UW Launches Technology Start-up Incubator, aims to double start-ups over three years

Fluke Hall Exterior

Exterior of UW C4C's New Ventures Facility

The University of Washington today unveiled a new business incubator that will provide startup businesses access to critical lab and office space on the UW campus for their work.

The incubator is one key element in a larger commercialization initiative announced by President Michael Young today that will double the number of startups produced by the UW – from an average of 10 a year to 20 – during the next three years.

The UW Center for Commercialization New Ventures Facility, opened today, showcases the UW’s commitment to spinning out an increasing number of companies built around UW research. The incubator will be led by the UW Center for Commercialization New Ventures program and is located in UW’s Fluke Hall.

The space will initially host 15 companies and when finished will have space for 25 startups, providing 11,500 square feet of lab space and 11,500 square feet of office space.

Photos from the C4C New Ventures Facility opening:

Among the first UW startup companies occupying the space will be:

  • Nexgenia – A company using polymer-based nanotechnology that improves the speed and sensitivity of clinical laboratory tests for the diagnosis of infectious diseases, cancer and metabolic disorders.
  • Envitrum – A startup with a process that converts low-value waste glass into versatile green building materials.
  • VIxim – A company developing scalable simulation software for cloud environments including SimX for computation-based encryption and WaveSearch for accelerated graph diffusion.

“The opening of this new incubator signals our commitment to strengthening entrepreneurship at the UW,” said Young. “We’ve been providing the mentorship and are now going the next step in providing the space for faculty and students to work alongside highly successful and experienced Washington entrepreneurs on UW spin-outs.”

The UW has fostered university-based innovations to help create more than 260 companies in Washington state. Young hopes to strengthen that position in the future with a renewed focus on fostering the entrepreneurial spirit.

“We all want to see National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health research result in tremendous new therapies and treatments,” said Young. “The reality is that commercialization is a major undertaking that requires space, capital, expertise and passion. We want UW to be the best place in the world to do research. We want researchers doing the important work in key translational areas to choose to come to UW and stay here.”

The UW is dedicated to maximizing its contribution to the Washington state economy by spinning out innovations in life sciences, clean technology, alternative energy and information technology. The UW incubator will help increase the quantity and quality of Washington technology companies by priming some of the most promising UW early-stage startups for outside investment and success.

“An on-campus facility is just critical,” said Linden Rhoads, UW vice provost for commercialization. “Housed here, a startup’s product development team has a much better chance of interacting with the UW faculty and graduate students who originally conceived the core technology or concept. In addition, a major goal is lowering the overall cost of product development by leveraging university expertise and infrastructure.”

UW technology startups are a major driver for the state’s economy. These startups have the potential for high growth. They create jobs and offer careers to Washington citizens. Moreover, they pay state taxes, attract outside investment, increase exports and spawn even more entrepreneurial activity both inside and outside the university.
Companies that occupy the New Ventures Facility are spin-outs that the Center for Commercialization deems as having significant commercial promise. Often, they are the incorporation of projects that have worked closely with the center for several years, following a program-based process that culminates in producing spin-outs.

“You can’t overestimate the value of the synergy that comes from working alongside other entrepreneurial teams, even just operationally,” said Thomas Schulte, president of UW startup Nexgenia. “A company may be developing an entirely different kind of product, but it still has to figure out how to market the product, who to retain for intellectual property counsel, how to attract outside funding. Having Internet access, standard office equipment and meeting space all included, saves us money and a lot of distractions from advancing our new venture.”

The new incubator joins the ranks of technology startup incubators at peer research institutions including those at the MIT, University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin, Georgia Tech, UC San Diego and University of Utah.

About the University of Washington Center for Commercialization

UW researchers in hundreds of labs are making extraordinary innovations. As one of the leading recipients of federal funding for research, UW is producing innovations that have the power to change the world—from biofuel alternatives, to more effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and brain cancer, to purification technology for drinking water in the developing world. The Center for Commercialization (C4C) is committed to getting these research outcomes into products, services, therapies, diagnostics, and cures to where they can impact millions of people. Since its founding, C4C has helped create more than 260 companies in Washington state and abroad.