We are a state that innovates. From hydroelectricity that launched our agriculture industry and today fuels huge server farms, to aerospace that birthed our commercial space exploration sector, to information technology that brought us wireless phones, desktop publishing and now data analytics and virtual reality. Technology drives innovation from Pullman to Redmond, and the result is not only a robust economy but tangible benefits for all of Washington's citizens. We are more connected, have more opportunities, and can see the public good that innovation generates.
Boeing is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Over the course of its 100 year history, Boeing has not only built itself to become an industry leader, but has also fostered an aerospace ecosystem in Washington state. Boeing employs close to 78,000 employees in Washington state itself while creating an estimated additional 83,000 jobs indirectly, from the more than 1,900 suppliers and vendors from whom Boeing makes $5.7 billion in purchases annually.
Washington state will forever be associated with personal computing as the home of Microsoft. While Microsoft provided the operating system, other local companies provided the content. Aldus was a pioneer in desktop publishing with PageMaker and the founders of Aldus later founded Visio. Before Netflix and Spotify, there was RealNetworks who were the first to stream a sporting event over the internet in 1995, a baseball game between the Seattle Mariners and the New York Yankees. The Mariners won 6-5. And perhaps Washington state is to blame for an entire generation being glued to their cell phones. It was here that William Dubilier built a wireless communications link between Seattle and Tacoma in 1909. Fast forward 80 years, Craig McCaw’s Cellular One became the nation’s first national cellular system.
CLEAR! In 1955, a Seattle cardiovascular surgeon started experimenting with electronic means of halting death during sudden cardiac arrest which lead to the invention of the DC defibrillator. Dr. Karl William Edmark would then incorporate the company we know today as Physio-Control. Donald Baker, working in the University of Washington’s bioengineering lab, added doppler technology to existing ultrasound devices to give them clearer images. His work was first published in 1967 and transitioned into Advanced Technology Laboratories as one of the first cases of successful technology transfer out of the university.
Our state excels at R&D in both the private and public sectors, with Microsoft and Amazon leading the way in private investment and the University of Washington, Washington State University, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center receiving major public research dollars.
Numbers don't lie. The numbers that surround our daily lives tell a story. Seattle's Tableau is in the business of helping people makes stories from numbers. Their innovative software helps users put statistics and numbers into context for their audience. Along with Tableau, Microsoft Machine Learning, Amazon EMR, and Dato are all local companies that help users interpret their data. Pioneer Square-based PayScale helps both job seekers and employers turn thousands of employment and education data points into marketable information. Seattle companies not only provide the tools, but are using big data to transform industries. Kirkland based Inrix specializes in traffic data, Zillow- real estate data, ExtraHop and Apptio - IT operations and management, Socrata - government data, and Context Relevant - predictive analytics for businesses.
Along with the emergence of big data has come the growing demand for cloud computing. With Amazon and Microsoft in our backyard, Washington state holds a near 50% market share of the cloud computing industry.
The little online bookstore that could. Amazon has grown from selling only books to more than 200 million items on the US site alone. But they are not the only company in town turning what have been traditionally brick and mortar operations into solely online business. Blue Nile, drugstore.com, and Zulily are just three examples of the countless Washington-based companies leading the e-tailing revolution.
Personal Health Technologies
Out of the 100K Wellness Project conducted at the Institute for Systems Biology came Arivale. The scientific wellness company takes more than 3 billion data points of their participants to map a 360-degree view of their health. Seattle is now at the center of a revolution to fundamentally change how healthcare is practiced.
Impinj's RFID chips have enabled digital life for more than 13 billion everyday items. And Amazon's Alexa is giving us even more ways to seamlessly manage our homes.
Virtual Reality / Augmented Reality
The $2 Billion purchase of Oculus by Facebook ushered in a new era of virtual reality (VR) and Seattle is poised to become an industry leading hub of innovation in the sector, with the leading hardware manufactures in town including HTC, Microsoft, and Oculus and many software start-ups (Pixvana among them). The Technology Alliance's Research to the Marketplace event this year highlighted many of these companies and their potential impact.
Sustainability is of utmost importance to companies in our region. Weyerhaeuser and its portfolio of innovative products aim to address sustainability issues through a variety of high tech advances utilizing wood-based waste. THRIVE is a natural-fiber thermoplastic composite used in automotive parts, office furniture, kitchenware and appliances that require less energy to produce and reduce wear and tear on processing equipment. Norbrite 92 is a paper made from thermo-mechanical pulp fiber that offers a wood-fiber yield twice that of uncoated free-sheet paper products.
The Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge, held annually at the University of Washington, taps into the passion, smarts, and motivation of university students to solve pressing environmental problems. This year's winner was AgriC, a budding effort to produce chitin-based biodegradable plastics for agriculture. Chitin is made from discarded crustacean shells and can also serve as a fertilizer after decomposing. The interdisciplinary team behind AgricC, comprised of students from the Foster School of Business, UW Biology, and UW Civil and Environmental Engineering, says their product has the potential to save 900 million pounds of plastic used by farmers annually.
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has been developing novel methods to convert biomass to industrial and consumer products, fuels, and energy for years. Most recently, PNNL researchers have been working to develop and commercialize renewable fuel from wet algae. And in collaboration with Hoquiam biofuel producer Renewable Energy Group and LanzaTech, PNNL has created a new method to make biomass-based jet fuels in the hopes that renewable jet fuel production facilities can be built in the Pacific Northwest. Aviation is a considerable source of greenhouse gas emissions, and if biofuels are widely adopted, it could have significant impact on climate change.
Commercial Space Exploration
The democratization of space travel is taking shape in our back yard. In the history of space travel, there have only been 500 indviduals selected to make the journey (almost all professional astronauts). With commercial space travel within grasp, already more than 1000 private citizens have reserved seats on commercials space flights. Blue Origin plans to offer an Astronaut Experience that can make anyone into an astronaut in 2 days. What are you plans this weekend?
Drones / Robotics
Amazon Prime Now still isn’t fast enough? Well Amazon is working on that with Amazon Prime Air, aiming to deliver your packages with drones in less than 30 minutes or less. They are just an example of the many Washington state based companies working on drones. Insitu, based in Bingen Washington (near Hood River), is a leader in drones used for civil, commercial, and defense operations. Washington State University's Center for Precision & Automated Agricultural Systems is researching ways to use drones to save Washington farmers $80 million lost annually due to yield loss attributed to bird damage.