Monday, April 30, 2007

Will Ubiquitous Wireless Eliminate the Gas Tax?

While we typically think of the ways that ubiquitous wireless technology can liberate our lives, there are other options. Recently, cash-strapped governments have been researching ways to eliminate the gas tax, funding transportation improvements and maintenance projects via a "pay per mile" system based upon wireless technology.

The link above jumps to On RAMP, the sister blog for Tacoma Tech Connect that highlights transportation issues for the Regional Access Mobility Partnership (RAMP).

Friday, April 27, 2007

WSA Investment Forum May 2nd

Next Wednesday, May 2nd the WSA is holding its 14th Annual 2007 Investor Forum. Held at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center down on the Seattle waterfront at Pier 66, the event allows for up to 18 new, fast-growing, and promising technology companies in the Northwest to connect with key venture capitalists and technology buyers. The first category of presenter is classified as a funding pitch the second as a sales pitch.

This year there looks to be one representative from the South Sound in the form of Gig Harbor company Perlego Systems Inc. Described in the program "Perlego provides hosted, on-demand Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions allowing for the deployment, management, backup and restoration of mobile devices for the entire mobile value chain." Perlego will be participating in the second category of presentation from 2:00 to 3:30 in the Marina Room.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Honor Tech Innovation

Know an innovator for technology that deserves the nation's highest honor in the field?

The U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez is encouraging nominations. Focus is directed to high-impact contributions which colleagues, mentors, or associates have made in such areas as:
  1. Technology Manpower/Workforce Training/Education
  2. Technology Management and Policy
  3. Technology Product and Process
  4. Environmental Technology

The deadline for submitting 2007 nominations is May 31, 2007, 5:00 p.m. EST. Nomination forms and guidelines may be downloaded from the National Medal of Technology website and submitted by , fax or post as listed on the form.

Cyber Defense Exercise

The "2007 Cyber Defense Exercise" will be conducted this Saturday, April 28th, at Fort Lewis. Sponsored jointly by West Point, Fort Lewis and the University of Washington, Tacoma, the day long event will be bringing in students from multiple locations where they will be lead by Lt. Colonel Ron Dodge from USMA West Point through a series of cyber attack/defense exercises. This will also allow the students to familiarize themselves with and use VMWare and forensics tools.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Washington Tech Industry Adds 4,500 Jobs

Washington's high-tech industry added 4,500 jobs for a total of 156,500 in 2005 (the most current state data available), according to a new report released by AeA. The report also reveals that, in 2006, venture capital investments in the state rose by 24 percent to more than $1 billion, the fifth-highest in the country.

Washington's largest and fastest-growing industry sector remains software publishers, which grew by 2,100 net jobs in 2005 for a total of 41,100 jobs. The state ranks second in the country in this sector, behind only California. Other sectors that experienced significant growth in 2005 included Internet services, engineering services, and computer systems design and related services.

Across the nation, the report shows that the high-tech industry is picking up. Industry employment was up by 146,600 out of 5.8 million workers in 2006, the second year in a row that the U.S. tech industry has added jobs.

The report, titled "Cyberstates 2007: A Complete State-by-State Overview of the High-Technology Industry," covers all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Technology Companies List

Anyone working in computing and technology, as well as those looking to move or open an office here in the South Sound, would have the question: "Where are the technology people and companies and what do they do?". It’s important to know how fertile the area is for collaboration, human resource and funding among other things. Joining the Tacoma Technology Consortium is a start, but what about a straight out list?

There are a few resources to look for the information. You can check with the WSA, the largest technology trade organization in the state, and look for headquarter addresses. You can Google “Tacoma Technology Companies” and get some idea. Networking at Tacoma technology events helps. There are also two other resources available that attempt to give a resource index of the companies here and what they do. The staff from the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber that support the Tacoma Technology Consortium have compiled a census of local firms on a periodic basis, from which they can post a public list (the updated 2007 list is now under construction). So does Jamie at Thrice All American.

Because Jamie cares a lot about what a healthy technology sector looks like in the South Sound, he keeps an ongoing list of companies and organizations he is aware of on his web site as part of its charter. He also works at one. What is good about his approach is that it allows for the extended arm of the online community to keep the list as up to date and complete as possible. How complete is it? I don’t know, but it is a good start. Take a look yourself and see what is there, what should be added and what should be deleted.

Like any growing and vibrant industry, additions and subtractions have to be made. I would like to see a category for both start ups and branch offices set up. I also would like to know if a company merges, does it stay in the same location as a Tacoma branch, or move its folks away?

Friday, April 20, 2007

Information Security Weaknesses, Says GAO

A new report has been issued by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) examining federal agencies security. Since our area has professed an expertise in cybersecurity and information assurance, a look at the state of federal preparedness is warranted.

The full report: Persistent Weaknesses Highlight Need for Further Improvement, cites 21 of 24 agencies as having significant weaknesses in information security controls. The reason - agencies have not yet fully implemented agencywide security programs.

