 Washington State Index of Innovation and Technology on April 28, 2006 at the Washington State Technology Summit. Copies of the report, fresh off the press, will be available at the conference.

    Compiled and published annually by WTC, the Index is a statistical snapshot of our state's ability to grow and sustain an economy supported by technology and innovation. It is based on a comprehensive set of indicators and data points that illustrate our performance on six critical drivers: innovation, competitiveness, growth, financial capacity, human potential and quality of life. Data and performance measures that contribute to these drivers are reported comparatively both at the state level and among 12 regions within Washington state.*

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    The Index, now in its sixth year of publication, illustrates trends on how our state has performed historically against these technology drivers. Overall, Washington is a tech-savvy state and ranks high among peer states as an entrepreneurial region. But, this has not been without struggle. The recession experienced in the earlier part of the millennium had an impact on the state's economy. In some cases we are just now seeing our technology industries bounce back from this downturn.

    Below are highlights of some of the findings in the 2006 Index:

    • Washington's technology sector represents 11 percent of the state's total employment. This is down slightly from previous years. This is primarily due to the strong influence of the aerospace industry, which continued to shed jobs, although at a much lower rate in 2004. Most of the newer tech sectors gained ground and software and life sciences showed steady increases in dominance between 1999 and 2004.
    • Venture capital placements expanded. Washington firms received nearly twice the aggregate amount of venture capital funding compared to the previous year. The number of Northwest firms receiving funding jumped from 104 in 2003 to 152 in 2004.
    • Washington state continues to flex its export muscle. For five years in a row, Washington has ranked first nationally in exports on a per capita basis and fifth nationally in export value.
    • Washington state has historically ranked high in innovation measures, with strong patent generation and a high rate of business "churn" or new company starts and closures. This year, the state lost ground in the latter, slipping from first nationally in new company creation to second, and placing first for company closures.
    • Federal funding (SBIR awards) continue to climb, with a 24 percent increase in Washington state awards.
    • Washington's workforce is skilled. The percentage of Washington residents with high school and college degrees remains above the national average, a trend that has continued for several years. Washington universities granted more than 3,900 science and technology degrees last year.
    • From a regional perspective, job growth trends varied. Eight out of the 12 regions measured show some growth in technology employment, with some of the state's smaller communities showing the highest percentage of growth (Olympia, Pullman and Bremerton).

    The Index serves as a resource for Washington's technology leaders and policymakers to help evaluate and shape strategies that encourage and support sustainable economic development and provide a springboard for promoting Washington's competitive strengths on a national basis.

    Paul Sommers, Seattle University economics professor and director of the Center on Metropolitan Development, has been instrumental in analyzing the data and developing the content for the Index since its inception.

    *Statistical data in the 2006 Index is from 2004 and 2005, the most current available at the time of publication.

    Related WTC links:

  • 2006 Washington State Index of Innovation and Technology
  • 2006 NAICS Industry Codes [PDF]
  • View a regional profile from our Tri-Cities Sponsors [PDF]

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  • Energy Companies Get New Source of Seed Capital

    Early-stage companies working on energy-related technologies may soon experience a surge of seed funding from a new industry-focused angel group. Northwest Energy Angel Group, a regional angel investor group, is aiming to provide the financial fuel to get these new power ventures up and running.

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    The Northwest Energy Angel Group got its start from mindshare among two Washington Technology Center programs: the WTC Angel Network and the Northwest Energy Technology Collaborative (NWETC). There was a strong interest from Angel Network investors to explore industry-specific angel groups. At the same time, energy entrepreneurs working with the NWETC expressed a need for easier access to seed capital. The result was Northwest Energy Angels –- a cross-border, regional investment group that focuses on energy-related ventures.

    Martin Tobias, a partner with Ignition Corp., a Northwest-based venture capital firm, and president of Seattle Biodiesel, is a founding member and was instrumental in getting the group formed. "Energy efficiency and new sources of power are some of the most critical needs facing the world today. Innovation in these areas is especially strong in the northwest," notes Tobias. "The region has entrepreneurs and researchers working in this space, and passionate, knowledgeable investors and supporters that can help young companies grow. An energy-focused investment group is a natural next step to moving this forward," adds Tobias.

    Industry-specific angel investing is attractive on many levels. The investors are like-minded and knowledgeable about the sector and technology. This can go a long way in stimulating deal flow and helping companies get the funding and mentorship needed to penetrate the market.

    The Northwest Energy Angel Group has 19 active members and hopes to expand that number by year's end.

    To date, the group has heard proposals from nine energy companies and has funded one company. Another deal is near completion. The group meets six times a year in Seattle, and plans to host additional meetings in locations around the Northwest including Portland and British Columbia. Each meeting will feature three to four companies that have been pre-screened for investment.

    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. VCs and utilities tend to be later-stage adopters. They are more interested in funding the companies that are further along in their business development. Angel investment is vital for the viability of these next-generation energy ventures. Without this early-stage funding, many of these opportunities would never get off the ground.

    Related external links (will open a new window):

  • Northwest Energy Angels

    Related WTC links:


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  • WTC Client Profile: WTC's Business Services Help EnerG2 Define Market Niche

    EnerG2 is an early-stage nano composite company based in Seattle. Co-founded in 2003 by two seasoned entrepreneurs with Stanford MBAs, the company's proprietary technology is based on unique activated carbons. This material is an ideal conduit in a wide range of industrial, environmental, military and medical applications.

