Seattle Roundup: Big Numbers, UW Incubator, Trupanion, Cray, & More

7/11/14Follow @bromano

This week we’re reviewing reports on Northwest funding activity and Seattle building activity, both indicators—leading or trailing?—of the tech economy’s strength. We’ve also got details on an accolade for the University of Washington’s commercialization efforts, Trupanion’s IPO plans, deals for Cray and Concur, and Flowboard’s next move:

—Here are a couple of very big numbers to ponder: $4.1 billion and $4.3 billion. They validate what anyone who looks at Seattle’s skyline, populated by a flock of tower cranes, already knows: The region’s technology economy has come roaring back out of the recession.

Funding data provider CB Insights looked at investment activity across the Pacific Northwest and found some $4.1 billion invested in 1,642 deals during the last five years. The funding is from venture capitalists, corporations and corporate venture groups, hedge funds, angel investors, and startup incubators. “Since the start of 2009, both deal and funding activity in the Pacific Northwest have seen a marked rise,” CB Insights says in a lengthy, detailed post that’s worth reading and bookmarking.

Meanwhile, there are 100 building projects permitted, ready to begin, under construction, or recently completed, the most activity since tracking began, according to a report from the Metropolitan Improvement District/Downtown Seattle Association. That 100-project portfolio carries a price tag of nearly $4.3 billion and includes lots of office space for Amazon. The majority of the projects are residential.

—University of Washington’s commercialization efforts won another accolade this week as the New Ventures Facility, a startup incubator space within the Center for Commercialization, was recognized as the most promising university business incubator by the University Business Incubators Global Index. The incubator space in Fluke Hall opened two and a half years ago, has hosted 18 startup companies, including 14 there now, and is expanding to make room for more. Upwards of 300 universities around the world were evaluated in the index, which measures how well their incubators do at serving startup clients and creating economic impact, such as new jobs. Here’s a detailed look at its methodology. The top incubator was the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship at Rice University in Houston, TX, followed by SETsquared at University of Bath in the U.K., and SCUT National University Science Park at South China University of Technology.

Trupanion, the Seattle-based pet insurance provider, set a price range of $13 to $15 a share for its planned initial public offering of about 8.2 million shares of stock, including underwriter purchase options. At the maximum price, the 14-year-old company would bring in $122.9 million before expenses. The company proposes to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol TRUP. More details are in Trupanion’s SEC registration statement.

—Supercomputer maker Cray (NASDAQ: CRAY) has won another major contract, this one with the National Nuclear Security Administration worth $174 million, making it among the largest in the Seattle company’s history. A Cray XC supercomputer and Sonexion storage system with room for 82 petabytes will help the Department of Energy “ensure the safety, security, and effectiveness of the United States’ nuclear stockpile,” Cray says in a news release. The computing system, called Trinity, will support agency activities at three national laboratories: Los Alamos, where it will be located, Sandia, and Lawrence Livermore.

—In other deal news, Bellevue, WA,-based Concur (NASDAQ: CNQR) is teaming up with United Airlines to allow business travelers and travel management companies to book flights on the airline using Concur’s TripLink product, which automatically handles mileage credits and expense reporting. Concur chairman and CEO Steve Singh says in a blog post that this partnership is aimed at helping customers manage “invisible spend,” money that is spent outside of travel management programs, and is therefore harder to track. “We believe you should see where your dollars are going and know where your travelers are, and we believe in making business travelers’ lives easier in the process,” Singh says.

Flowboard, a Seattle maker of a touch-optimized presentation creation app for iPad, has released a new version for use on the Mac that takes advantage of the keyboard and mouse. We profiled Flowboard’s “touch publishing” iPad app last year in the context of the debate over tablets as content creation or consumption devices. Geared toward professional content creators, the companion Flowboard Mac app, which debuted in the Mac App Store this week at $9.99 for early adopters, offers design improvements and an analytics dashboard to give content creators insight into who is viewing their presentations, and on what devices. The regular price is $19.99. Flowboard says it has more than 200,000 registered users for its free iPad app, and has found adoption in thousands of schools.

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

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