Associate Vice President for
Economic Development and External Affairs
Washington State University
Coming on the heels of the Thanksgiving holiday, I wanted to take a moment to thank the CleanTech Alliance Washington for the recognition they brought to WSU last week with the CleanTech Achievement Award.
This is more than just a nice trophy for the University. The CleanTech Achievement Award recognizes decades of WSU engagement with local communities, businesses, and governments to meet economic and quality of life needs for Washington and beyond. Public universities’ role in regional economic ecosystems is not often understood or easy to quantify, and this award helps do both for WSU.
Public universities provide talent and innovation to their regions, as well as responding to community needs through outreach. They educate students who graduate prepared for the workforce, collaborate on research that can solve problems and help advance industry, and start companies that create new jobs and markets. All of those assets provide support to existing business, and makes the region attractive to new business – both of which are key to keeping industries and communities thriving.
WSU’s research expertise, academic programs and outreach makes it a key player in the cleantech industry, and prime example of university engagement. Take a look at what this really means:
New innovation: WSU has a long history in research related to the main pillarsof the cleantech sector in Washington, offering opportunities for collaboration to solve industry problems, and facilities where industry can test new technologies and processes. As a result, WSU has over 20 industry partners in this sector both with local and a global footprint, and is a major part of several regional projects that provide jobs for Washington and a more sustainable future for the world.
Through commercialization efforts, WSU offers some of the new technologies that companies want to test. In the past five years, WSU filed 198 provisional and full patents, signed 55 licensing agreements and launched seven startup companies related to cleantech.
Workforce pipeline: WSU students study a wide range of topics beneficial to cleantech, from power engineering to economics. Classes are supplemented by real-world projects with industry that give the students hands-on experiences, and connections to the people who will hire them after graduation.
WSU’s dedication to training future innovators and industry leaders even reaches beyond the University and into high schools. For 10 years WSU has put on Imagine Tomorrow, a regional competition that encourages high school students to find solutions to today’s biggest energy and sustainability problems. The competition is highly successful, well attended, and invigorating to the industry professionals who judge each year
Community engagement: as the land-grant university of the state, WSU is engrained in assisting community development across the state. Take the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance focused on the development of aviation biofuels, which has over 15 team members who are dedicated to work side by side with communities to ensure that the feedstocks and supply chains developed successfully contribute to community economic development, long term.
So thank you again, to the CleanTech Alliance and our industry and research partners across the state. Thank you for quantifying the value of this work so we can keep innovating with you for years to come.
Read the press release from last week for more details.