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Office of Economic Development Talent

Passion, energy, statewide resources drive young biotech

Sam Byrd Co-Optical
WSU alumni & Co-Optical CEO Samuel Byrd with a prototype of a glucose-monitoring device he worked with a student team to develop.

When Samual Byrd saw the daily challenges his mom faced as a recently-diagnosed diabetes patient, he wanted to do something to help her get healthy again. As a bioengineering student and entrepreneurship fellow at Washington State University, he was uniquely suited to actually take on that challenge.

And he did. » More …

Cross-state collaboration fosters student entrepreneurship

Engage student startup with prototype of their product, SafeShot
Engage student startup with prototype of their product, SafeShot

For two students who did not think much of entrepreneurship a year ago, Emily Willard and Katherine Brandenstein have been making quite a splash in Washington’s biotech startup space.

Their company – Engage – started as a senior design class assignment and evolved into a full time job that they will pursue after graduation.
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Student interns help small business exporting

Guest Post from Hope Tinney with the Small Business Development Centers

Torklift International, an industry leader in after-market upgrades and accessories for truck campers, caravans and other recreational vehicles, has been selling its made-in-Washington products to camping enthusiasts around the world for decades.

For the most part, though, international customers were going online or working through an authorized dealer to buy tow bars, hitches, turnbuckles, truss extensions, tie-downs and other hardware, which meant the single-item shipping costs were high and the delivery time could be weeks, if not months.

With a relatively large and growing customer base in Australia, the family-run, Kent-based company started wondering if the customer demand could support a distribution center Down Under. » More …

Entrepreneurial students innovate to solve grand challenges

University faculty are not the only ones making an impact with their research – over the last few weeks WSU students have developed and been recognized for innovations that tackle grand challenges such as sustaining health around the world and developing sustainable resources. We wanted to take a moment to highlight these student teams, and demonstrate the impact that experiential education has not only on students’ development, but on their communities as well. » More …

Be like Owen: Take your tech skills to agriculture

General Electric recently released a series of commercials that repaints the 123-year-old industrial company as an innovative, fresh place to work for young computer scientists and programmers. GE’s wants to be viewed as the world’s premier digital industrial company, and Patrick Williams would like to do the same thing for agriculture. » More …

Hands-on learning that helps business community thrive

“I couldn’t hire enough people to do what Business Growth MAP has done for me. Hands-down, it’s one of the best things I’ve done since I opened.”

– Bonnie Brasure
Owner, Bleu Door Bakery

Bonnie Brasure represents one of the 145 organizations and entrepreneurs who have received free business consulting services from students in WSU Vancouver’s Business Growth Mentor Analysis Program (MAP) over the past four years. Since launching in 2011, participating companies reported $4.6 million of new revenues and 15 full-time jobs that are directly attributable to the program.

In recognition of that impressive economic impact, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities will recognize the program as a leading example of regional economic development at the annual meeting that starts Sunday. » More …

Mentoring program increases diversity in STEM

Corinna Cisneros did not take her decision to pursue engineering lightly. As a single working mom going to community college full time, she wanted to be sure that more time in school would land her in a fulfilling career.

At Tacoma Community College, Cisneros excelled in math and worked as a tutor and supplemental instructor. Her plan originally was to pursue teaching, but co-workers recognized her potential for engineering and recommended she consider the field. After diligent research exploring the profession, this first generation college student set her sights on a bachelor’s program at Washington State University, a move that would mean two more years of school.

“I wanted to show my daughter that education is important,” Cisneros said, “that no matter how much money you have, whether you’re dirt poor and have family support or not, that getting your education is achievable.”

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Supporting rural entrepreneurship by bringing communities together

Bob Stevens at P2P

One of Bob Stevens’ favorite things about owning a business is helping high school students through their first job interviews.

“They are scared, but rapt with attention,” said Stevens, who owns and founded Northwest Applied Marine in Chewelah, Wash. “You can see that they really want to learn something.”

In 10-years as a resident of Chewelah – population 2600 – Stevens has seen manufacturing companies come and go partially due to a lack of talented local workforce, a trend which is also happening nationwide. When Stevens launched Northwest Applied Marine in 2010, he experienced his own need for a talented workforce, and turned it into an opportunity to offer more vocational training to Chewelah students. Currently, he has five high school interns.

“Pretty much the only job opportunity in town is Subway or Zips fast food,” Stevens said. “The students I work with are intelligent and very capable; they need opportunities outside of home and school to learn.”

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