Startup Central: University of Washington pumps out 8 new startups in 6 months

Michael Young at the Center for Commercialization. (UW Photo)

Almost one year ago, University of Washington President Michael Young made a pledge to double the number of startup companies spinning out of the state’s top research institution.

But has he kept his promise?

The answer is yes. The UW is currently on track to reach its goal nearly two years ahead of schedule, with eight new startups having debuted in the past six months.

Last February, the university celebrated the grand opening of a 23,000-square-foot startup incubator in Fluke Hall, which was built to accomodate 25 companies. Now, startups with a broad range of technological focuses — from computerized hospital whiteboards to battery-powered leak detectors — occupy the offices of the New Ventures Facility at the UW Center for Commercialization (C4C).

Several companies in particular have made their way into the public eye, and have garnered significant support and funding.

KitoTech Medical — a startup that develops technology to close wounds, lacerations and surgical incisions — released a product called KitoStitch, a more glamorous alternative to your standard stitches and staples. KitoStitch uses a biomaterial that is painless to apply, and promotes wound healing, while reducing scarring, bleeding and bacteria. The company — led by Ron Berenson, who has started a number of successful NASDAQ-listed biotech companies — said it has the potential to “capture a significant share of the $7 billion worldwide market for wound closure products.”

SNUPI (Sensor Network Utilizing Powerline Infrastructure), another UW startup, designs wireless, in-home devices that detect and alert homeowners of hazards that may be occurring around the house. Such hazards include, but are not limited to, water leaks, smoke, heat, mold, humidity, and methane. The company has received $1.5 million in venture funding from Madrona.

“This kind of entrepreneurial activity is exactly what a university like ours is designed to do and what we should be doing,” said Young in a statement released by the UW. “We have great talent, great ideas, and great untapped potential to develop products and processes that will improve people’s lives and our overall productivity. I’m thrilled that C4C is facilitating the accelerated delivery of results of our great research enterprise into people’s lives.”

Another university-generated startup, PatientStream, announced today that it received a $500,000 investment from the W Fund. Based out of Harborview Medical Center, the company created a system called ORIX, which replaces whiteboards with cloud-based information displays such as iPads, wall monitors, and desktops.

Other recent UW startups include:

  • Rosetta@Cloud: provides a molecular modeling service on Amazon Web Services
  • JointMetrix: develops medical monitoring devices to improve joint replacement process
  • Portage Bay Photonics: creates optoelectronic devices that increase the speed of communication systems
  • Marine Construction Technologies: commercializes an acoustically optimized pile driving system for building structures in sensitive aquatic environments
  • RGB Hats: markets a card game that teaches players about cyber security and hacking
Reach editorial intern Lily Katz at lily@geekwire.com or on Twitter: @LilyKatz.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jacques.white.98 Jacques White

    This is good news, not only that the University of Washington has exceeded its goals in terms of generating start-ups via the C4C program, but that the program exists in the first place. But I wonder in the big picture if this effort is too little too slow to support our region’s global competitiveness.

    My question is this, can Seattle’s natural environment and current string of business successes compete in the long run with Boston’s academic infrastructure, or the Bay area’s sheer critical mass of intellectual talent, or business friendly and sunny up and comers like Atlanta and Austin in terms remaining on the cutting edge of technology and entrepreneurship in this country? The C4C program is an attempt by the University of Washington to increase their relevance and direct contributions to the economic health and viability of region. I suggest we need far more than this, and that the state’s public higher education system, ultimately controlled as it is by a diverse, contentious and financially strapped legislature is ill equipped to provide the kind of academic leadership and training the region, our people, and the times deserve.

    For the last 120 years we have essentially had three major institutes of higher education in Seattle. It can be argued that the state has increased its academic investment in the region recently starting two new college campuses in Bothell and Tacoma, but I interpret this was a belated response to demographics and the region’s growing population, not a strategic investment in the region by offering an elite or endowed institution that can compete with the highest profile campuses in the country or the world for raw academic talent that will help foster new ideas, innovations and businesses of future HERE.

    As I reflect on the state of higher ed. compared with other parts of the country, I have thought for many years, wouldn’t it be great if Bill Gates and Paul Allen (or Jeff Bezos or Steve Balmer for that matter) left a legacy here similar to those left by the extremely wealthy of different eras in the east and mid west, by starting academic institutions that bared their names, or at least reflected their spirit? Let’s say Gates Institute of Technology in Bellevue, or Allen University of Arts and Sciences in South Seattle, where the passions of these individuals could be expressed and played out in the imaginations and actions of future generations of bright young people from the neighborhood, the region, or all over the world, and by doing so provide the human resources and spark for continued global leadership in technology, business, art, and thought. Northeastern University (from Boston) has clearly seen opportunity here and has opened a satellite campus in the South Lake Union neighborhood. Our move.