Microsoft Makes Moves, Cocrystal Collects Cash, Washington and Oregon Win Water-Power Grants, & More Seattle-Area Deals News

Even with the upheaval in the financial markets, there was no shortage of deals and other news from the Northwest in the past week. Biotech, software, media, and renewable-energy ventures were all represented.

—Seattle-based Cocrystal Discovery raised a $10 million venture round, as Luke reported. The round was led by The Frost Group, based in Miami, FL. Cocrystal plans to develop small-molecule drugs that stop viruses from replicating, initially focusing on hepatitis C and influenza.

—It was a busy week in Microsoft land. The Redmond, WA software giant officially opened its New England research lab in Cambridge, MA (which is now up to 33 full-time researchers), as Wade reported. Microsoft also teamed up with Seattle-based Cray to market a small, inexpensive ($25K) supercomputer that runs on Windows. Oh, and it pulled those TV ads featuring Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates, and unveiled its “I’m a PC” ad campaign featuring celebrities and regular people who use Microsoft products.

—Luke wrote about the departure of veteran tech journalists John Cook and Todd Bishop from the Seattle P-I, and their new home at the Puget Sound Business Journal. The PSBJ is creating a new website to cover technology news in the region; the site will launch in the coming weeks.

—Gilead Sciences, which is based in Foster City, CA, but has R&D offices in Seattle, failed to win FDA approval for its inhalable antibiotic for cystic fibrosis, as Luke reported. It is a blow to Gilead, which will need to either run an additional study or do further analysis of existing data before its drug can be cleared for sale.

—The U.S. Department of Energy awarded contracts to three teams of water-power researchers in the Northwest: Oregon State University and the University of Washington ($1.25 million), Public Utility District #1 of Snohomish County based in Everett, WA ($600,000), and Pacific Energy Ventures, based in Portland, OR ($500,000). The grants will support development and testing of wave and tidal energy technologies.

—The Seattle startup community has seen some interesting comings and goings. While Italian startup-design firm H-Farm has opened an office in town, and is one of the backers of social-shopping site Wishpot, two other startups have recently left town for San Francisco: DocVerse, which makes collaborative-document software, and Chatterous, a “multi-channel communication” service.

—Investors from Voyager Capital, Cascadia Capital, and McKinsey & Co. advised caution in the face of the Wall Street market meltdown. Alternative energy and cleantech may get hit hardest, they said, but with belts tightening, all companies big and small should think twice before trying to raise money.

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