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

Innovation Index Reveals Steady Growth in Washington

Although technology sector employment is down slightly from previous years, Washington firms received twice the aggregate amount of venture capital (VC) funding compared to last year, and the state remains above the national average in educational attainment, according to the sixth annual Washington State Index of Innovation and Technology.

The index, produced by the Washington Technology Center (WTC), is divided into two parts - state measures and regional comparisons. State measures benchmark Washington against all 50 states, while regional comparisons look at how the technology economy is impacting 12 communities across the state.

These sections are built around 40 indicators and organized into six key areas: innovation, competitiveness, growth, financial capacity, human potential and quality of life. The index is meant to be both informative and influential. The goal is to "produce a report that serves as both a historical account of our state's performance and a tool to guide our state's leaders in economic planning," according to WTC Executive Director Lee Cheatham.

The slight decline in Washington's technology sector employment, which represents 11 percent of the state's total employment, is due to a loss of jobs within the aerospace industry, the index finds. The state lost some ground in new company creation, dropping to second place. Washington did place first for company closures, which have both positive and negative effects, according to the study. Although company closings cause distress in the workforce, they free talented people to pursue new ventures, the study states. Other key findings include:


Former University of Washington President Lee Huntsman is the first director of Washington's Life Sciences Discovery Fund.

Washington Creates $350M Life Science Fund

Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire last week signed a bill creating the Life Sciences Discovery Fund (see the Feb. 7 issue of the Digest). The fund will support life sciences research using $350 million in strategic "bonus" payments Washington will receive beginning in 2008 for its leadership role in the tobacco settlement. The state will receive the funds over a 10-year period. By leveraging funds from private and federal sources, the fund's total impact is expected to exceed $1 billion and is anticipated to drive important health care innovations, new company formation and job creation across the state.


Jack Faris is the new president of the Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association.

Washington Gov. Proposes $350M Life Science Fund

Gov. Christine Gregoire announced the first stages of her economic development program last Wednesday, highlighted by a proposal to inject $35 million annually starting in 2008 for the next 10 years into life sciences research at the state's universities. Gov. Gregoire also requested legislation be introduced this week that would facilitate the transfer of technology from research institutions to the private sector.


Kim Zentz, CEO of the Spokane Transit Authority, announced she will take a one-year position as interim executive director of the Spokane Intercollegiate Research and Technology Institute.


Patrick Tam resigned last month as executive director of the Spokane Intercollegiate Research and Technology Institute.

Seattle Tops Visa’s List of Most Innovative Cities

A Visa analysis of innovation and creativity among the nation’s top 50 metro areas has Seattle ranked first in combined scoring, followed by Austin, Nashville, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C. Visa’s Innovation Index measures entrepreneurialism, community support and creativity on a per capita basis throughout the major Metropolitan Statistical Areas. Each of the categories were scored individually.

Technology Economy Still in Washington State's Future

Washington State remains poised to capture more benefits from its technology-driven economy, according to the Index of Innovation and Technology released last month by the Washington Technology Center (WTC). As the state's lead organization to support science and technology, WTC publishes the Index to provide the state's decision makers with annual benchmarks for setting policy and  public investments to promote technology-based economic development.


Washington Gov. Gary Locke appointed Juli Wilkerson to serve as director of the Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development, replacing Martha Choe, who is now serving as state coordinator for the Boeing 7E7 project.


Ken Olsen will become the new executive director of the Palouse Economic Development Council in Washington State.

Next Digest Oct. 31; SSTI Offices Closed to Attend Annual Conference

The SSTI Weekly Digest and Funding Supplement will resume publicaton October 31 as the office will be closed to attend SSTI's 7th Annual Conference, Building Tech-based Economies: From Policies to Practice, on Oct. 20-22.