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Linden Rhoads

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee earlier this week laid out an economic plan for Washington state that included ideas on how to spark more spin-off companies from research universities.

As it happens, there’s already a strong movement afoot to make that idea a reality. The University of Washington today plans to host an open house for its New Ventures Facility, a startup incubator which is designed to hatch dozens of new startup companies with university inventions.

Attending the event today will be UW President Michael K. Young; UW vice provost for commercialization Linden Rhoads; and Washington Department of Commerce director Rogers Weed.

In a media alert, the UW said that it plans to announce “an ambitious goal for its entrepreneurship activities.”

We’ll be on hand to cover that announcement, so stay tuned for more details.

Under the guidance of Rhoads, the UW has been transforming its commercialization efforts. In December, the UW announced the formation of a new venture capital fund, known as the W Fund.

The fund includes the support from Seattle area venture capitalists and entrepreneurs such as Madrona Venture Group’s Greg Gottesman and Tom Alberg; OVP Venture Partners’ Chad Waite and Lucinda Stewart; former Microsoft vice presidents Brian Arbogast and Will Poole; Arch Venture Partners’ Steve Gillis; biotechnology entrepreneur Bruce Montgomery; and others.

“This is a large group of stakeholders who are trying to lift the tide for everyone,” Rhoads said at the time.

The W Fund plans to invest $250,000 to $500,000 in about 25 to 30 early-stage companies over the next five years, focusing efforts on upstarts that have strong ties to research universities in the state.

Newly-appointed UW president Michael Young has an intense interest in commercialization efforts, leading a strong program while at the helm of the University of Utah.

The laboratory and office space for the new incubator will be located in Fluke Hall, and will be operated by the UW Center for Commercialization.

Previously on GeekWire: How Utah tops Washington: A university that spins out more startups with fewer dollars

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