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Economic Development Office

Tri-Cities Tech Business Update

This monthly e-mailed update contains news, opportunities, upcoming events, and other information about Mid-Columbia tech businesses and the organizations that support them.

July 2017 Issue


Richland Firm Awarded $2.3 Million for Membrane Reactor Work

Molecule Works Inc., a Richland, WA-based technology company, received $2.3M in funding for a novel electrochemical membrane reactor for synthesizing ammonia from air and water at low temperature and low pressure. The funding is part of $20M in awards given to 10 U.S.-based research firms by DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy program.  Molecule Works Inc., established in 2015, licensed porous metal sheet, thin-sheet zeolite membrane, and flat-plate membrane module inventions from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.  Learn about Molecule Works Inc.

Neoen to Build Largest Solar Project in State

Neoen, a French independent renewable energy project developer, has begun site studies for the largest utility-scale photovoltaic power plant in Washington State.  The 20-megawatt photovoltaic solar project will be located in Benton County adjacent to the Hanford Site and is well suited for the Tri-Cities due to the available land, infrastructure to support power projects, and abundant sunshine. The project, which is being supported by Energy Northwest, is scheduled for completion in 2019.  Learn more.

Haggerty Named Senior Advisor for Beacon Group

Alan Haggerty, a member of the Mid-Columbia Energy Initiative and a director of the board of Tri-Cities Research District, has joined The Beacon Group as a Senior Advisor for the firm’s Aerospace, Defense, and Government practice.  Captain Haggerty is retired U.S. Navy, former director at Lockheed Martin, and is currently a consultant for the Department of Defense’s Defense Innovation Unit Experimental.  Read more.  Learn more about The Beacon Group.

InEnTec Receives SBIR Award for Plasma-Based Devices

InEnTec Inc., a technology firm based in Richland, WA, has been selected to receive nearly $150K from the DOE Small Business Innovation Research Program.  The company will develop plasma-based devices to improve the operational window of gas turbines used for power generation, which will in turn increase flexibility of gas turbines used for power generation and enable a higher fraction of renewable power generation in the power grid. InEnTec is a spinoff company from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.  Learn more about InEnTec.

Lignin Biojet Wins CleanTech Big Picture Prize

Lignin Biojet, a research team from Washington State University – Tri-Cities, recently won the Wells Fargo “CleanTech” Big Picture prize at the University of Washington’s Business Plan Competition.  The $5K prize was received for the team’s process of taking lignin—a waste product in the cellulosic ethanol biorefineries and the pulping process—and turning it into an environmentally friendly, cheap jet fuel.  The process could potentially reduce the carbon emissions for commercial airlines.  Learn more.

Richland Native Selected as NASA Astronaut Candidate

A woman from Richland, WA was selected by NASA from among 18,300 applicants to be part of the 2017 class of astronaut candidates.  Kayla Barron will report to the Johnson Space Center in Houston this August to begin two years of training.  Learn more.

Benton-Franklin Trends

The fourth quarterly issue of Benton-Franklin Trends is now available. This issue features a welcome message from Amy Person and Rebecca Sutherland of the Benton-Franklin Health District, as well as Q&A with Carol Moser, Executive Director of the Greater Columbia Accountable Community of Health. In addition, read about library card holder statistics, numbers for metro gross domestic product, and per capita expenditures on road maintenance and operations.  Read the issue. 

Tech Opportunities and Resources

Tri-Cities Economic Gardening Program

The Tri-Cities, WA Regional Chamber of Commerce is offering the Tri-Cities Economic Gardening Program—the first of its kind in the state.  Five second-stage businesses from the Tri-Cities community will be selected to engage with the National Center for Economic Gardening’s “National Strategic Research Team”—a team of specialists from across the company that will deliver services at no cost specially tailored to each business.  Businesses that apply should be for-profit, privately held companies based in Benton and Franklin counties; have between $1M and $50M in annual revenue or working capital in place from investors or grants; and employ 10 to 99 fulltime equivalent employees, including the owners.  Battelle and Gesa Credit Union are supporting this program.  See a full list of criteria and register.

Ocean Exchange Solutions Awards

Ocean Exchange—a company with the sole mission to help advance adoption of solutions in the field of sustainability—is seeking applicants for the 2017 WWL Orcelle® Award and the 2017 Neptune Award. Innovators are encouraged to apply who have solutions (and working prototypes) in materials, devices, processes, and systems that impact sustainability and that generate economic growth and increased productivity, while reducing use of nature’s resources and waste.  Recipients will receive $100K for each award.  Applications are due July 31.  Learn more and apply.

DOE SBIR/STTR Phase 0 Tutorials

Tutorials to help small business prepare for this summer’s Phase 1 Release 1 Funding Opportunity Announcement are available on the Department of Energy Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer Phase 1 Proposal Preparation website.  The series of 36 tutorials include subjects such as types of businesses eligible for SBIR/STTR, talking to topic managers, preparing letters of intent, and components of a Phase I application.  These tutorials are offered by DOE’s Phase 0 Assistance Program to increase the number of high-quality SBIR/STTR proposals submitted by women- and minority-owned small businesses as well as small R&D firms in states with low submission rates to the program.  Learn more and view the tutorials.

