Office of the President

August 7, 2014

Creating an epicenter of commercialization

Michael K. Young

At its heart, commercialization moves ideas with impact into the lives of people who benefit most. Right here on campus, our students are going beyond improving lives; they are cultivating a lifelong passion for discovery that leads entrepreneurism in our region and our country.

At the UW, we are committed to fostering commercialization because we know it can change the landscape of learning. How do we do it? Through programs like the Environmental Innovation Challenge (EIC), the Center for Commercialization (C4C) and the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship. These programs equip students with the skills and tenacity to navigate our rapidly advancing world and encourage Huskies to think expansively, challenging them to be the first in their fields.

PolyDrop is a great example of our students daring to do. As one of 18 UW startups launched this year, PolyDrop began as a senior design project for two of our chemical engineering students. Their innovative technology is now revolutionizing the airline industry, a process supported from the start by the C4C. More than a year after taking home the top prize at the 2013 EIC, the students — now UW alumni — are working with PolyDrop full time and preparing the company to enter the market. With help from UW programs such as these, students gain exposure to experienced business and research talent, engaging them to pursue their ideas and make a difference in our world.

Our students’ passion is why we lead collegiate commercialization and their work has given the UW much to be proud of. Our New Ventures Facility was listed among the world’s top 10 business incubators in 2014, and we spun out a record-breaking 18 startups in the past fiscal year alone. In fact, we have had two successive years of record-breaking startup launches. We possess the most signed technology licenses among universities in the nation. UW startups also average 60 employees per company, increasing the opportunities for students to find a job after graduation.

Looking to the future, the UW is poised to become an epicenter for collaboration, innovation and experiential education. By providing unparalleled experiences and support for students, we believe that our culture of commercialization will transform higher education.