    In 2004, EnerG2 teamed with Dr. Guozhong Cao, an Associate Professor in the Materials Science and Engineering department at the University of Washington, to develop the engineer-ability and performance of their proprietary carbon-based material. Dr. Cao was familiar with Washington Technology Center (WTC) and suggested they collectively apply for a research grant from WTC to supplement the research and development costs. Over the course of two years, the team received $140,000 in grant funding from WTC to complete their research.

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    The attractiveness of EnerG2's product is that it easily adapts to a variety of applications. The unique properties of the nano-engineered carbon allow its porosity and surface-area to be fine-tuned and customized for a wide array of uses. For EnerG2, a key success factor was identifying which of these markets was the best match for their technology and would provide sustainable growth for the company in the long and short term.

    Through WTC's grant program, the company was given the option of applying a portion of their cash matching requirement to consulting services. EnerG2 executives Rick Luebbe and Chris Wheaton recognized this as a unique opportunity. They saw genuine added value in being able to leverage the broad-based experience and connections of the Washington Technology Center to accomplish much of the legwork needed to move the company forward.

    "After completing our research project, we gave a presentation to WTC's advisory board and got excellent feedback on markets for our technology. From that input, we had a better understanding of the importance of identifying early-stage market opportunities," says Rick Luebbe, EnerG2's co-founder and chief executive officer.

    According to Luebbe, he and Wheaton felt a consulting contract with WTC had three key advantages. "First, we wanted to access the knowledge base and resources of the Washington Technology Center. Second, it provided the opportunity to delegate the fundamental 'blocking and tackling' work that needed to be done to take the company to the next level, and third, we wanted to utilize Elaine's specific experience in business planning and venture capital funding."

    "EnerG2 was smart in how they chose to use our services," notes Elaine Kong, manager of WTC's business consulting services program. "We settled on a three-pronged approach to getting the information we needed to move forward. The first was market research, the second was business planning and the third was a strategy for industrial-scale manufacturing."

    "We literally made a list of the things we needed to do," explains Luebbe. "Elaine reviewed the list and indicated where she could contribute the most, and from there, we jointly came up with a game plan."

    Specifically, EnerG2 needed to identify short-, mid- and long-term markets for their technology and roll this into their business plan before going after capital investment. They also wanted to address the issue of manufacturing scalability to ensure the company could meet industrial demand for the product.

    During their research work with Dr. Cao, EnerG2's product proved to be an optimal absorbing material for industrial gas storage. The company's original plan was to go after the hydrogen market. This gas is attracting growing interest across the globe as a driving force in clean energy production. However, the hydrogen economy is proving challenging due t technical barriers and is still many years away, classifying it as a late-stage market opportunity.

    The company was interested in three primary markets for high performance activated carbons: industrial gas storage, filters and super capacitors. Elaine and her team weighed the opportunities and barriers for each of these markets against EnerG2's technology. Industrial gas storage technology has changed very little over the past 50 years. This market has low incentive for change and high regulation and compliance requirements. The bulk nature of the filter market makes its price point too low for the sophistication of EnerG2's product.

    Elaine recommended that the company pursue the makers of super capacitors in the short-term. Super capacitors are an ideal match for the company's technology and are a high-end market with a premium pricing strategy that can better absorb the cost of technology development and product customization. In addition, the super capacitor market has manufacturers who are ready to buy the material now. This strategy also allows the company to maintain its core mission as an energy company. Short-term, the focus will be electrical energy; long-term, the adaptability of EnerG2's product can easily be transitioned to hydrogen gas storage when that market is more mature.

    Once the market analysis was completed, Elaine put her extensive connections to work for Luebbe and Wheaton. This included introducing them to pioneers in the field of industrial engineering who could share experiences in manufacturing scalability, experts in the super capacitor space, venture capitalists that could help prepare them for future funding rounds, and suppliers looking for novel carbon materials.

    "This saved us valuable time in having to do this research ourselves," notes Luebbe. "In many instances, WTC already had the relationships in place, so it was much easier to connect with these people and build our business contact network."
    Kong concurs. "Rick and Chris were able to use the flexibility and personalized nature of WTC's services to their full advantage. Our niche is that we act as a business strategy and market research arm for companies," she adds. "This frees up the time of the executive team to put their efforts elsewhere, where they're most needed."

    "What also helped is that they were very clear on their goals," explains Kong. "This helped us focus our efforts and accomplish key milestones more quickly and efficiently."

    WTC's cross-functional service model is targeted to entrepreneurial businesses. Customers can get plugged into WTC's network and gain access to a wide range of resources that will help them through each step of their company's growth cycle.
    In EnerG2's case, the company received both grant funding and expert consulting in business growth strategy. Next steps within WTC might include a funding proposal through WTC's energy angel investment group, Northwest Energy Angels, or participation in the Northwest Energy Showcase or Northwest EnVenture, two commercialization programs run by the Northwest Energy Collaborative, part of WTC's industry initiative program.

    "We have an entire suite of services that caters to the needs of entrepreneurial and growth-focused companies," explains Kong. "Just as you would choose an investment portfolio for your financial future, companies can customize WTC's programs to fit their needs." WTC offers research grants, education and information on federal funding programs, seed capital through its angel network, and personalized consulting through its business consulting services. "We want our clients to know that WTC can help them at multiples stages in their development," emphasizes Kong.

