Thursday, May 31, 2007

The State of Technology Luncheon

Gary Bracket and I will be heading up to the Technology Alliance’s largest annual event, The State of Technology Luncheon. This is the organizations premier event for Washington’s technology community, an event which brings more than 1,000 leaders from business, government, academic institutions and the community from across the state together. The stated goal of the event is to “celebrate Washington's progress in building a vibrant technology-based economy and to gain insights from the visionary leaders of our most innovative companies and institutions making an impact on the world through exciting advances in science and technology.”

Last years Keynote conversation was with Jeff Bezos of interviewed by TA board member Ed Lazowska, the Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science at the University of Washington. This year features Steve Ballmer, Chief Executive Officer of Microsoft interviewed by Ed Lazowska as well. I mention Ed because he has been such a supporter of technology and education not only in Seattle and the state of Washington, but here in the South Sound as well. He is one of the founding members of the Institute of Technologies advisory board and an active member today.

Gary Brackett and I will be representing the Tacoma Technology Alliance, which is an affiliate organization of the TA. I will bring my pad and pencil and jot down how many times the South Sound and Tacoma is mentioned.

Friday, May 11, 2007

8th Annual South Sound Tech Conference

Save the date of December 7th, 2007 for the 8th Annual South Sound Technology Conference.

Since 2000, the conference has been a major technology event in Tacoma-Pierce County. SST has helped to spawn economic growth, foster collaboration and disseminate knowledge of global issues to businesses, government and educational institutions throughout the Puget Sound metropolitan area.

The technology sector and implosion in the early 2000’s created a difficult few years for the industry. This technology conference has been a survivor throughout the leaner years and even helped support the rebounding technology industry. It continues to generate interest in technology from virtually every industry and has developed a strong reputation by offering national-level speakers to a regional audience.

Much credit goes to Congressman Adam Smith’s office for being host to the conference as a public event over the last two years. With his support and that of past honorary co-chair Cong. Norm Dicks, speakers of prominence such as last years keynote Dr. Lee Huntsman, Executive Director of the Life Sciences Discovery Fund Authority and President Emeritus of the University of Washington, have presented to technology professionals, higher education and business leaders, elected officials, and others that are working to support technology economic development.

This year it is back in the hands of a dedicated volunteer committee led by co-chairs Andrea Olsen, Vice President for Economic Development at Clover Park Technical College and James Matteucci. Not all the committees are staffed and there is work to do before the December event, so if you would like to join a team consisting of leaders from the business and civic sectors seeking major sponsorships, time, skills and service please contact Andrea or James.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

GAO Critiques HSIN

The Government Accountability Office has just released a report on the effectiveness of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)'s Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN).

DHS is responsible for coordinating homeland security communications with all levels of government, the private sector and the public. DHS's web-based application (HSIN) operates at least 11 networks.

The GAO found HSIN did not work effectively for two key Regional Information Sharing Systems, of which it was asked to testify. The Regional Information Sharing Systems is a nationwide information-sharing program operated by state and local officials. It provides services to law enforcement, emergency responders and other public safety officials.

GAO said the department rushed to deploy HSIN after the September 11, 2001 attacks. In doing so, it limited coordination and risks effective information sharing and duplicating state and local capabilities. DHS has agreed to implement two improvements: 1) improve coordination and 2) ensure similar coordination and duplication issues do not arise in its other networks.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Gregoire Ratifies Creation of Innovation Partnership Zones

Governor Chris Gregoire recently ratified legislation creating innovation partnership zones. These zones will link globally competitive companies and research institutions with new products, skills training and local reinvestments to drive local and regional economies.

“Washington will continue to compete, and succeed, in the global economy if we build regional resources that support regional economies. These focused business and academic clusters are a key part of my Next Washington business plan and bring the promise of innovation and jobs for specific regions and for the state economy as a whole,” said Governor Gregoire.