The Congress passed the Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 (FISMA) which permanently authorized the security program, evaluation and reporting requirements. In the report, GAO discusses the continued weaknesses and efforts by Homeland Security (DHS) to develop a cyberthreat analysis and warning capability.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Hear "Leveraging Technology in the Department of Defense"

As we reported last month, Congressman Adam Smith offered keynote observations on "Leveraging Technology in the Department of Defense" at the Washington Technology Summit last Thursday in Bellevue.

Those who missed the event can catch the video via TVW in a segment that also offers introductory remarks and a welcome from Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire.

Last Friday, contributor Andrew Fry posted about the alternative energy session that most impressed him. Expect a post in the near future about the Angel Capital Association gathering that kept me occupied most of the day.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

"Fuzzy Logic" at the Institute of Technology

One of the great thrills of being part of a University come with the many opportunities to hear from brilliant individuals who have had an impact on the world. You can recruit them, hire them or catch them at a conference, and sometimes they come to your doorstep.

April 25th, Dr. Lotfi Zadeh will be coming to the UWT to give a presentation. Dr Zadeh is known as the father of fuzzy logic, a theory he pioneered in the 1960's. As stated in the press release, "Fuzzy Logic attempts to mirror the pervasive imprecision of the real world by providing a model for human reasoning in which everything - including truth - is a matter of degrees".

At its introduction, the idea was scoffed at. Today it is in our cars, refrigerators, cameras, appliances and even our every day lexicon. Patents for fuzzy logic application are in the thousands.

Currently, he is speaking to how fuzzy logic and natural language can be applied in the computational process. Pretty cool.

Monday, April 16, 2007

U.S. Magazines Leave Print for Web

Growing numbers of U.S. magazines are ending their print editions in favor of online publication, which saves money and is increasingly becoming advertisers' venue of choice, according to information released last week.

According to Outsell, Inc., magazines' online revenue growth rates are sometimes "in the 20 to 30 percent range and certain titles are in the 40 to 50 percent range"; by contrast, print editions report "flat or negative 5 percent" ad revenues.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Vikings Are Coming!

The World Economic Forum has released its latest Global Information Technology Report focusing on Information Communications Technology (ICT).

For us with our Asian orientation, it is surprising to see the Nordic Countries (Denmark #1, Sweden #2, Finland #4, Switzerland #5 and the Netherlands #6, Iceland #8, UK #8 and Norway #10) leading the rankings. Okay, I threw Switzerland in there just to make a longer list but all the others owe a significant part of their heritage to the Vikings.

The sole Top 10 Asian placement was Singapore #3. And, the U.S. found itself #7 after having ranked as #1 in the 2005 ranking.

Why all this? Authors in video available on the website speak to these issues. Soumitra Dutta, Dean, External Relations, Insead, cites the U.S.’s complex regulatory environment and its lag in technology adoption in business firms.

So, where are the powerhouses we fear? India ranked 44th down 4 positions from 2005 of the 122 (Chad) countries and China was nine positions down to 59th place. The authors cite India’s weak infrastructure and a very low level of individual usage of personal computers and the internet. Remember those campus operations and poor utility service that Thomas Friedman tells of in his book The World Is Flat?

For China, the lagging technology uptake in Chinese firms is only partially offset by growing patents and tech transfer adoptions. The Chinese beginnings in global marketing concentrated in technology products is only two years old. And it suffers as a place for low-cost assembly by foreign-owned companies.

Wave and Tidal Power

I attended the Washington State Technology Summit yesterday which is put on by the Washington Technology Center. I have been to several of these summits, last year held on the Microsoft campus and this year at Bellevue's Meydenbauer Center. I would love to see one here at the Tacoma Convention Center but I digress.

Of the many impressions I was left with, I wanted to share one immediately. There is a major wave of alternative energy approaching, and I am nearly being literal. I sat in on the breakout session "Wave of the Future: Energy and Tides" and found the enthusiasm and interest startling. Two years ago, forums on alternative energy were also filled with energy products of the future: wind, solar, biofuel, hydrogen cells and tidal. But they were not always filled with large numbers of people in attendance or stories of economic feasibility. I am generalizing from my personal experiences so feel free to provide your own. At this conference, both sessions on alternative energy were packed to overflowing.

Locally, our former superintendent of Tacoma Power now General Manager of The Snohomish County Public Utility District, Steve Klein, was there. As was Chris Campbell, National Director, Ocean Renewable Energy Group, Jeff Morris of the WTC and Alla Weinstein, director of Finavera Renewables (merged with AquaEnergy) and General Manager of FVR Ocean Energy.

Alla stated that the funding for alternative and wave energy, in particular venture funding, was happening outside the United States. Europe was prominent in her examples, so much so that even though she is from the US, in 2005 Alla became the first President of the European Ocean Energy Association. So why was a business person operating outside of where the funding was? She and her company are here because the Pacific Northwest is where the resources are located. From Northern California to British Columbia there is a huge potential for non-intrusive Megawatt production.

