François Baneyx has served as the University of Washington Vice Provost for Innovation and Director of CoMotion since 2019. The Charles W.H. Matthaei Professor of Chemical Engineering and an adjunct professor of Bioengineering, Dr. Baneyx is an internationally recognized authority on protein production technologies and the biological fabrication of advanced materials with applications in medicine, sensing, opto-electronics, and catalysis. For his contributions to these fields, he was elected to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (2013), the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (2015), the American Academy of Microbiology (2015), and the Washington State Academy of Sciences (2016).
As Vice Provost for Innovation, Dr. Baneyx drives and coordinates innovation activities, builds connections with the economic development community, and engages with industry, government, nonprofits, and the regional and global innovation ecosystems to shape the university’s innovation strategies. He directs CoMotion, overseeing intellectual property protection and licensing, training of a diverse entrepreneurial workforce, and funding and mentorship programs that support the creation, incubation, and launch of startups.
Dr. Baneyx also directs the Center for the Science of Synthesis Across Scales, a multi-institution Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the U.S. Department of Energy. He previously served in various leadership positions, including site director of the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (2004-2012), director of the Center for Nanotechnology (2005-2013), and most recently, chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering (2014-2019). He is the co-founder of Proteios, a University of Washington spinoff dedicated to reducing the cost and complexity of protein and therapeutic cell purification.
Dr. Baneyx earned a doctoral degree in chemical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin. He was a postdoctoral researcher at DuPont before joining the University of Washington faculty in 1992.
The mission of the UW Innovation Roundtable is to optimize UW’s technology transfer effectiveness, enhance an already vibrant innovation ecosystem, expand startup creation, and identify opportunities for private/public partnerships to advance the UW’s economic and societal impact. The Roundtable represents a cross-section of the regional investment and economic development community. It includes leading venture capitalists, angel investors, philanthropists, and innovation leaders from the public and private sectors. Innovation Roundtable members serve as UW innovation ambassadors in the broader community, providing connections and ideas that help advance the University’s innovation strategies.
Quality advice, connectivity with experts and policymakers, and input from diverse people, systems and cultures help Dr. Baneyx stay ahead of the curve. He drives efforts to position UW researchers and entrepreneurs for success as new initiatives are unveiled by Commerce, the Economic Development Administration (EDA), the NSF Translation, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP) Directorate, and the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H). In addition, he works with the UW’s government relations team and partners across Washington state and beyond to inform policy and support projects that foster economic prosperity. Dr. Baneyx hosts delegations from across the U.S. and around the globe to forge relationships, learn from alternative approaches, and help build a resilient innovation economy.
Increasing equitable access to, and representation in, entrepreneurship by historically excluded populations and communities is both a University and personal focus. As an immigrant to this country, Dr. Baneyx witnessed first-hand how education and innovation open the door to extraordinary opportunities. While these pathways should be accessible to all, both power and opportunities remain lopsided in the entrepreneurial world. And while some of the most creative innovations have been brought into the world by teams with diverse backgrounds, experiences and viewpoints, too few women and people of color embrace entrepreneurship. To remain a leader in the world economy, our region and our nation needs inclusive innovation driven by diverse talent. This is why we must intensify efforts to address racial and gender equity in entrepreneurship and build inclusive pathways for success and systems of opportunity for all.
Learn more about CoMotion’s efforts to promote diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility in innovation here.
On June 29, 1956, President Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, a massive investment in mobility that drove commerce, tourism, and prosperity across the entire continental United States. The interstate system also contributed to the decline of unconnected cities, divided once vibrant neighborhoods, and often unfairly displaced people of color. Today, our roadways are decaying, cars and trucks produce 22.4% of the greenhouse emissions that contribute to climate change, and traffic pollution has been correlated to childhood asthma and cardiovascular diseases.
There has been a lot of talk of late about how some companies are embracing remote work while others are gobbling up real estate, doubling down on an in-person post-pandemic future. Most academic researchers do not have a choice. Aside from responsibilities such as planning, coding, data analysis, and writing, which can all be done remotely, continued progress means gathering in physical labs where knowledge is shared and experiments can be performed safely and effectively.
I came to the U.S. from France in 1986 to begin my Ph.D. studies at the University of Texas at Austin. That same year, IBM introduced the first laptop computer, the FDA approved the first monoclonal antibody treatment, and the Soviet Union launched the first module of the Mir space station.
While the pandemic quieted the buzz of tens of thousands of students on our campuses, the UW research engine continued to roar. Our talented faculty won over $1.23 billion in federal awards during the previous fiscal year – more than any other public university in the nation. These awards are being used to explore uncharted territory, create new knowledge, and translate discoveries into innovations that feed our economy and make a difference in the state of Washington and beyond.
In 1854, Arthur Denny, a representative of the Washington Territorial Legislature, proposed that a pending voting bill be amended to allow “all white females over the age of 18 years” to vote. A single nay defeated his proposal, and it took 56 years for the State Constitution to be amended to grant all women the right to vote. It would take another decade for every woman in the United States to be granted this right.
As I look outside at the turning leaves, it is hard to come to the realization that we have now been working from home for more than six months and that a very different autumn quarter has started on a sparsely populated UW campus. The pandemic has imposed profound changes upon all of us. Like most crises, it has accelerated some trends and culled others.
When I last took proverbial pen to paper, the COVID-19 pandemic was taking hold in the U.S. Many of us were adapting to a new telework reality, and we were learning to jump from one Zoom meeting to another. In the background, a renewed focus on racial injustice and inequities was gaining momentum. I was keen to understand what effect these events would have on innovation. Would we see a decline in requests for our services? Would researchers’ interest in CoMotion’s innovation programs dwindle?
The expression “we live through unprecedented times” felt somewhat corny a few weeks ago. It now seems eerily adept at capturing the disruption we are all experiencing. As of this writing, 9 in 10 Americans are staying at home to help rein in the COVID-19 pandemic. Our staff is no exception. Like you, we have risen to the challenge, harnessing technology to telework and to remain productive while also juggling roles as teachers, coaches, counselors, and caregivers, when needed.
Watch François interview founders of successful UW startups that have launched with the help of CoMotion.