    In the end, EnerG2 achieved three critical milestones through their work with WTC's business consultants. They clearly established markets that were a good fit for their technology; they gained access to valuable experts in their field and built key relationships with potential customers and partners; and they outlined the main components of their new business plan. The company's next steps are to continue to leverage the relationships they developed through WTC's assistance and take their newly-minted business strategy before investors in late 2006.

    Related WTC links:

  • EnerG2 is a WTC client
  • WTC Business Consulting

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  • Evolving Best Practices Can Remove Barriers to Entry for New Energy Technologies

    What's the biggest challenge facing new energy technologies today? Red tape. The colloquial nature of the term, which dates back to the 18th century and refers to the color of the cloth tape bound around stacks of official documents, is aptly fitting. Archaic local permitting procedures are limiting the ability of many innovative clean and alternative energy providers to get their products and services to market.

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    Take for example solar photovoltaic (pv) cells. Solar power has been around since the late 1960s. Yet, 40 years later, solar pv installations still pose regulatory challenges for providers.

    Recently, a Washington high school wanted to install solar panels on the roof of one of their buildings to decrease energy costs. However, city officials delayed the work until they could conduct their own inspection of the project. This was in addition to the utility company's inspection. Hardly worth the time, effort and cost for equipment weighing less than 50 pounds. Even more surprising was the insistence by the city to conduct their own study rather than granting the necessary permits based on existing standards or best practices around this type of installation.

    Fuel cell installation faces similar challenges. Hydrogen is one of the most cost-effective clean energy solutions available. Yet uncertainty around storage of the gas has translated into excessive safety regulations. Propose a hydrogen fuel cell installation and you get a reaction on the scale of someone trying to dock the Hindenburg at the town hall. Yet welding shops typically store ten times the amount of hydrogen than what's required for fuel cells. Biodiesel processing plants are another example. Biodiesel is a highly effective, clean energy solution whose base product is vegetable oil with very little, if any, environmental risk. Yet, often these processing plants are subjected to the same regulatory restraints as a fossil fuel refinery.

    For start-ups with limited capital, getting to market with their products is critical. Field tests for new energy technologies can take upwards of six months; sometimes as long as 18 months. This is a significant barrier to entry for these small companies. Delays of this length can result in lost sales and impact the thin cash flow of start-ups. Poised for Profit, a study commissioned by Pacific Northwest utilities and economic development agencies, surveyed hundreds of start-up companies on top barriers to entry. The number one barrier cited by these energy companies is government regulations.

    Cities can work effectively with these energy companies to break through this red tape. Just a few steps can create a more business-friendly environment for energy technologies:

    1. Be proactive. Don't wait for the technology to show up. Think about that line from the baseball movie Field of Dreams: "If you build it, they will come." With a little forethought and planning, cities can evaluate these energy products and businesses and adopt standards that lead to faster permitting and more streamlined regulatory compliance. Zoning is also important. Cities should plan where these energy technologies could be sited.

    2. Don't reinvent the wheel. Much of the work surrounding best practices for new energy technologies such as biodiesel, fuel cells, solar, wind and other alternative power has already been done. There are great model ordinances out there that can easily be adopted by municipalities. The U.S. Hydrogen Association catalogues a number of resources on their website. Massachusetts' Solar to Market Initiative has paved the way for pv installations in more than 90 cities, and Philadelphia's Million Solar Roofs Community Partnership references a DOE-supported handbook, Bringing Solar Energy to the Planned Community, detailing rooftop pv installations.

    3. Provide an Incentive. There is little motivation for utilities to embrace new energy solutions. The pay out rate is the same regardless of the method. Use meters as an example. Utilities receive the same profit margin whether the meter is manual or digital. By offering incentives to utilities that buy and install more energy efficient products and services, it increases the likelihood that these technologies will be absorbed into the mainstream marketplace.

    4. Think long term. Most cities have economic development plans in place. Conservation should be at the forefront of these plans. Cities need to look beyond the short-term and consider life-cycle costs. It may be more effective in the long term to run critical applications off of a fuel cell versus relying on a diesel generator, which backs up all energy sources, but may be unnecessary as well as costly.

    5. Lead by example. Governments stand to benefit from alternative energy solutions just as much as private sector. Determining how city operations could be improved through the use of cleaner and more efficient energy sources should be a priority. And the purchase of these energy technologies should be build into the government's procurement programs.

    These five action items could go a long way in accelerating the adoption of new energy technologies. By taking a more proactive stance in permitting, regulation, and procurement, Pacific Northwest cities will open the door for more companies to develop and commercialize clean, efficient and renewable energy solutions. And, in the end, these cities will benefit from new jobs based on cleaner and sustainable energies.

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    The million-dollar question for tech start-ups: where do I find funding?

    One of the biggest challenges facing early-stage technology companies is seed funding. Once you've honed in on a concept, assembled your team, and hammered out a business plan, the next step is securing capital to make it happen. This may seem simple, but it can be one of the toughest tasks facing an entrepreneur. Spending a few minutes assessing your options could save you time and secure you money.

    Angel vs. Venture Capital
    The initial inclination for many companies seeking funding is to go after venture capital. VC firms are a good source for investment, but they typically look for advanced-stage ventures. For early-stage companies, angel investment is an attractive alternative. As of 2006, Angel investing is a $20 billion industry in the U.S. Over half a million companies are started in this country every year. Angels invest in about 50,000 of these ventures. In contrast, VCs invest in about 200 –- or two percent –- of these start-ups.

