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Michael Young at the Center for Commercialization. UW photo

Are startups in the DNA of the University of Washington?

If not right now, they will be once President Michael Young finished his work. Young, who took the helm of the state’s largest research university in July 2011 after a successful run at the University of Utah, has pledged to double the number of startups coming out of the UW.

It was a bold statement by Young. But alongside trusted lieutenants such as vice provost Linden Rhoads, Young is making it happen, opening a 23,000 square foot incubator in Fluke Hall in February that will have space for 25 startups.

“This is much more than a building for us,” Young said at the time. “This is a flag raising exercise. This is an opportunity for us to say that this is an important part of what we do.”

We’ll recognize the Newsmakers of the Year at the GeekWire Gala, Dec. 6 at McCaw Hall in Seattle. Details and Tickets Here.

Startups do matter at the UW, and we’ve seen some very accomplished entrepreneurs (most recently mobile veteran David Bluhm and software guru Jeremy Jaech) get more engaged with the University. There’s also money flowing, in part through the formation  of the $20 million W Fund, a public-private partnership which is targeting university spinouts.

A lot of the puzzle pieces were already in place by the time Young arrived, but he added a bigger spark, touting at nearly every turn the importance of moving research out of the labs and into folk’s homes or businesses. For that alone, we’re excited to name Michael Young to the GeekWire list of Newsmakers of the Year.

We’re spotlighting all of our 2012 Newsmakers on GeekWire this month, leading up to the GeekWire Gala on Dec. 6 at McCaw Hall in Seattle. Many of the newsmakers from the list will be joining us and the rest of the tech community on that night to mark a remarkable year of news. Tickets available here.

See all of our 2012 Newsmakers profiles here.

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