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UW innovation accelerates in face of adversity

Written by François Baneyx / March 27, 2020

Business hand holding glowing light bulb against. 3d rendering

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.

CoMotion HQ might be empty but our Innovation Managers are handling a record number of disclosures, while intellectual property filings and license negotiations are proceeding at a fast clip. In addition, our Material Transfer Agreement group is processing an incredibly high volume of requests for COVID-19 positive specimens. CoMotion Labs @ Startup Hall and Fluke Hall might be closed, but our Labs members can still access mentor services and we continue to stream “Fundamentals for Startups” on Fridays at noon. What’s more, the work of the UW Innovation Roundtable is moving forward, we are solidifying plans to run the next offering of DubPitch entirely through Zoom, and there has never been a better time to delve into our extensive library of training videos to get expert advice and tips on startups and commercialization.

As innovators and entrepreneurs, you are used to being resourceful and creative, and you are adept at seizing opportunities and at pivoting quickly. In a recent piece published in Entrepreneur, Hamza Mudassir reflects on how black swan events tend to accelerate innovation and identifies tech opportunities that are well worth pondering. In our own backyard, Dan Rosen, Chair of the Alliance of Angels, wrote a survival checklist for startups LinkedIn post that is a must-read. And from low-interest loans from the Small Business Administration to expedited review of phase I SBIR/STTR proposals addressing COVID-19, new opportunities materialize every day. It is inspiring to see so many mobilize to tackle the pandemic. I predict that science and tech startups will make a real difference in these trying times and I know that we will all come out on the other side stronger than ever.

Be well!


François Baneyx
Director, UW CoMotion and Vice Provost for Innovation