The fiscal year 2007-09 capital budget includes $5 million for the zones. The $5 million allocation will fund five grants over the next two years to help pay for buildings and infrastructure. In addition, the capital budget includes $58 million for Washington State University to complete the Pullman Life Sciences Building and $5 million for broadband infrastructure in rural parts of the state.

The 2007 legislative session ended last month with the approval of the first installment of $70 million over the 2007-09 biennium for the Life Sciences Discovery Fund . Created in 2005, the fund provides grants for promising life science university research within the state. The bill allocates $35 million per year from strategic tobacco settlements for 10 years beginning in 2008.
The fund's total impact is expected to exceed $1 billion by leveraging funds from private and federal sources. It is anticipated to drive important health care innovations, new company formation and job creation across the state.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Tacoma Angels Make Regional Connections

It's time today for me to file a report on the ACA Northwest Regional Conference held last month concurrent with the Washington Technology Summit. I participated in this event on behalf of the TacomaAngel Network along with Larry Kopp, TAN's Co-Chair.

The Angel Capital Association (ACA) is a peer organization of angel investing groups in North America. This relatively new professional association focuses on networking and sharing of best practices among angel groups.

The ACA pulled together about thirteen investor groups from throughout the Pacific Northwest, including a few from Canada. The conference gave everyone a chance to network, compare notes, and learn "best practices"--or, at least, "common practices" for such a young, emerging field of endeavor.

The most significant result of this meeting was the beginning of an agreement to work together both to increase each group's deal flow through referrrals and to help with due diligence on compaines from each group's "back yard"; there may even be opportunities for groups to partner in syndication of really great enterprises.

There were also, of course, models for everyone to marvel on--and, of course, copy. My favorite was Mike Volker's Western University Technology Investment Fund, a Canadian solution for funding tech transfer. Not surprisingly, one group already has developed an ongoing blog about angel investing.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Follow Up to Cybersecurity Excercise

In answer to the interest so many showed from the Fort Lewis cybersecurity exercises, I wanted to give a quick follow up.

Don McLane, faculty participant, provided the following.

"Ft. Lewis provided an EXCEPTIONAL environment. Each group had three high-powered workstations, and six monitors. Groups had a while to familiarize themselves with their network. Then the people from West Point started attacking. This is a unique experience. Groups knew that experts were attacking their network--right now. Everyone drew on all their experience to identify and mitigate the threat."

Barbara Endicott-Popovsky, Director Center for Information Assurance and Cybersecurity (CIAC), University of Washington chimed in with this nugget.

"It was a big deal and Don's group was given special mention for their success with the exercise. Don did a great job preparing them. There were actually between 60-70 people there--huge group--U of Alaska Fairbanks, Highline CC, Cloverdale CC, Tacoma and Seattle. We have Ft. Lewis aboard for next year!"

Sounds great and look forward to next year.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Pierce County at Visual Analytics Meeting

Mark Goodwin, the Director of Public/Private Programs at Pacific Northwest National Laboratories passed on the following information.

The PNNL National Visualization and Analytics Centers Spring 2007 VAC meeting will be held Tuesday, May 15 at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, WA.

The meeting’s topic is Visual Analytics for Regional Preparedness, Security, Response, and Health. They will look at how visual analytic tools and techniques can be used to help deal with the complex problems associated with the huge quantities of multisource, multimedia data housed at regional centers. They will also present information on the plans and progress being made both regionally and nationally toward this issue.

Whew, look at all those capitalized words.

I checked out the docket for the meeting and it has some local interest. Speakers Steven Bailey and Jody Woodcock, both of the Pierce County Department of Emergency Management, will be participating in the End User Q&A.

Steve is the Director of the Department of Emergency Management, and manages five divisions of Pierce County Government. This includes the Division of Emergency Management responsible for all county disaster and major public safety incident response planning, preparedness, mitigation, and response activities.

Jody is the Mitigation, Preparedness and Recovery program manager for the Pierce County Department of Emergency Management and serves as the department’s media spokesperson.