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    When it Comes to Investment, Size Matters
    An angel round typically ranges between $250,000 and $2 million; VCs investments are generally $5 million or greater. By starting with smaller investments by angels, entrepreneurs can meet key milestones and build value in the company before going after VC funding. An initial round of $1 million –- or even $500,000 –- can go a long way towards this effort.

    To Market, To Market
    New companies typically take seven to 10 years to mature. If your to-market cycle falls in this range, it may be too soon for venture capital. VCs have aggressive timeframes, generally seeking laudable returns in three to five years. Angels are more patient investors. They also have shorter funding cycles –- two to four months. VCs average six to nine months.

    A Vested Interest
    Angels are more than wealthy individuals with a penchant for risk. They are often seasoned entrepreneurs, well-versed in how to set up and grow a successful business. An angel's interest in a company extends beyond the return in investment. They can serve as mentors or advisors to a company and assist in business planning and execution. However, don't be fooled into thinking they don't care about returns. Angels are savvy investors who will put a company through the hoops to determine its risk-reward ratio.

    Location, Location, Location
    Angel investors tend to invest locally, typically within 50 miles of their home. This can be advantageous when economic incentives exist for keeping tech companies in the community. It can also mean better odds of being funded. VCs primarily work at the regional and national level. The process is highly competitive and the pool of candidates much broader.

    Calling All Angels
    The most-often heard complaint from entrepreneurs is that they can't access angels. True, it's easier to find VCs –- an Internet search will yield dozens of queries. While angels don't hang a shingle outside their door advertising their portfolios, accessing them may be easier than you think. Talk to people in your market space. Tap your lawyer, CPA, and business colleagues –- you may be surprised who knows who. And network, network, network –- attend entrepreneur functions, join a trade association, participate in investment forums.

    There are organizations, like Washington Technology Center, that help companies access angel investors. WTC's Angel Network screens deals and funnels them to local angel groups. It also helps new groups get started, especially in areas outside of Seattle. WTC also trains entrepreneurs how to present to angels and what to look for in a funding partner through workshops and seminars. Finding an angel is like finding a job –- it's all about the connections. And, with a little work, you can be the standout candidate.

    Related external links (will open a new window):

  • Angel Capital Association

    Related WTC links:

  • WTC Angel Network

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  • Protecting Intellectual Property Rights is Vital in Joint Development Projects

    Sponsored Guest Column by Brett Brett A. Hertzberg and Gina Vogel Culbert of Merchant & Gould

    The old adage that you can't go it alone is particularly true with innovative technologies. The costs required to develop a new technology can be considerable. Joint development projects –- ones that pair companies with academic researchers or industrial partners –- can bring development costs under control and decrease the financial risk of entering into new technology markets. The Washington Technology Center's Microfabrication Lab Facility is one example of a research and development facility which partners with both industry and academia in the field of micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS).

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    Participation in a joint development project does bring up the issue of Intellectual Property (IP) ownership. It's important to clearly understand what constitutes IP and how to protect it. Failure to establish rights can lead to costly legal actions, as well as the inability to enforce IP rights. Knowing a few basics can help ensure that joint development projects result in innovation, not litigation.

    Patent Ownership A patent creates a right to exclude others from making, using or selling an invention for a limited period of time. Initial ownership of patent rights vests in the "inventor." Joint inventors acquire equal, undivided interests in a patent, and may use or authorize others to practice the patent without accounting to the other inventors.

    Ownership rights for patents and patent applications can be assigned in writing. Employers typically require employees to assign patent rights to any inventions developed within the scope of employment. In a joint development project, contracts and assignments should cover who has what patent rights. Because an assignment has consequences relating to who can enforce the patent and what damages the owner can collect, it is important to fully evaluate the patent's potential uses, and to craft assignment agreements properly and to the correct entity.

    Copyright Ownership
    Joint development projects often produce written materials that may be subject to copyright. Ownership of the copyright vests in the "author" of the work. Joint authors may each exercise the rights under the copyright, subject to an accounting to the others.

    Generally, an employer is considered the "author" for a work prepared by an employee within the scope of their employment. Specially commissioned works are owned by the person or entity that commissioned the work. Copyright rights can be assigned or licensed by written agreement. A clear understanding of the parties' relative contributions to a work and a written agreement regarding ownership is essential in any joint project.

    Open source and Standards Bodies
    The use of open source code in software, as well as participation in standards bodies also implicates IP ownership rights. Some open source agreements and some standards groups require full assignment of all IP rights into the open source consortium or standards group. Courts may also imply assignment of IP rights absent a written agreement. All of this has implications for enforceability of IP.

    In any project in which technology is jointly developed, written agreements should be prepared to address IP ownership issues. Pay special attention to the "small print" in standard contracts and make sure the contract fits the parties' intent and your future business model. If it doesn't, negotiate the necessary changes.

    Authors Brett A. Hertzberg, a patent attorney, and Gina Vogel Culbert, a litigator, are attorneys with the intellectual property firm of Merchant & Gould in its Seattle office.

    Related external links (will open a new window):

  • Merchant & Gould

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  • UW iSchool Offers Programs in Information Management

    Sponsored Guest Column by UW iSchool

    In today's hyper-competitive and turbulent environments, the very essence of an organization is determined by how information is managed and leveraged. The Information School (iSchool) of the University of Washington continues to expand professional opportunities in the area of Information Management.

