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Economic Development

Barley. Photo United States National Arboretum
Fall 2017

100% Made in Washington

In the verdant woods outside Covington, Dane Scarimbolo brews local beer.

After graduating from Washington State University’s viticulture and enology program, Scarimbolo ’10 realized a wine startup would take a lot of money and time. He enjoyed making beer, so he opened Four Horsemen Brewery in 2015 with an eye toward an older, community-minded ethos that could please the beer equivalent of a locavore.

“I was adamant about sourcing everything from Washington,” he says. In that spirit, Scarimbolo sells his craft beer at farmers markets in the region, just like farmers offer lettuce, carrots, and berries grown locally. Scarimbolo knows the beekeepers who … » More …

SafeShot device
Summer 2017

Healthy innovators

A safe and sterile needle seems to be a basic idea when preventing infections. But how that needle is sterilized, especially in places where reuse is a common practice, spurred a good idea for a pair of Washington State University student entrepreneurs.

Emily Willard and Katherine Brandenstein came up with the idea of SafeShot, a lid that sterilizes a needle each time it enters the vial of medicine, as part of an entrepreneurship class. The two students started a company, won a health business contest last spring, and headed to Tanzania early this year to research how their product could be used in a real … » More …

Winter 2016

Wood Takes Wing

The most complex chemistry lab on the planet is growing in your neighborhood. There might be a tree in your own backyard, cranking out chemicals as it converts sunlight to food, wards off pests, and circulates water and nutrients through it roots, branches, and leaves.

So diverse is the chemical compendium produced by trees that we get aspirin (willow bark is a natural source of salicylic acid and has been used to treat pain since ancient times), the ink Leonardo used in his notebooks (from leaf galls produced by wasp larvae), and natural antibacterials (the fiber in cedar chips is used to make hospital gowns).

» More …

Winter 2016

Call it the Urban Extension

The massive Oso landslide killed 43 people, caused extensive flooding, and destroyed a key highway north of Everett in 2014, pushing the communities of Arlington and Darrington to their breaking point.

For months, grieving residents and community leaders remained so immersed in the search and recovery demands that nearly everything else had to be put on hold. That’s why, when they were invited to participate in a national competition that could funnel up to $3 million or more toward desperately needed economic revitalization efforts, Arlington Mayor Barb Tolbert was practically on the verge of tears, again.

“It was this rare opportunity but we had no … » More …

Fall 2016

Upside down on the mountain

On a sunny Saturday in Leavenworth, Holly Fiske ’06 and Leah Hemberry set out to work on the mountain.

They dig through the back of Fiske’s SUV and pull out a backpack and yoga trapeze from under a paddleboard, snowboard, and other outdoor accessories. They hike up Icicle Ridge trail and, after a few switchbacks, Hemberry spots a picturesque backdrop.

Fiske drops her bag and sticks a handstand into one of the many yoga poses in her repertoire. Hemberry captures the moment with photos that Fiske will share with her more than 100,000 Instagram followers.

When Fiske née Robertson graduated from Washington State University … » More …

Asteroid mine illustration. Courtesy NASA
Summer 2016

The new frontier of asteroid mining

Meteorites can show our relationship with the solar system, but they also provide clues to the composition of asteroids both near and far. Those asteroids could be the next frontier for some space explorers.

Planetary Resources in Redmond is one of the private companies that sees potential in mining near-Earth asteroids for ice and rare metals. They plan to do it using technology we already have, inexpensively and on private rockets. CEO Chris Lewicki compares the hunt for asteroids to the American West.

“It’s like the first steam engines: not much to look at, but they helped us settle the West,” he says.

Using small … » More …

On a mission to cure the disease
Spring 2016

Leen Kawas is on a mission…

…to cure the disease that took her grandmother’s life.

A scientific discovery that could lead to treatments for Alzheimer’s and cancer drives biochemist and executive Leen Kawas. For her, it’s a personal and professional quest to develop that discovery into innovative, affordable drugs for the millions of people facing those diseases—a quest that started at seven years old, when her grandmother got cancer.

At 30, Kawas ’11 PhD is one of the youngest biotech CEOs in Seattle and, as a woman from Jordan, one of the most diverse. In her first year at the helm of M3 Biotechnology, her small but rapidly growing company, … » More …

915 Labs MATS thumbnail
Spring 2016

Successful startups from WSU

Launching startup companies like M3 is one key way that public research universities contribute to economic development. In addition to introducing a product or service to the market that solves global challenges or meets consumer needs, these companies create new jobs. Graduate students in the lab of entrepreneurial professors are also often heavily involved in startups, giving them business and leadership experience that expands their job opportunities. WSU’s Office of Commercialization works with researchers to navigate through every part of the startup process, from initially disclosing information about the invention, to securing patents, to developing a business plan and finding funding.

A sample … » More …

Bubbling cider
Winter 2015

The drink that built a nation

Bubbling a revolution in Washington State

It’s canning day at Tieton Cider Works in Yakima. Tall, red cans of Rambling Route cider pass through a pasteurizing unit as they come off the conveyor belt of the mobile canning truck. Sold in four packs, the company’s first canned product is intended to reach the masses, perhaps even enticing craft beer drinkers with a moderately-priced, portable cider.

The label on a can of Rambling Route cider describes the journey apples made across the country to Washington: “When it reached the land that would be called Washington, the apple knew.” It knew it had found a home in … » More …

Summer 2014

Machine in the classroom

New tech tools engage young scientists

In a familiar classroom scene, lab partners take turns squinting into a microscope. They spy a wriggling paramecium, if the organism doesn’t swim away from the field of view. These days they also peer into an iPad to watch videos and access digital textbooks. Engineer and entrepreneur Jeff Stewart sees a happy marriage between these old and new technologies in science classrooms.

Stewart and his colleagues at Exo Labs have enhanced that connection with an accessory that connects any microscope to an iPad, where students and teachers can take pictures and videos, measure objects, and quickly share … » More …