How Seattle VCs Are Adapting to the UW TechTransfer Revolution (Part 2)

4/17/09Follow @gthuang

[This is the second part of a series on how the process of identifying venture-backed startups and commercialization opportunities at the University of Washington is evolving---Eds.]

How does the University of Washington Tech Transfer office view its ongoing relationship with venture capitalists?

On Wednesday, we reported on how venture firms around town are going about their business, working with researchers at the UW and looking for the next big startup. The focus was on recent changes at UW TechTransfer—with the high-profile hires of Linden Rhoads and Janis Machala, both prominent leaders in the tech-business community—that seem to have led to increased involvement with industry and venture capital. I wanted to hear Rhoads’s top-level perspective on this, as well as some more specifics from a few local VCs. I also dug up a couple intriguing bits of news, and things to look for down the road.

Rhoads first stressed the importance of outreach to the community. “We’re hosting many representatives from area firms, as well as Boston firms and other areas, and venture arms of pharmaceutical companies, but given the economic realities, none of that activity has turned out to be the most important to us,” says Rhoads. “Most important to us is the depth of our relationships with our traditional VC partners. It goes far beyond their actual portfolio companies.”

In this “far beyond” realm is the work that Seattle-area venture capitalists do to help recruit star faculty, serve on UW committees, and, of course, meet with the school’s researchers to advise them on commercialization possibilities.

Last month, UW TechTransfer held its first half-day retreat (including an advisory board meeting) since Rhoads took the helm. She says they hosted about 50 top business leaders in a room on campus for five hours: people like Nick Hanauer of Second Avenue Partners, Bob Nelsen of Arch Venture Partners, Matt McIlwain and Greg Gottesman of Madrona Venture Group, Ron Howell of the Washington Research Foundation (WRF Capital), Cameron Myhrvold of Ignition Partners, Bill McAleer from Voyager Capital, and Chad Waite from OVP. (The list of who’s who keeps going— Alan Frazier, Carl Weissman, … Next Page »

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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