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    The iSchool already offers the Master of Science in Information Management (MSIM), both as a full-time option (Day MSIM) and as a part-time option (Executive MSIM) for working professionals who attend classes on Friday evenings and during the day on Saturdays. Recent developments for the iSchool include the establishment of the Institute for Innovation in Information Management, and upcoming summer offerings in the areas of Knowledge Management and Information Architecture.

    In order to stay competitive, an organization must find novel ways to engage its information and knowledge resources through innovation in information management. The Institute for Innovation in Information Management (I3M) is chartered with the mission to be the premier research institute that will help organizations attain agility and competitive successes by managing their most vital assets -- information and knowledge. The Institute undertakes research projects shaped by the interests of the research partners and expertise of I3M faculty associates. Discussion at the inaugural meeting of the Institute centered on the theme of Business Continuity, with a specific emphasis on discovering enablers and barriers to transfer of knowledge within communities of practice to support business strategy and drivers.

    The Institute sponsored a 1-day symposium at the beginning of April focused around "Knowledge Management in Turbulent Times." Parsons Brinckerhoff, one of the Institute's partners, presented research undertaken in this area in conjunction with the iSchool. The research examines characteristics of their Practice Area Networks to find indicators of success in moving knowledge across the organization to meet business objectives.

    The iSchool is also offering opportunities this summer to study Knowledge Management and Information Architecture.

    Knowledge Management: Conceptual Foundations and Current Best Practices
    June 12-16, 2006
    The institute is a one-week intensive course that introduces participants to the conceptual foundations and current best practices in KM. The program is designed for professionals who have been identified by their organizations as individuals who are likely to have more strategic technical or managerial responsibilities within the next two to four years. Most participants will have work experience that may range from business analysts, computer programmers, and accountants to other roles that involve managing information.

    Information Architecture Summer Workshop
    September 11 - 15, 2006
    This five-day intensive workshop covers the key elements of IA –understanding users' information needs, building architectural frameworks to store information effectively, proper organizing and labeling of information for improved navigation and search, and perceiving opportunities where information architecture can increase business value. Each of these areas will be explored through lectures, interactive exercises and discussion led by University faculty and industry experts.

    Related external links (will open a new window):

  • UW iSchool

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  • Regional Publication Keeps West Coast Readers Apprised of Growing Trends in Ecological Innovation

    Sponsored Guest Column by Sustainble Industries Journal

    A large and growing percentage of consumers, businesses and governments are asking questions about companies' environmental and social practices. Before purchasing a product or service, buyers increasingly want to know how a company's products impact human and environmental health. This trend creates significant opportunity for companies to capitalize on this demand. It also increases the risk for companies who ignore it.

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    Sustainable Industries Journal (SIJ), the leading business magazine following sustainable business trends along the West Coast, reports on how profits can be derived from ecological innovation. Renewable energy, green building, sustainable farming, recycled markets–what opportunities for innovation and growth do they present? SIJ asks these questions through in-depth articles and industry analysis every month.

    Each month SIJ explores a new focus such as Clean Energy, Organic Food, Real Estate, Recycling, Green Building Products, Education, and Branding, to name a few. SIJ reports on these industries and compiles lists ranking the top companies on the West Coast within each of these sectors. These lists are published individually in each issue and in the Sustainable Industries Overview.

    SIJ has a committed following of business and public sector innovators. The SIJ reader is someone who does not just blindly accept the way things have been done in the past, but someone who is always striving to do better, to be more competitive, and to try new things. Business people read SIJ and ask themselves how they can capitalize on this trend called "sustainability" to create competitive advantage for their companies. Entrepreneurs are reading SIJ and asking themselves how they can create innovative new products and bring them successfully to market. Consumers are reading SIJ and asking themselves how they can better meet their personal goals of sustainability through their consumption habits.

    If you want to learn how sustainable business practices and innovations are changing the economy, hear what the leading business minds have to say, and discover the best new green products on the market, consider a subscription to Sustainable Industries Journal.

    Related external links (will open a new window):

  • Sustainable Industries Journal

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  • Don't Miss the 2006 Washington State Technology Summit - April 28, 2006

    There's still time to sign up for the 2006 Washington State Technology Summit. Hosted by Washington Technology Center (WTC), the Tech Summit is the only regional conference to bring together technology leaders from across the state to discuss trends, challenges, and opportunities across multiple technology industries central to Washington state's economic growth.

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    The daylong conference features more than 38 presenters from leading industries, universities, and government agencies across the region and includes a value-add mix of general sessions and targeted industry tracks.

    The plenary sessions provide an overview of industry growth trends in our state, while the industry tracks pinpoint individual opportunities within four of our state's most viable technology sectors: aerospace, agriculture, software and renewable energy. All sessions emphasize and highlight the critical role that scientific research and technology commercialization play in economic growth and the importance for Washington's leadership to foster and nurture this environment.

    Pamela Passman, director of Global Corporate Affairs for Microsoft is the luncheon keynote speaker for the 2006 Technology Summit. A host of other presenters from industry, academia and government round out the agenda. These include Russell Maguire, Technical Fellow, Boeing; Rick Rashad, Senior Vice President of Research for Microsoft; Chris Cassidy, Program Director for the U.S. Department of Agriculture; John Shovic, Eastern Washington University professor and cyber security expert; Tom Halle, Senior Director for Strategic Alliances, Aventail; John Plaza, Seattle Bio-Diesel, and Dennis Rogoza BC Fleet Challenge.

    The Tech Summit also features a technology vendor showcase with more than 40 exhibits. The showcase opens at 7 a.m. and runs through the day, concluding with a hosted reception from 5 to 6 p.m.