And though the venture funding may be lagging, the governmental investment in alternative energy in the NW and the Puget Sound is huge. I am looking for information supporting a work force need for Energy Systems Engineers and was provided a staggering number of dollars being allocated for future projects. I will refrain from remembering the figure incorrectly and will post the number after confirmation, but I was impressed.

Even with the regulations and permitting process, (that help protect our resources), we are poised to be a world center for alternative energy.

So how about Tacoma?

In 2005 the Tacoma Narrows was part of a $350,000 EPRI project to evaluate tidal power feasibility and technology. Five months ago The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)'s Tidal Energy Permits page listed 38 pending applications for projects in Alaska, Maine, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, and Washington. FERC has also issued preliminary permit for a tidal project in the Tacoma Narrows of Washington's Puget Sound. In addition, a wave energy project was proposed for Makah Bay in Washington.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Small Businesses Find That the Internet is Vital

The most recent survey from the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index reveals that two-thirds of all small business owners are convinced that the Internet is vital to their success.

As part of the survey, entrepreneurs were also asked how their businesses would be impacted if they were faced with a loss of Internet access. Thirty-five percent said it would have a major impact on their businesses, including 18 percent who said it would force them to shut their doors.

Larger-sized small businesses--with revenues of $2 million or more--report more frequent use of the Internet for business purposes than smaller-sized businesses. Nearly 90 percent of these ventures say they use the Internet three or more times a week, with most using the Internet daily. Comparatively, 67 percent of smaller-sized business owners use the Internet three or more times a week, including 57 percent who claim daily Internet use.

Small business owners use the Internet for various business purposes, ranging from obtaining information to managing their business and personal finances. Seventy-five percent of small business owners regularly gather information as well as business and industry advice online. Other primary uses include online banking, social networking to make professional contacts, advertising and marketing and payroll management.

Small business owners continue to increase their online presence by operating company websites. Forty-four percent report having their own websites, which are used for a variety of business functions ranging from advertising to payment transactions. The top three uses of company websites include advertising company products and services, soliciting customer feedback or queries, and communicating with customers, suppliers and employees. A smaller percentage of small business owners use their company websites to take reservations or orders and accept payment for products and services.

When asked what new technologies they are currently using or plan to purchase for their company in 2007, small business owners pointed to Wi-Fi technologies, global positioning systems and hand-held scanners used for inventory control.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Creating Community Through Blogging Symposium

A symposium titled "Experiencing Communities: Bloggers' Perspectives" will be held April 28th at the Seattle Central Library. At this event bloggers from the Seattle area will discuss their experiences so that the group, to quote their flyer, "can learn from their successes, setbacks, and aspirations and discover new strategies for forging university-community collaboration through blogging".

It already sounds fascinating, but when you add into the mix that Derek Young, our resident blogger behind Exit133, is going to be there and presenting, well that just about makes it a must. Derek will be a panelist for "Blogging and Place" along with Justin Carder, a blogger from the Capital Hill neighborhood.

The symposium is the culminating event of Creating Community Through Blogging, a cross-disciplinary research cluster sponsored by the Simpson Center for the Humanities.

Emerald City--Game On!

The Alliance of Angels spring forum will be held at RealNetworks’ Seattle headquarters on Tuesday, May 8th.

“Emerald City-Game On!” will assemble experts from the gaming industry, venture capital and angel investor communities to discuss how entrepreneurs and investors can build successful businesses in the ecosystem of casual, online and mobile games. The panel lineup includes Garrett Link of GM Gamehouse Studios, Cameron Myhrvold of Ignition Partners, Derrick Morton of Flowplay, and Phil Yerkes of Movaya.

The program will run from 2:30-5:00 p.m., immediately followed by a networking reception. Tickets are $35 for AoA members, and $50 for non-members.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Funding Technology in the South Sound

One of the mandates for the Tacoma Technology Consortium has always been to "facilitate development of capital resources to support growth of emerging local firms". That mandate has recently been fulfilled with the formation and successful launch of the South Sound's first equity investor organization.

Established last June, the TacomaAngel Network (TAN) is a non-profit alliance of accredited investors, all of whom are successful entrepreneurs, retired executives, and other business leaders who provide investment capital, strategic advice and mentoring to early-stage companies or companies embarking on major expansion efforts to help them achieve market leadership.

We helped organize TAN in order to make better connections between emerging companies and local investors. In less than one year's time, TAN has grown from 10 to 32 angel investors and is responsible for more than $2 million in funding for Northwest enterprises--and TAN offers new investment opportunities to its stable of angels nearly every month.

Angel investors are private individuals with a good deal of business experience, postgraduate education, and a high net worth. An angel can assist an emerging company with financial support but also with managerial advice and access to key contacts.

In general, angel investors:

  • Seek companies with high growth potential, proven management and financial transparency;
  • Expect returns 10-15% above Standard & Poors return on equity;
  • Invest between $50,000 and $1,000,000 in a given opportunity;
  • Prefer to finance manufacturing or product-oriented ventures, especially in the high tech field.