Roundup: UW Tech Policy, Deals for F5, WaveDivison, Enclarity, & More

9/17/13Follow @bromano

The new University of Washington Tech Policy Lab promises to be a great resource for lawmakers and others trying to keep up with the implications of fast-evolving technology on many aspects of society. Read on for details on that plus a new Staples.com development center in Seattle; acquisitions news from WaveDivision Holdings, F5 Networks, and Enclarity; and an aviation Center of Excellence to be led by Washington State University.

—University of Washington experts in law, information, and computer science and engineering will tackle thorny technology issues at a new Tech Policy Lab, supported by a $1.7 million “no-strings” gift from Microsoft. The lab will test new technologies and research policy implications of broad technology trends such as big data and the Internet of Things on issues such as privacy, security, and government records access. “Right now, technology shoots ahead often leaving a huge policy vacuum, and then policymakers run to catch up,” says UW Information School Professor Batya Friedman in a statement. “How do we figure out how to co-evolve technology and policy so that we don’t experience these vacuums? It’s a fascinating challenge.” Friedman is a founding director of the lab, along with UW School of Law Assistant Professor Ryan Calo, and UW Computer Science and Engineering Associate Professor Tadayoshi Kohno.

—Staples.com, which describes itself as second only to Amazon.com in Internet retail, is opening a Seattle operation to work on “next generation digital platforms, personalization, and big-data.” The company is making a local hiring push this month, seeking software developers, product managers, and others with a sought-after set of skills including big data, machine learning, and search. The company opened a satellite lab in Cambridge, MA, last year to drive e-commerce innovation. It has a similar goal with its Seattle development center.

—WaveDivision Holdings, the independent cable and broadband services provider based in Kirkland, WA, has acquired CondoInternet and its parent company, Seattle-based Spectrum Networks. Wave, which recapitalized last fall to the tune of $1.05 billion, intends to operate the companies as separate businesses, with no impact on customers or employees.

F5 Networks is buying Versafe, a Tel-Aviv, Israel-based maker of online and mobile security software. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the Seattle-based company says the acquisition will not have a material impact on operating results. Last week, F5 announced it has 50 software engineering openings at its new Bellevue, WA, location. The company is one of several technology businesses including Microsoft and Google to have locations on both sides of Lake Washington, betting that commute times are a significant factor for prospective employees in a competitive market. F5 has some 3,100 employees spread around the world, more than 600 of whom have been hired since the start of 2012.

—Health care data and analytics provider Enclarity, an Ignition Partners portfolio company with a Seattle office, has been acquired by LexisNexis Risk Solutions. Warren Gouk was CFO and head of business development at Enclarity and is now a senior vice president and general manager of Enclarity within LexisNexis, which has recently acquired two other medical technology companies to bolster its offerings in health care information and identity management, and fraud, waste, and abuse detection. Financial terms are not being disclosed, but Gouk tells Xconomy, “It is a great outcome for all the shareholders.” He says the Seattle office will remain.

–Washington state’s efforts to become a hub of aviation biofuels innovation is getting a boost from the Federal Aviation Administration, which is backing a university-led Center of Excellence in new environmental aircraft technology and alternative fuels to the tune of $40 million over 10 years. Washington State University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are co-leaders of the center, which will bring together scientists from 15 other universities including the University of Washington, Stanford University, and Boston University. Another 26 entities are also participating including aircraft giants Boeing and Airbus, carriers Alaska Airlines and Cathay Pacific, engine makers, biofuels companies, and government research labs. Research projects will help the FAA reach a goal of improving the energy efficiency of the National Airspace System by 2 percent a year, and fueling commercial aviation with a billion gallons of alternative jet fuel by 2018.

 

Benjamin Romano is editor of Xconomy Seattle. Email him at bromano [at] xconomy.com. Follow @bromano

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