    Cost to attend the Washington Technology Summit is $150.

    Washington Technology Summit
    April 28, 2006 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
    Microsoft Conference Center
    Redmond, WA

    Related WTC links:

  • Washington's Innovation Summit

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  • AccessIQ Seminar: The Business of R&D; - May 18, 2006

    AccessIQ, a seminar series hosted by WTC's Microfabrication Laboratory, takes a case study approach to exploring the latest R&D; trends in micro- and nano-scale process development and fabrication. At the next breakfast meeting, set for Thursday, May 18, 2006, the focus is the "Business of R&D.;" Attendees will explore how effective and innovative process development can open new doors for partnerships, product manufacturing and, ultimately, commercial success.

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    To illustrate this, industry partners and legal experts will discuss effective ways to recognize opportunities, protect intellectual property, and continue to innovate throughout the R&D;, prototyping, and commercialization process. Participants will also hear from experts in the field on their "best practices" for breaking into new markets, competing in existing ones, and successfully transitioning a process from lab prototype to commercially manufactured product.

    The Business of R&D; seminar runs from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and is held at the University of Washington Club on the UW Campus in Seattle. Cost to attend this AccessIQ workshop is $35. Breakfast and course materials are included. Space is limited.

    Related WTC links:

  • WTC Microfabrication Laboratory

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  • SBIR Breakfast Seminar is June 6, 2006

    Federal grants are one of the best ways for companies to fund critical research needed to further their business development goals, and give them that competitive edge in the commercial market.

    Washington Technology Center hosts a series of quarterly breakfast meetings devoted to the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. SBIR is one of the most popular technology grants programs in the U.S. Effectively navigating this system –- from understanding each agency's needs to knowing what makes a proposal stand out among the competition –- can equate to hundreds of thousands of grant dollars.

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    Each SBIR Breakfast meeting has its own individual topic ranging from proposal preparation to agency technology trends to understanding government contracts. The seminars also feature presentations from past winners about their experiences. This first-hand knowledge-share can be helpful in helping like-minded companies gain insight into this grant program.

    The next SBIR breakfast is scheduled for June 6, 2006 from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the University of Washington Club, on the UW Campus in Seattle. Admission to the breakfast seminar is $35.

    Related WTC links:

  • WTC SBIR program

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  • Governor appoints academic leaders to WTC Board

    Governor Christine Gregoire recently appointed four academic representatives to the Washington Technology Center (WTC) board of directors. The newly-appointed board members are: Michael Bisesi, Director of the Center for Nonprofit and Social Enterprise Management, Seattle University; Ralph Cavalieri, Associate Dean for Research, College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Resource Sciences, Washington State University; Dennis Dyck, Vice Chancellor of Research, Washington State University; and Hal Dengerink; Chancellor; Washington State University

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    These four members join 20 academic and business leaders who make up WTC's board and serve as an advisory arm to the state-charted agency, which promotes technology and innovation-based economic development throughout Washington. Six industry representatives were appointed by Governor Gregoire to the WTC board in January. These additions are Linden Rhoads, Seattle Ventures; Michael Cockrill, Qpass; Paul Hutton, Cognition Partners; Johannes Koch, Independent Consultant; Janet Liang, Group Health Cooperative; and John Titus, Aero Controls.

    Jon K. Clemens, President and CEO of Sharp Technology Ventures, was reappointed to the board and elected Chairman. Three other representatives have been reappointed to new two-year terms: Jon Eliassen, Spokane Area EDC; Robin Halliday, Rivetek, Inc.; and Arlan Norman, Western Washington University.

    Ten members continue their existing terms: Roger Gulrajani, Microsoft; Kim Pearman-Gillman, Itron; Katherine James Schuitemaker, The Resonance Group; Heidi Schumann, Fluency Group, Inc.; Katherine R. Tuttle, Providence Medical Research Center; Warren Buck, UW Bothell; Jim Petersen, Washington State University; Jim Severson, University of Washington; Victor Vasquez, Washington State Department of Community, Trade & Economic Development; and Kim Zentz, Sirti.

    Two additional academic appointments are expected to be announced by the Governor's office later this year.

    Related WTC links:

  • WTC's current board of directors
  • Biographies of current board of directors

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  • Institute Söliv opens in Seattle -- Prototype facility will help company shape its commercial future

    Söliv is a Seattle-based skin care company with a breakthrough product line based on marine biotechnology.

    Founder and CEO, Diane Boratyn, first connected with the Washington Technology Center (WTC) in 2001. Söliv received a research grant from WTC to collaborate with researchers in the University of Washington's botany department to develop an advanced aquaculture system for cultivating the specific seaweed strain used in the company's proprietary skin care product line.

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    The WTC grant, in combination with support from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), allowed Söliv to develop a platform for natural selection and propagation of its raw base material -- a red ocean algae -- and to "farm" these materials for multi-product development and full-scale manufacturing.

    In 2004, Boratyn again tapped into WTC resources and contracted with Elaine Kong, manager of WTC's business consulting services, to help develop a marketing and sales strategy to position the company for its next growth phase. With a strong business model in place, Söliv begin to realize new growth. The company added staff, expanded production and manufacturing operations, penetrated target markets and increased sales.

    In January 2006, Söliv celebrated the launch of its flagship training center at Seattle's University Village. This is the first of the company's bricks and mortar operations and serves as both an education facility, treatment center, and retail store.