Fuse Offers Variety of Events

Fuse SPC is the Tri-Cities’ first social purpose corporation that provides a shared work environment, community, and resources for the entrepreneurial, startup, artistic, and tech communities.  Fuse is offering the following upcoming events at the Fuse facility in Richland, WA:

  • July 8. Fuse Game Night! 6 - 10 pm.
  • July 12. At Risk Pollinators, Habitat Conservation, and Agriculture, 6 - 8 pm.
  • July 19. Pedal Power - Trading Wheels for Wings, 6 - 8 pm.
  • July 25.  Fireside Chat Series Featuring Kadlec COO, Lane Savitch, 6 - 8 pm.

These events are at no cost unless otherwise indicated.  Learn more about each event and register.  Learn more about Fuse SPC.

Classes Offered at Confluent

Confluent, a makerspace targeted to the arts and tech communities in Tri-Cities, WA, offers a variety of classes for members and non-members.  Located in Richland, Confluent offers memberships starting at $35 per month.  Classes include:

  • July 5. Full Stack Software Development Social, 6:30 - 8:30 pm.
  • July 8. Laser Cutting Tool Training, 10 - 11:30 am.
  • July 9 and 30. Laser Lab, 11 am - 5 pm.
  • July 16. Gelli Printing for Mixed Media, 1 - 4 pm.
  • July 19. Soldering 102: Surface Mounts, 6 - 8 pm.
  • July 23. 3D Printer Tool Training, 1 - 3 pm.
  • July 27 and August 24. Electronics Monthly (event for people who enjoy electronics), 7 - 9 pm.

Classes are at the Confluent facility.  See the full variety of classes offered.  Learn more about Confluent.

Upcoming Government Contracting Workshops

Washington Procurement Technical Assistance Center is a statewide organization dedicated to guiding companies through the entire process of applying for and fulfilling government contracts.  Washington PTAC offers no-cost workshops that help inform small business owners and others about aspects of contracting, including:

  • July 12. Meet the Buyer: Doing Business with the Hanford Primes and PNNL, 2 - 4:30 pm, Tri-Cities Business and Convention Center, Kennewick, WA.
  • August 8. Market Research for Government Contracting, 9 - 10:30 am, Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce, Kennewick, WA.
  • September 7.  Proposal Development Workshop - Kennewick, 10 am - noon, Tri-Cities Business and Convention Center, Kennewick, WA. 
  • September 20. Government Contracting Essentials, 9 - 11 am,  Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce, Kennewick, WA.

See the PTAC workshop calendar.

PTAC Webinars and On-Demand Training

Washington Procurement Technical Assistance Center offers no-cost resources for new and established businesses to prepare for interacting with the growing government procurement market.  PTAC provides access to previously recorded webinars addressing topics such as government contracting essentials and federal contracting questions.  The on-demand training covers subjects such as understanding solicitation and proposal development as well as estimating and bidding.  Access the webinars and on-demand training.

Tech Dates and Deadlines

SBIR/STTR Program Solicitation Schedule

The solicitation schedule for the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs is now available, with proposals due as follows:


PNNL This Month

UniEnergy Technologies, PNNL Honored with Green Chemistry Award

A grid-scale battery based on technology developed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has been recognized with a Green Chemistry Challenge Award from the Environmental Protection Agency.  Washington State-based UniEnergy Technologies—who licensed PNNL’s electrolyte chemistry technology that is part of UET’s advanced vanadium redox flow battery—received the award in partnership with PNNL under the challenge’s small business category.  UET and PNNL were honored during a ceremony in Washington, D.C. on June 12.  Learn more.

"Expert in a Suitcase" Cuts Power Bills 10% in Small Commercial Buildings

Sensor Suitcase, a portable case containing easy-to-use sensors and other equipment that makes it possible for anyone to identify energy-saving opportunities in small commercial buildings, has been licensed to GreenPath Energy Solutions and Cultural Quotient.  The technology, developed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, identifies cost-effective measures that save small building owners about 10 percent on their energy bills. Learn more.

PNNL Economic Impact Report Now Available

The report, “Economic Impact of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on the State of Washington in Fiscal Year 2016,” is now available.  The nearly 4,500-staff Laboratory directly and indirectly supported $1.3B in economic output, more than 7,000 jobs, and $550M in Washington State wage income from operations last year.  The state also gained more than $1.18B in output, more than 5,700 jobs, and $437M in income through closely related economic activities such as visitors, health care spending, spending by resident retirees, and companies with PNNL roots.  View the report.

Got News?

We invite your contributions! We will consider items that fit the mission of this publication, including your tech-related news, awards, and notices of upcoming events. Please send text and photos to or call (509) 371-6017.

Tri-Cities Tech Business Update is published by the Economic Development Office at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Each month, we send you an e-mail message, giving you the link of news, tips, awards, upcoming events, and other information about local technology-based businesses and organizations that support them. With business and community partners, our goal is to build and diversify the Tri-Cities economy—adding skilled jobs in primary-sector industries that bring in outside dollars. Currently, more than 1,100 tech-related businesses, investors, and economic development stakeholders subscribe to the newsletter, mostly in the Mid-Columbia area and the rest of the Pacific Northwest. This newsletter (RL-P00-009) supports DOE-Richland's vision for the future of the Hanford Site and surrounding area through the creation of research opportunities, new industries, and new business clusters