Crosscut: What's Driving UW's New Business Boom?

Source: Drew Atkins, Cross Cut, July 22, 2013.

Whether they’re concocting anti-aging makeup, or creating the tools to fight deadly diseases, the crop of start-up companies emerging from [WCTA Gold Member] University of Washington’s Center for Commercialization (C4C) have the potential to change how we live. They’ve already changed how the University of Washington is perceived in the academic world.

This year the University of Washington catapulted into the top five universities in the country for commercialization efforts, up from 15th place only two years ago. This puts the university on par with such colleges as MIT, UCLA and Columbia University in using research acumen to incubate new businesses within the school.

At a press conference attended by Congressional delegations, tech industry leaders and local luminaries like Bill Gates Sr., UW President Michael Young announced that this was the most productive year in UW’s history for forming new companies. Seventeen new companies were unveiled, more than double the average number created over the past five years. According to Fred B. Holt, director of strategic initiatives at the C4C, that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

Here is one example of a UW spinout:

SecondWind:  Taken as a whole, some of the biggest energy consumers in the country are not people, individual businesses, or even towns. They are massive commercial buildings, such as data centers, cooling towers and bio-medical facilities. These facilities range in use, but one thing many share in common is their need for exhaust systems.

According to Michael Kudriavtseff, founder of SecondWind, the unused exhaust that comes out of these systems represents a lost opportunity. That’s why Kudriavtseff and his team have developed a turbine system capable of recovering up to 45 percent of the energy lost through that exhaust. Furthermore, through a system they’ve designed, they can tie the power those turbines capture directly into the building, unlike the more roundabout path taken by traditional solar systems.

“By using that more direct system, that can cut installation costs by up to 80 percent vs. normal turbine systems,” said Kudriavtseff. “This technology will help commercial users cut their energy costs drastically, and by targeting some of the biggest energy users, like data centers, we can affect energy consumption in a major, major way.”

SecondWind was one of the most advanced of the UW start-ups this year, with full commercialization launching in August. Kudriavtseff stated the components of the system are being manufactured locally, largely using the aeronautical expertise of Boeing sub-contractors to create the best possible system.

For a full list of new products, please visit:

Read the entire story here: Drew Atkins, Cross Cut, July 22, 2013.