    Institute Söliv represents the third step in the company's vertically-integrated Washington operations which include seaweed farms on the Kitsap Peninsula, manufacturing operations in downtown Seattle, and Institute Söliv.

    Boratyn explains that the Institute is a "concept location" for Söliv and will serve as a prototype for the company's retail sales moving forward. The Institute opens in tandem with the roll out of the company's new Sea 2 Skin™ brand, the trade label for its red algae-based nutraceutical skin care line.

    The unique nature of the product makes education and inventory control important factors in its sales strategy. The company's marketing approach is currently centered on outreach, referrals, and word-of-mouth. Distribution channels include both wholesale and retail partners including high-end spas, physicians, naturopaths and skin care specialists. Clients can also book appointments for services at Institute Söliv. The addition of Institute Söliv will help the company expand its retails sales, further define its niche market, and determine branding strategies moving forward.

    Related external links (will open a new window):

  • www.Sö

    Related WTC links:

  • Söliv is a WTC client

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  • Microfabrication Lab Supports Process Innovation in Photovoltaic R&D;

    Working on leading-edge R&D; related to high performance photovoltaics? The Microfabrication Laboratory at Washington Technology Center (WTC) may be just the facility you are looking for to support your product development. The professionally staffed, state-of-the-art lab, complete with clean room, is equipped with all the process tools needed to research, develop, test, and prototype photovoltaic cells, photonics and solid-state devices.

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    The lab's processes and tools specialize in depositing, removing, patterning and characterizing materials at the micro and nano-scale level. These base applications offer a strong foundation from which innovative photovoltaic products can be developed and open the doors for companies to go after near-term opportunities in this field.

    The lab is capable of patterning, etching, depositing and characterizing materials at the micro and nano-scale level. These base applications offer a strong foundation from which innovative photovoltaic products can be developed and open the doors for companies to go after near-term opportunities in this field.

    Efficiency has long been the standard by which compelling new product offerings are judged. The WTC lab has been instrumental in allowing clients to develop next generation micro- and nano-scale products that meet the high demand for power, scale, and cost effectiveness in electronics, fluidics, optics, and fuel cells.

    There's a strong interest in energy efficiency. WTC wants the pioneers working in this sector to know there are resources available to help them deliver their products to market faster and more affordably, without having to sacrifice proprietary control or process quality.

    WTC's Microfabrication Lab is capable of supporting multiple processes integral to photovoltaic fabrication including thin film evaporaion, copper plating, and thin film silicon on glass. The facility maximizes process innovation to allow engineers to develop leading-edge technology that will accelerate the adoption of photovoltaic devices into the commercial marketplace. Breakthrough applications developed and supported at the lab include anti-reflective coatings that increase light absorption and a silicon nanowire-on-glass process for cutting-edge research into third generation photovoltaics.

    In addition to its turn-key appeal, the lab's competitive edge comes from its reputation as an entrepreneur-friendly facility. While there are other facilities in the U.S. and abroad with similar infrastructure for photovoltaics R&D; and prototyping, WTC's lab has a unique advantage in that is was founded on the principle of collaboration and low barriers of entry. Lab clients frequently comment on the lab's commitment to keeping access fees affordable and scalable to allow even early-stage companies to use the lab's services, the consistency of the lab's contract staff to turn out quality work on time and on budget, and the lab's inimitable policy of allowing users to maintain ownership and control of their individual process innovations.

    Related WTC links:

  • WTC Microfabrication Lab

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  • Nanotech Education Could Pay Off for Washington Employers

    Nanotechnology is widely believed to be the next breakthrough technology to alter the performance and quality of everything from electronics to energy, clothing to cosmetics, cars to cancer treatment. How we prepare our industries to embrace this revolution affects how well our state competes in a tech-savvy global economy. A key element is human capital.

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    Nanotechnology is estimated to create or impact hundreds of thousands of jobs worldwide over the next decade. A readily-available, well-trained workforce is essential for local companies to compete in these competitive new markets.

    In September 2005, North Seattle Community College (NSCC) became the first college in Washington state to offer an Associate of Applied Science-Transfer (AAS-T) degree in Nanotechnology. The Microfabrication Laboratory at Washington Technology Center (WTC) and the University of Washington's Center for Nanotechnology are integral partners in the program.

    Both facilities, housed in Fluke Hall on the University of Washington campus in Seattle, provide students access to specialized equipment and processes for hands-on lab sessions as part of the program curricula.

    NSCC's 103-credit degree prepares graduates for entry-level technician positions in the nano/micro-fabrication and related manufacturing industries. A unique aspect of the NSCC program is its focus on real-world application. In addition to academic study in the field of nanotechnology, students take part in lab classes that allow them to perform process work integral to the development of next generation micro and nano-scale products.

    WTC's customers are already anticipating market adoption of nano-scale products and materials and are adapting their processes to address this paradigm shift. The Microfabrication Laboratory is upgrading its equipment and processes to meet the sophisticated needs for nanotech research and development. The next natural step will be a demand for research and process engineers skilled in nanotechnology manufacturing. Anticipating this and addressing it through technical education programs and on-the-job training is a smart initiative.

    Many of NSCC's nanotech courses are taught by expert engineers in the field. As part of NSCC's course, students are exposed to clean room procedures, process fundamentals and maintenance principles of fabrication and characterization equipment at WTC's Microfab Lab. The cross-functional nature of nanotechnology and the lab's ability to support multiple disciplines provide graduates with skills applicable to a diverse range of industries including aerospace, electronics, life sciences, transportation, and pharmaceuticals.

