Gregoire’s Innovation Man, Rogers Weed, Gets Marching Orders for New State Strategy

Xconomy Seattle — 

Gov. Chris Gregoire wants to light a spark for innovation in Washington state so much that not only did she hire a Microsoft executive to run a key state agency, she’s supporting legislation to make him craft a new strategy for stimulating the technology and life sciences industries in the state.

Rogers Weed, who discussed his cabinet-level role as the new director of the state’s commerce department in this interview with Xconomy on Wednesday, is being asked to come up with the new game plan, according to Pearse Edwards, a spokesman for the Governor. A bill to make this happen, Senate Bill 6015, sets a deadline of Dec. 1 for the new plan.

Specifically, the legislation calls for Weed’s department, called Community, Trade, and Economic Development, to report to the Governor and legislature “on how the state can best encourage and support the growth of innovation in the development and commercialization of proprietary technology in the life sciences and information technology industries.” This includes finding ways to provide more capital for startups at the very early stages of development, examine regulations that might get in the way, review tech transfer policies at local research institutions, and identify infrastructure needed to support companies at various stages of the business life cycle. It has passed both houses of the legislature.

“We are supportive of the legislation,” Edwards says. “Washington has many strategic advantages, including our skilled work force, great quality of life, and a solid infrastructure. We need to recognize that the global economy is more competitive and businesses are more mobile. The effort described in this bill will help us leverage our investments.”