SSTI Digest

The latest reporting and analysis on breakthroughs in technology-based economic development research and issues that matter most to you. To receive the SSTI Weekly Digest via email, sign up here.

Geography: Washington

People & TBED Organizations

President Bush announced he will nominate Assistant Secretary of Commerce Sandy Baruah to serve as the administrator of the Small Business Administration.

People & TBED Organizations

Lori Broyles was appointed coordinator of the Women's Business Center in Oklahoma City.

Recent Research: Measuring the Effectiveness of State R&D Tax Credits

Two weeks ago, Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter vetoed legislation to repeal state R&D income tax credits for Idaho companies. Among his reasons for the veto, Gov. Otter claimed removing the credits would put Idaho at a competitive disadvantage because surrounding states over similar incentives. Was he right?

People & TBED Organizations

Egils Milbergs was appointed director of Washington's newly formed Economic Development Commission.

Five Zones Share $4.3M to Promote and Develop Regional Economies in Washington

Washington State is attempting to replicate the success of North Carolina’s Research Triangle in promoting regionalism and industry clusters through a new Innovation Partnership Zones initiative.


Gov. Christine Gregoire announced last week the designation of 11 Innovation Partnership Zones throughout the state -- five of which were also awarded state grants totaling $4.3 million allocated in the fiscal year 2007-09 capital budget (see the April 30, 2007 issue of the Digest).


To qualify for the designation, applicants must bring research, workforce training and a globally competitive company together in close geographic proximity for a cooperative, research-based effort that will lead to new commercially viable products and jobs, according to the governor’s press office. The idea is to form industry clusters around universities and research parks, utilizing resources from higher education institutions to grow companies in emerging fields. The five applicants awarded grants include:

Private Funding Gives Washington Life Sciences Discovery Fund Early Boost

With the first round of state funding not expected until April 2008, private foundations have stepped in to provide a jumpstart for the Life Sciences Discovery Fund (LSDF). Last week, six Washington-based research teams were awarded more than $4.5 million in private funding to support projects that improve health care quality and capitalize on economic development opportunities within the state.


Created in 2005, LSDF is a state agency that operates like a foundation, authorized to use $350 million in tobacco settlement funds over a 10-year period to support life science research (see the May 16, 2005 issue of the Digest). When leveraged with federal sources and private investment, the fund’s total impact is expected to exceed $1 billion.


Selected projects for the first round of funding will focus on innovative applications of technology to improve effectiveness of surgical procedures, to improve management for all patients, and to better diagnose and treat certain diseases. Major contributors include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Microsoft, Amgen, Safeco, and Regence BlueShield.


A press release is available at:

People & TBED Organizations

Graham Evans has joined Washington Technology Center as director of research and program operations.

TBED People

John Gardner will be vice president for economic development and extension at Washington State University, effective July 1. Gardner has been the vice president for research and economic development at the University of Missouri system.


Anna Ehnmark was appointed executive director of the Technology Alliance Group for Northwest Washington.


Tiffany McVeety stepped down from her post as director of the Northwest Women's Business Center to become a business banker for Shoreline Bank. Rebecca Villareal replaces McVeety.


WSA (formerly the Washington Software Alliance) announced that Kathy Wilcox will step down as the organization's president and CEO at the end of 2006. Wilcox intends to work with for-profit and nonprofit businesses as an advisor on operations, business development, board structuring and fundraising.

EDA Seeds $3M Growth Fund in Washington

A $1.46 million grant from the Economic Development Administration to the Sirti Foundation is making possible a $3 million loan fund to technology companies within a 10-county region of Eastern Washington. The program provides another example of the non-traditional use of EDA funds to support tech-based economic development strategies. In addition, the deal structure may serve as a model to help other public agencies encourage TBED activities typically outside the scope or possibility of many public entities.

The Sirti Technology Growth Fund is designed to accelerate technology companies in a number of market sectors, including bio-products/health sciences, energy and the environment, value-added agriculture, and defense/homeland security that do not qualify for conventional bank financing. Sirti, an economic development agency of Washington State, identified a gap in funding sources for start-up, emerging and expanding technology-based companies in the Inland Northwest. Such companies typically have a marketable product but require financial and other resources to successfully "go the distance." Help with launching the company, products or services into new markets or to acquire the inventory necessary to fulfill an order can make the difference for long-term success.

The Sirti Foundation, a separate tax-exempt entity from Sirti, received the EDA grant in 2004. The EDA grant required dollar-for-dollar match funding which the Sirti Foundation secured by teaming with the Business Development Corporation of Eastern Washington (BDC), an investment consortium of community and regional banks and businesses. Member bank investors include AmericanWest Bank, Banner Bank, Bank of Fairfield, F&M Bank, FirstBank Northwest, 1 Inland Northwest Bank, The State National Bank of Garfield, Washington Trust Bank, Wheatland Bank and the Bank of Whitman. Development of the administrative plan for the Sirti Technology Growth Fund was made possible by a grant from Spokane Teachers Credit Union. Administrative services for the Sirti Technology Growth Fund will be provided by the BDC.

The Sirti Foundation is funded privately through grants and contributions to help support Sirti. In particular, the foundation pursues funding for special projects that help deliver results under Sirti's mission. The Sirti Foundation has six outside board members representing executive leadership from various industries and three board members from the Sirti Board.

The Sirti Foundation Board has contracted with the Business Development Corporation of Eastern Washington, an industrial development corporation, to officially administer the loan fund with ongoing support from the Sirti Foundation Board and Sirti staff members. The loans granted to qualified applicants will be co-owned by the Sirti Foundation and the BDC. Typical loan amounts are expected to range from $50,000 to $350,000 and have terms tailored to the unique business and industry environment.

More information is available at