    A key goal of the NSCC program is to provide Washington businesses with access to trained workers. Through the nanotech program, employers have the opportunity to tap into this developing workforce early and hire students as interns or entry-level employees. In fact, WTC did just that and hired one of the NSCC students, Sergei Goloborodov, as an entry-level process technician in its Microfabrication Laboratory.

    Mark Helsel, of long-time Microfabrication Laboratory client Microvision, has hosted a seminar on nanotechnology for high school students during the summer. The program helps kids see a real-world connection between science and math in school and careers in emerging technology fields. Helsel has hosted similar summer seminars for high school students at WTC's facility for the past three years.

    NSCC's degree program and Helsel's summer lab seminar are complementary to the mission of the Washington Nanotechnology Initiative, a statewide program introduced by the Washington Technology Center in 2004 to assure that Washington's businesses and academic institutions are "nano-ready" and prepared to compete in an ever-evolving and highly competitive global economy. Workforce development is one of the key agendas under the Washington Nanotechnology Initiative. The WTC-NSCC partnership is an important model in showing the value of nanotech education at the K-12 and college levels, and its impact in driving talent into graduate research positions and careers in Washington's leading technology industries.

    Related external links (will open a new window):

  • Nanotechnology degree program at North Seattle Community College

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  • WTC Client Profile: Carbon Nanoprobes, Inc.

    Brian Ruby, founder and CEO of Carbon Nanoprobes, Inc., a New-York based start-up, recently traveled 3,000 miles from White Plains to Seattle. The reason for this journey: an in-person visit to the facility where he would undertake some of the most critical research needed to launch his business -- WTC's Microfabrication Laboratory.

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    An intelligent, passionate and poised 22 year-old Columbia University student and entrepreneur, Ruby is that rare combination of scientist and visionary. He's simultaneously developing novel technologies and challenging the boundaries of industry standards, while making the venture rounds to drive capital to his fledgling company.

    Carbon Nanoprobes' product is based on one of the hottest scientific revolutions in the global economy -- nanotechnology. Ruby is looking to produce carbon nano-tube tips for atomic force microscopes -- a critical tool used by research scientists for nano-scale exploration. The novel properties of carbon nanotubes make them ideal for use in a variety of industries including micro-electronics, optics, energy storage, drug delivery and advanced materials. Their strength, electrical properties, and cylindrical shape make them a compelling option for probes.

    Ruby is capitalizing on these opportunities but his company's true competitive edge lies in scalability. Currently, the industry relies on manual production to produce the probes, which realistically only yields tens of tips daily. Carbon Nanoprobes plans to manufacture a whopping 7500 tips a day -- a huge margin ahead of the competition. This mass manufacturing drives down the price point, making the tips more affordable to the end user.

    Finding the right process application to produce consistent tips at a high volume is critical. To achieve this, Ruby was looking for a research laboratory to develop and prototype the tips. As a start-up venture, Carbon Nanoprobes doesn't have the capital to build and maintain a facility with the sophisticated equipment and processes needed to undertake this full-scale fabrication.

    "It didn't make sense to try and replicate a tool set that already exists," says Ruby. "However, finding a facility with the right infrastructure can be challenging." Ruby did his research. He surveyed every known nano center in the nation. He was looking for that winning combination of core competency and cost fit. He found it in WTC's Microfabrication Laboratory.

    The lab's sophisticated tool set captured his attention. What sold him was the attentive reception he received from WTC's lab manager. "He was responsive and flexible," Ruby offers. "The lab's pricing is attractive, especially in capping costs for user fees. This is especially attractive for a company during its intense R&D; phase," he explains.

    The relationship between WTC and Carbon Nanoprobes extends beyond the basic customer-supplier exchange. The company's nano-based technology requires novel processes not readily available through existing equipment, which is geared towards fabrication for micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS). Ruby wants to help pave the way for researchers to use nanotech tools, and sees WTC as a key partner in making that happen. "MEMS makes nano possible," says Ruby. "Product development at the micro level empirically validates what can be done at the nano level." WTC believes MEMS is the springboard for nanotechnology, and WTC staff are thrilled to be working with Carbon Nanoprobes and look forward to evolving processes to meet the needs of the nano community.

    Ruby is using the Microfabrication Laboratory to develop state-of-the-art silicon probes. He'll be using his IP to enhance the functionality of the probes and lay the groundwork for the carbon nanotube tips. Nanotubes produce a superior probe. They're durable, reliable and allow for greater resolution magnitude. Their market adoption will open doors for advanced materials science research that will benefit a myriad of industries including biotech, chemical pharmaceutical, and semiconductors.

    Ruby finds a pleasing symmetry of his company's business model. His product is based on innovation and intellectual property. And by creating the tips, he's helping others in the research field to do the same -- by expanding what's possible in nano-based scientific discovery and commercialization.

    "It's like selling premier picks and shovels to miners -- you are providing them with the tools they need to excel at their craft," he says. "Carbon Nanoprobes is enabling research engineers to experiment and create on the smallest possible scale -- beyond what they've been able to achieve previously."

    Ruby says Carbon Nanoprobes is looking to have a long-term presence in the Microfab Lab. "I am impressed with WTC's commitment to supporting start-ups. The organization's mission is centered on stimulating economic growth through technology entrepreneurship. This spirit carries through to their user facility."

    Related WTC links:

  • Carbon Nanoprobes is a WTC client

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