Fuse SPC in collaboration with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Washington State University Tri-Cities (WSUTC), and Gravis Law is announcing a successful Launch Weekend Challenger that took place on the WSUTC campus May 18th – 20th, 2018. Launch Weekend Challenger is a 52-hour team competition to commercialize technology. Starting Friday night, individuals and teams pitch ideas for potential applications of technologies, form teams around those ideas, and then work through the weekend to prototype, research, and validate their ideas, culminating in Pitch Night. At Pitch Night teams have five minutes to present their idea to a panel of judges and receive on the spot feedback, with the Top 3 teams each receiving a prize package worth over $15,000. Although this was the seventh iteration of Launch Weekend, this was the first time that the ideas centered around specific technologies and that the prize package included cash incentives and ongoing support from the entrepreneurial ecosystem. PNNL and WSU both put forth four existing technologies developed out of their respective institutions, it was up to the teams to select the technologies and build on their ideas.
At Launch Weekend Challenger six teams competed to be Top 3, 13 were mentors on-site to provide support and guidance, all 8 Principal Investigators were made available to share knowledge of each technology, and 58 champions of entrepreneurism attended Pitch Night, including the Judges: Adam Brault, Steve Anderson, and Alan Haggerty. The teams comprised a mix of serial entrepreneurs, chemical engineers, software developers, students, marketing strategists, graphic designers, and business owners. The Top 3 teams will now enter into a six-month exploratory phase to develop their ideas, initiate a business model, solidify team structure, and prepare for an 8-week pre-accelerator education course. The ultimate success for these teams is to incorporate and grow local, adding to the richness of local development and creation of high-tech jobs in the Tri-Cities.
The collaboration between Fuse, PNNL, WSU, and Gravis Law represents a groundbreaking join effort between public and private sector that has been years in the making. These four entities were crucial in the organization, oversight, and execution of Launch Weekend Challenger. The success of this event really lies in the partnership and goes beyond the weekend, including major support from the Port of Benton, the Tri-Cities Research District, and Pitch Night sponsor CG Public House. The end goal is economic development, job growth, and retention and creation of high-tech industry right here in the Tri-Cities. We will continue to cultivate and expand these partnerships, along with plans to run this commercialization challenge annually, in addition to Fuse continuing to run the typical “any idea goes” Launch Weekend in Fall 2018.
About Fuse SPC
Fuse, located in the heart of the Parkway in Richland, is a hub for freelancers, small business, entrepreneurs, community development, and high-impact educational events. Fuse was founded on a belief that development of business and community go hand-in-hand. It is our mission to champion and support innovation, education, and collaboration. Fuse is a business & community accelerator run out of a symbiotic co-working space that facilitates growth for those individuals and companies in the startup phase. Since its foundation in 2014 over 105 companies have launched out of Fuse; we have sponsored and hosted over 500 events, meetups, and programs; and are home to 14 small businesses and 170 members. We encourage a mutually beneficial environment where you can be your most productive. Because Interaction cultivates innovation.