UW News

October 30, 2008

Machala brings spirit of entrepreneurship to UW

UW TechTransfer, the department responsible for commercial applications of academic research, is bringing new blood and new programs to help UW researchers who want to start new companies.

Janis Machala, a local veteran start-up expert, will be joining TechTransfer to lead and expand LaunchPad Services, a three-year old program to help UW faculty and graduate students who want to start their own companies. Machala comes to UW from Paladin Partners, a Kirkland company she founded in 1995 to help company growth and start-ups. She’ll start at UW Nov. 1 for a year-long appointment.

“Companies are all about people and teams, and I’ve been known for building these teams,” Machala said. “I’m really excited to help the academic talent at UW. We can be a great matchmaking service for them.”

Machala’s first task will be the creation of a new program called Entrepreneurs-in-Residence, she said, to bring experts from Seattle-area companies to advise UW faculty and graduate students interested in learning more about business and to take some of the burden of starting a new company off the researchers’ shoulders. This way, faculty who are interested in starting a company won’t have to give up as much of their academic life. “Partnering with a seasoned executive lets them pursue both dreams,” said Linden Rhoads, UW TechTransfer’s new vice provost.

Before founding Paladin Partners, Machala worked in several technology companies, including Microsoft, Wang Laboratories and Sun Microsystems. She has strong connections to the local technology industry, which she will draw on for Entrepreneurs-in-Residence.

Machala’s appointment and LaunchPad Services, which was started in 2006, are two of the ways UW is trying to become more entrepreneur-friendly, Machala said. “We need to build a management team around the researchers,” she said. “That kind of support hasn’t been there yet.”

Machala’s 13-year old company, Paladin Partners, guides and supports people who want to start new companies. “It’s such a talented group of people in UW TechTransfer,” Machala said. “They have so much market knowledge, and I have start-up knowledge. I think those two will be a really powerful combination.”

Machala is no stranger to UW — she’s been teaching in the MBA program here for two years, and has enjoyed seeing her students’ ideas grow to fruition. “It’s fun to see someone get caught by the spirit of entrepreneurship,” she said.

Besides the Entrepreneurs-in-Residence program, Machala will expand LaunchPad Services to include funding sources for certain start-up companies, and will provide more hands-on coaching to UW-based start-ups.

UW TechTransfer also announced the Informed Research initiative, led by Fred B. Holt, a veteran Boeing researcher. The new initiative will recruit members of the industry and investment community to advise researchers early in their development of innovations that may lead to commercial applications.

“This is part of the University of Washington’s commitment to be the best place in the world for researchers,” said Rhoads. “Adding early input from the business community and Janis’ extensive background working with our region’s startups is a huge step in UW TechTransfer’s ability to provide world-class support to our researchers.”