The Two Body Problem

June 14, 2010

I was at today’s City Club lunch listening to a panel on “Revolutionary Innovation.” One of the speakers was Dr. Yoky Matsuoka, an Associate Professor at the University of Washington who is literally pioneering the field of neurobotics (which is the combination of the two disciplines you think it is). She’s a true star in the scientific community, a MacArthur “Genius” Fellow and someone who moved here after a career at MIT and Harvard. So the moderator asked her what it was about Seattle that attracted her to come out here. Her answer? The region helped her solve the “two body problem.” Read the rest of this entry »

Philanthropy in Economic Development

June 7, 2010

You may have seen the article in today’s Seattle Times about how the Iacocca Family Foundation (yes, that Iacocca) is investing in a local biotech company. The human interest hook is that Lee Iacocca’s first wife, Mary, died from diabetes, and so the former Chrysler chairman is investing in potential therapies that can cure the disease. But the economic development hook is much more intriguing. Read the rest of this entry »

I Want To Be Close To You

April 30, 2010

In the online, globalized world, geography doesn’t matter anymore, because we can email/conference call/GoToMeeting/virtual/3D/sync/nonsenseword/etc. Except that it totally does. For example, this new Innovation Center going right next to PNNL in Richland, WA. Why do they need to be right next to the Pacific Northwest National Lab? Is the IP coming out of there too heavy to move very far? Or is it, as others are arguing, that geography is a really important aspect to technology commercialization: Read the rest of this entry »

The Korean Success Story

April 18, 2010

Sam Anderson of the Master Builders 'listens' to a phone call through resonance

The 2010 International Study Mission, produced by the Greater Seattle Chamber and the Trade Development Alliance, is to Daejeon and Seoul, South Korea this week. I think we sometimes forget what a success story Korea is, but the country’s accomplishments are impressive. Read the rest of this entry »

The Recovery Act as Baby Boom

March 3, 2010

Good public policy is all about planning ahead. It’s like that old Wayne Gretsky quote about being where the puck is going to be (and no, I’m not talking hockey because I’m on the post-Olympics NHL bandwagon…although, go Flyers!). One of the biggest public policy challenges that our country is facing is what do we do about all these baby boomers, who are going to increasingly put a strain on things like Social Security & Medicare, on our healthcare system and on our workforce needs. (Nothing personal, boomers.)

On the economic development side of things, I think that there is going to be a similar challenge/opportunity with Recovery Act investments in R&D. Read the rest of this entry »

Get Your Game On

January 13, 2010

It’s winter, it’s raining, it’s dark. Playing outside is still a feasible option, but if you prefer to stay warm and dry, then why not choose entertainment that supports one of the region’s fastest growing niche industries: electronic games. If you want to sound more professional, say you’re supporting the “interactive media” industry, which is the same, but refers more inclusively to aerospace and medical applications also being developed in this region, referred to as “serious games” (not that your own Xbox efforts aren’t serious). Read the rest of this entry »

Manufacturing in the Central Puget Sound

January 12, 2010

Last week, the Obama Administration announced another big expenditure from the Recovery Act – $2.3 billion in clean technology manufacturing tax credits to not only create jobs but actually spur investment in mass producing clean tech products. How much of that manufacturing will be done here? $0.00.

In fact, the only Washington company that got any money was our good friends at Ramgen, but it was to produce their exciting new carbon capture technology in upstate New York. When you see that, it recalls the conventional wisdom you always hear about our business climate being bad for manufacturing. But is that true? Read the rest of this entry »