Friday, February 29, 2008

TAN Enjoys Time in the Sun

The TacomaAngel Network has swiftly become a major economic driver in Pierce County. At a recent meeting, the TacomaAngel Network Board announced that since the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber founded the organization in the spring of 2006, TAN has facilitated the investment of $3 million by its members to small businesses.

In just 2 years, it has also grown its membership base to a size that was not achieved by a similar organization in Bellingham for almost 10 years. Companies and investors alike are saying that the high-touch TAN is not only a regional success, but a model for other communities around the country.

At a recent TAN meeting, four new Northwest start-ups and early-stage companies presented to about 60 onlookers at the Tacoma Club. The companies represented cities from all over the Northwest: Fox Island WA, Beaverton OR, Bellevue WA and Redmond WA. Their products ranged from software to board games to high-tech devices; but their goal was the same.

“The majority of these companies are disciplined, ambitious and poised for growth,” said Paul Ellis, TAN’s secretary and treasurer. “These are the kind of companies investors like.”

Out of the almost 200 companies that apply each year for funding on the organization’s website about 100 are scored and ranked, and about 50 are pre-screened and coached in person. Twenty-five finalists present to members. Fifty percent of these finalists will most likely receive funding - one of the highest funding ratios in the Northwest.

(L to R) Paul Ellis, John Dimmer, Larry Kopp

John B. Dimmer and Larry S. Kopp co-chair the organization and work closely with Paul Ellis, who is also the director of metropolitan development for the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber. All three men were honored at a recent TAN meeting for their exemplary service.

Four new board members were also added by the election of the membership in the board’s first expansion since its founding. The new board members include Greg Olson, Bjorne Hansen, Paul Miller and Dawn Lucien. While Ellis will soon relocate to Illinois, the TAN Board plans on adding David Graybill, President of the Chamber, to its list of board members.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Angels on High

Angel investing gains traction as Dow Jones VentureSource announces that it is partnering with the Angel Capital Education Foundation (ACEF), to raise the visibility of the earliest stages of innovation investment. Together, ACEF and Dow Jones VentureSource will gather and report on angel organization investment in United States.

A growing number of angel investors are expected to find more investment opportunities, but fewer exits, in 2008, according to a new report from the Angel Capital Association. The organization, a peer-to-peer affiliation of independent investment groups that funnel individual wealth into startup companies, also asserts that angel investment is somewhat insulated from macroeconomic trends and can thrive during economic downturns.

Jim Roberts, former executive director of the Blue Ridge Entrepreneurial Council and the Blue Ridge Angel Investors Network, offered some thoughts for entrepreneurs in search of angel support.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tacoma, Robots and Dean Kamen

What do Dean Kamen, robots and Tacoma have in common? Mark your calendars for March 20th and 21st when 31 high school FIRST teams will converge on the Tacoma Convention Center for the Seattle FIRST Robotics Regional Competition by Microsoft.

Dean Kamen, is an inventor and scientist with a numerous list of awards for his creation of devices such as the iBOT Mobility System, the AutoSyringe and the one he is most often linked with, the Segwey Human Transporter. Currently he is working on a project involving Stirling engine designs to be utilized in developing countries. The idea is to create a machine that would generate power while serving as a water purification system.

According to Wikipedia,
In 1989, Kamen founded FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), for high school students. In 2005, FIRST held over 30 regional competitions and one international competition. In 2007, 37 competitions were held in places across the world such as Israel, Brazil, Canada, and the U.S.A.. Kamen remains the driving force behind the organization, providing over 1,000 high schools with the tools needed to learn valuable engineering skills.

Microsoft is sponsoring the competition to be held here in Tacoma. Among the 31 teams competing are three Tacoma area teams representing Bellarmine Preparatory, Wilson and The School of the Arts high schools. Official team names below.

Fikret Yuksel Foundation/Parents of Bellarmine Robotics & Bellarmine Prep Tacoma

Murdock Foundation / Dimmer Foundation & Wilson High School

Tacoma School of the Arts High School

Other schools that will be representing are coming from Seattle, Vancouver BC, Anchorage, Bend and many other Northwest cities.

Debra Mumm-Hill, FIRST Pacific NW Regional Director and Kevin Rolls, who also works with the FIRST Lego League came by and visited with me about the event. It will attract 500 plus high schoolers to the downtown, and multiply that for the adults who come to see and work at the competition.

You dorkbots out there, they are going to need volunteers for this event so stay tuned for more information as it comes out.

Also posted at

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

WA Tech Center Funding Available

Reminder: Research Funding Available from Washington Technology Center

Spring deadlines: notice of intent due March 20, application due April 24

Are you working on innovative technology applications with near-term commercial potential? Consider applying for a Washington Technology Center grant to offset the costs of your R&D.

Washington Technology Center awards hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding to Washington-based research teams in an effort to help transition great ideas out of the laboratory and into the marketplace.

If you are a Washington technology business looking to partner with an academic or non-profit researcher on a collaborative research endeavor, you may be eligible for a funding award through Washington Technology Center's Research & Technology Development (RTD) grants program. These awards help Washington companies grow faster, create jobs and attract investors by providing the critical funding needed to advance scientific research and product development.

RTD awards pay up to 80% of the cost of research projects -- allowing you to channel your capital to other business growth needs or continue working on breakthrough scientific discoveries. Project teams are eligible to receive up to $100,000 for initial proof-of-concept projects and up to $300,000 total for multi-phase projects.

Washington Technology Center allocates $1 million annually for these grants, which are awarded on a competitive basis to collaborative research teams working on innovative technology projects with strong commercial potential. Washington Technology Center is now accepting proposals for its next round of grants which will be awarded in June, 2008. Projects begin July 1, 2008. But hurry, application deadlines are drawing near. Notice of Intent deadline is March 20 and applications are due April 24.

Free informational meetings will be held throughout Washington state in 2008.

For more information about the RTD Grants Program, visit Here you will find everything from Fast Facts to Eligibility Criteria to Downloadable Proposal Materials. Or, for additional information, please contact Russell Paez, 206.616.3102,

More than 300 companies have benefited from the RTD grant program. You could be next.

SBIR Funding Workshops

Final Courtesy Reminder:
SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research)
Program for Technology Entrepreneurs

Learn how federal SBIR funding helps small business
owners and technology entrepreneurs

Two Seminar Locations:

Vancouver, Washington

Feb. 15, 2008
9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Includes Lunch WSU Vancouver
Seminar Details
Cost: Free of Charge
Register by Feb. 7

Pullman, Washington

Feb. 20, 2008
Includes Breakfast: 7:30 to 8 a.m.
Program: 8 a.m. to noon
WSU Pullman
Cost: Free of Charge

Washington Technology Center presents a SBIR (Small Business Innovation Research) Program for Technology Entrepreneurs seminar.
Small business owners and technology entrepreneurs will learn how to successfully compete for federal SBIR funding. Learn how qualified U.S. businesses can obtain SBIR funding for research to evaluate the scientific and technical merit of an idea, create and test prototype technology, and develop the commercialization strategy.
Seminar speakers will share essential tools and tips for submitting award-winning SBIR proposals. Attendees will learn about the breadth of SBIR support available through WSU's Innovation Assessment Center, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory's Technical Assistance Program, Small Business Development Center Advisors and through collaboration with WSU researchers. The seminar is free, but attendees must register online in advance.