TEAMWORK: Tacoma’s a Tech Town
Tech Town Tacoma
A major tech recruiter arrives, and an incubator grows ideas, businesses and jobs
When worldwide tech recruiting, consulting and outsourcing firm Oxford Global Resources outgrew its Federal Way space, Tacoma quickly jumped to the top the list of potential locations for its Washington State office. Tacoma’s hip downtown vibe, cultural and recreational offerings, cost of living, access to a pool of talent for internal hiring and a convenient location for its 25 employees were just some of the reasons the City of Destiny was the optimal choice. (Learn more about why Oxford opted for Tacoma at bit.ly/OxfordTacoma.)
“We are thrilled to be in Tacoma and look forward to continued growth here,” said Jeremiah Baker, Oxford’s director of business development. “We also look forward to becoming more involved with the business community.”
Oxford, through its staff augmentation and consulting services, provides expertise within IT, health care technology, life sciences and engineering. The firm moved into the historic Hunt & Mottet Building in January 2017.
“Oxford is just the latest addition to the landscape that points to the South Sound’s growing focus on tech,” said EDB CEO and President Bruce Kendall. “Companies like cybersecurity firm Infoblox, literally right next door to Oxford’s new home, have been drawn here for our lifestyle, cost of living and proximity to talent from the University of Washington Tacoma and other regional educational institutions. We’ll be seeing more tech additions and expansion in the future.”
Hatching homegrown ideas and innovation
Tacoma is also fast becoming a center for inspiring high-tech startups and training future professionals, offering a life-science innovation incubator, state-of-the-art working space and resources that support high-tech entrepreneurs and help grow local talent, companies and jobs.
The Readiness Acceleration & Innovation Network (RAIN) is a collaboration between UW Tacoma, MultiCare Health System and Madigan Army Medical Center. With an eye on making Tacoma a biotech hub, the nonprofit incubator is
dedicated to innovation in the life sciences, providing students with real-life training, and start-up companies with space and support for ideation, research and development, prototyping, business development and launch. Here’s a snapshot of what’s transpired since RAIN opened its doors last summer:
- RAIN is drawing biotech companies to Tacoma by offering a cost-effective alternative to develop their products, along with a network of experts, interns and biotech facilities. Currently in the incubator are: Orneon Health Inc. (biometrics for consumer-based genomics), Odysseus Technologies (carbon nanotube development) and E3 Engineering (biotech industrial engineering).
- RAIN has partnered with Keiretsu Forum NW, the regional chapter of the world’s largest angel investor network, and hosts monthly meetings featuring presentations from innovative startup companies seeking funding and resources. (Think Shark Tank.) “This partnership is an important step for us,” said Kristine Grace, RAIN’s director of marketing. “We’re developing several projects with companies that are building products and looking for access to our scientific team, health care partners and other opportunities that RAIN offers.”
- Students are being trained in advanced lab techniques, research models and networks that will help people and communities and advance their future biotech careers. RAIN’s international Genetically Engineered Machines (iGEM) team, a group of high school and UW Tacoma students, developed a DNA-based arsenic receptor that detects contaminates. The team competed at MIT last November with more than 300 international high school, college and community teams. They earned a bronze medal along with the Stanford, MIT and Pasteur Paris teams. This year’s team, which is still seeking sponsorship, is working to develop a biosensor. You can learn more at the 2018 team launch party March 8.
- On May 18-20, RAIN will host a BioHackathon, where 150 participants will solve a biologically based “challenge problem” that will advance science with a product or app. “Our goal is to draw more awareness to Tacoma as a biotech hub,” Grace said. “This is an opportunity for participants to access our network partners in medicine, biology, engineering and science.” A coinciding tech fair, open to the public, will be held May 19. Seattle and Eastside tech companies will present products, and network with RAIN participants and visitors.
Learn more about RAIN, including how to get involved, at rainincubator.org.
Space to innovate
Recognizing that innovation and ideas need space to grow and thrive, Tacoma has two great working spaces dedicated to tech. More appealing and inspiring than the isolated home office or noisy coffee shop, both offer a variety of memberships, from private offices to communal spaces.
- SURGEtacoma offers the benefits of working in an energized, high-tech start-up office-a state-of-the-art working space, co-working space and networking opportunities-without the long-term commitment and cost of setting up shop. A location near UW Tacoma and views of Mount Rainier are added bonuses.
- The Union Club, located in one of Tacoma’s most iconic historic buildings, is dedicated to supporting and promoting Tacoma’s tech and art scene.
There’s a lot going on, and a lot on the horizon. We’ll provide more updates on the South Sound’s growing tech scene in future issues of Teamwork.
Congrats on that…
Hail and farewell: Zeeck and Simon help drive higher education
Higher education is a key economic development engine. As such, the regents who guide the University of Washington are critical.
In January, EDB board member and News Tribune publisher David Zeeck was appointed by Governor Jay lnslee to the UW Board of Regents, replacing EDB board member Herb Simon, a founding partner of Simon Johnson. Simon served as a regent for 12 years.
“Dave understands the importance of increasing access to higher education and improving graduation rates for all students,” Inslee said. “As a journalist, he’s seen first-hand how education strengthens and grows individuals, their families and communities, and he understands that businesses need an educated and trained workforce.”
Kudos to EDB board member Herb Simon, chairman emeritus of the Simon Property Group, Inc., who served on the UW Board of Regents for 12 years.
“Herb’s extraordinary service as regent made a huge impact,” said EDB President and CEO Bruce Kendall. “During his tenure, enrollment and programs at UW Tacoma boomed, and the campus opened or refurbished seven buildings. His contributions are beyond measure.”
Dammeier and Ladenburg hold key regional leadership posts
Last year, Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier was elected vice president of the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC), and this year Pierce County Councilmember Connie Ladenburg was elected vice president of the Central Puget Sound Economic Development District (EDD).
If form holds, in May of 2018 Executive Dammeier will take over as president of the PSRC and Councilmember Ladenburg will take over as EDD president in early 2019.
These important leadership posts position Pierce County as a major player in economic development, land use, and transportation decisions in region (Pierce, Kitsap, Snohomish and King counties).
Bacon receives 2018 Trade Visionary Award
The World Trade Center Tacoma (WTCTA) recently honored Connie Bacon for her transformational and visionary work to promote Tacoma as a premier trade hub.
Bacon served as Port of Tacoma commissioner for 20 years as well as executive director of the WTCTA. She was the driving force behind the Tacoma-Fuzhou Sister City Agreement in 1994, a 14-year relationship that yielded substantial foreign investment in Tacoma including the Marriott Convention Center Hotel.
South Sound in the spotlight
This is the place to convene…
Tacoma is a hot spot for smaller conventions, according to Meetingsource.com. The national meeting-site-selection website picked Tacoma as the No.1 city for conventions of 1,000 or less.
Expedia named Tacoma as one of the most artistic towns in America. The international travel company was inspired by Tacoma’s investment in art, including the launch of ArtFull Tacoma in 2016, “which supports art institutions, projects, and initiatives to add to its already blossoming public art, museums and galleries.”
Read more about why Expedia digs our art scene.
…and make awesome windows
Each year, more than 40 million users of Houzz, the leading online platform for home renovation and design, select their favorite design photo on the Houzz website. Milgard landed among the top three percent of more than 1.5 million pics.