Washington Research Foundation

OVERVIEW: This funder provides grants to students, faculty, and technology development programs for research, education, and recruitment efforts in the state of Washington.

FUNDING AREAS: Academic research, scientific research, Washington State

IP TAKE: Startup stage researchers in Washington have some good opportunities with this funder. Grants are often in the millions of dollars for individuals and groups that understand their technology’s commercialization potential.

PROFILE: The Washington Research Foundation (WRF) is based in Seattle, Washington, and supports groundbreaking technology in the physical, life, and information sciences. It funds early-stage entrepreneurs in Washington to grow the state’s technology economy. WRF was founded in 1981 by Tom Cable, Hunter Simpson, and Bill Gates Sr. It's one of the leading technology transfer organizations in the country and a leading venture capitalist in the Northwest.

With a statewide focus, WRF aims to bridge the commercialization gap, support researchers, and launch Washington businesses. There are three grantmaking programs at WRF: student, faculty, and technology development. WRF also makes gap funding grants for technologies and research with strong commercial potential. Recipients include the University of Washington, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Washington State University, Benaroya Research Institute, PNRI and Bloodworks Northwest.

Since 1993, WRF has awarded over $73 million in grants. It has also given out at least 211 fellowships since 1996 and through WRF Capital has invested in at least 70 companies. WRF Capital partners with in-state innovators, mostly at Washington research institutions. This is the place to come to if you’re looking to commercialize a promising technology. Investment areas include biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, consumer healthcare opportunities, enterprise software, internet-based solutions, and advanced materials and breakthroughs in diagnostics and scientific instrumentation.

WRF has awarded at least 74 commercialization grants totaling $2.7 million. Over 300 individual grants have been awarded to the University of Washington. Other support includes $10 million to Charles Murry and the UW Medicine team for Heart Regeneration Program research, $2 million to the Institute for Systems Biology to hire a big-data expert, and $28,000 to Dr. Les Atlas’ pilot research project about hearing enhancement. Yearly grant totals typically exceed $10 million. A list of other recent grants can be viewed here. Read grantee success stories on the WRF website to get a better sense of what they fund. WRF also awards postdoctoral fellowships to up to 10 scientists each year who want to advance startup companies in the state.

A grantseeker’s best contact is Beth Etscheid, Ph.D., director of research communication. Ronald S. Howell is the president and CEO, and there are nine staff members.

General questions can be directed to the foundation team at 206-336-5600 or info@wrfcapital.com. The address is 2815 Eastlake Avenue East, Suite 300, Seattle, Washington 98102. Keep up with the foundation's work and interests on its news section.  

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