SPOKANE — Washington State University has launched a new incubator to grow early-stage health care and life science startup companies.
Spinout Space in Spokane — also known as sp3nw — will offer startups assistance with grant preparation, operational and intellectual property support, and legal and marketing services in the Ignite Northwest building at 120 N. Pine St., according to a news release.
It also will provide startups with offices, lab space and an opportunity to interact with WSU faculty, a mentor network of established entrepreneurs and nearly three dozen consultants, investor groups and service providers.
The network of consultants and mentors will aid in the process of commercializing health care products, while driving economic and job growth in the region, according to the news release.
The Bank of America Charitable Foundation awarded sp3nw with a $250,000 grant that will go toward attracting and retaining biotech, pharmaceutical, diagnostics and medical device companies, in addition to building lab space in the Ignite Northwest building, which will undergo a rebrand to sp3nw in the coming weeks.
“There is long unmet need in the state of Washington for an entity like sp3nw to identify, support, incubate and accelerate early-stage life science and health care companies,” Glenn Prestwich, WSU president’s distinguished professor and director of sp3nw, said in a statement. “With Bank of America support and commitment to creating economic advancement across the state, sp3nw can now begin to spin out companies from WSU technologies, while also connecting emerging life sciences companies to WSU researchers and experts.”
The Bank of America funding is the largest anchor grant the company has made in Eastern Washington. The grants are intended to advance economic mobility by supporting nonprofit organizations serving education and workforce, community development and basic needs.
Additional sp3nw funding will allow the incubator to address critical entrepreneurial gaps throughout the state of Washington and in the life sciences sector.
The idea for a life science incubator was sparked in 2015 after Daryll DeWald, WSU Health Sciences vice president and chancellor, recruited Prestwich, a life science entrepreneur, consultant and inventor, to work with university faculty and students to develop products, services and projects.
“It became clear that if we were going to develop a model that was functional, it should have focus,” Prestwich said. “And doing it in Spokane — the second-largest city in Washington state and with a brand new medical school that had a health sciences focused in its research, as well as teaching functions — it seemed like the natural thing to do.”
It took about 15 months to conceptualize the life sciences incubator that has nearly 14 companies in its portfolio, Prestwich said.
Some of the companies include Crimson Medical Solutions, which is developing a color-coded holding device for intravenous lines to improve patient safety; Appiture Biotechnologies, which is conducting research and developing technology for early autism detection; and Zephyr, a WSU student startup that designed a mattress for people with mobility or sleep issues.
“Our mission is to take what we do in the research laboratory, get it to a business and have the business get it to the bedside or to the marketplace so that we really can change people’s lives for the better,” Prestwich said.
The goal is for sp3nw to be systemwide within WSU and expand its reach throughout the state via satellite sites at the university’s Pullman, Vancouver, Tri-Cities and Everett campuses, Prestwich said.
Sp3nw also has cooperative agreements with Boise State University, University of Montana, University of Idaho and North Idaho College to broaden outreach and impact of WSU technology in the region.