What can you learn from Seattle startups and their public-private partnerships?

Jonathan Sposato of GeekWire.com will moderate a panel on Small Business Innovators: The Public/Private Relationship, at the Office of Advocacy’s September 19 conference in Seattle in conjunction with the “Next Fifty” commemoration of the 1962 World’s Fair. (See the Small Business Watchdog, Aug. 10). Panelists from the private, public, and academic sectors will offer a taste of Seattle’s dynamic startup scene and how it is supported by government and university initiatives:

  • Dr. Grace Wang director of the National Science Foundation’s Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (IIP) helps support innovative entrepreneurs through the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs, Industry University Cooperative Research Centers, Grant Opportunities for Academic Liaison with Industry, and Partnerships for Innovation.
  • Linden Rhoads, vice provost of the University of Washington (UW) Center for Commercialization (C4C) helps entrepreneurial UW researchers protect their innovations, fund commercialization, introduce their research to industry, assess innovation opportunities, and start businesses based on their research.

  • Chris Bajuk had been using hydroponics to grow everything from beans to zucchini in buckets on his back deck. UrbanHarvest, the firm he started with his classmate Chris Sheppard, combined his green thumb with an eye for urban, underutilized, “ultralocal” space on city rooftops.
  • urban_harvest
  • As a Ph.D. student in engineering at MIT, Dr. Matthew Silver found a way to use less energy in the wastewater treatment process. ExoGen, a lead product for Cambrian Innovation, which he founded in 2006, offsets the energy used to treat wastewater through a process that creates significant energy.
  • “That’s crazy—no one will ever play games on phones!” That was one of many myths dispelled by PopCap Games, according to its CEO, David Roberts. And did you know the number one customer of “casual gaming” is women over 50? Markets seldom evolve as you think they will, says Roberts.
  • While focused on his work, Zaarly founder Eric Koester kept getting tickets on his car parked a couple blocks away. “Wouldn’t it be great if I could get someone else to run out and put some money in the meter?” he thought—and a new startup was born. Zaarly will help you find anything, from a local caterer to a used couch.
  • Brian Glaister had a passion for developing robotic prosthetic limbs—and a frustration that his work might never see the light of day. In 2007, he co-founded Cadence Biomedical. Its “Kickstart” product uses a tuning system of springs and cams to capture energy wasted at the beginning of a step and return it at the end.


For more information, photos and bios for all of the day’s dynamic panels, and to register for the Advocacy event, visit Small Business and Government: Maximizing Entrepreneurship, Driving Innovation.

Kathryn Tobias, Senior Editor

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