PULLMAN – WSU will provide research support in close collaboration with governmental agencies and economic development groups in four of the 11 Innovation Partnership Zones designated across the state earlier this week by Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire.
 
The new zones are meant to bring together businesses and research institutions to develop cutting-edge technologies and boost regional economic growth.
 
“We’ve seen what can happen when we bring together research, training and commerce, put them in a beaker and shake,” Gregoire said in announcing the 11 regional designations. “Innovation Partnership Zones will be powerful economic engines to support our regional economies.”
 
Two of the zones in which WSU is a partner – the Spokane University District Innovation Partnership Zone and the Pullman Innovation Partnership Zone – were also among five of the new IPZs selected to receive $1 million in state grant startup funding during 2007-2009. WSU is also a partner with the Port of Benton in the Tri-Cities and the Columbia River Economic Development Council in Vancouver, Wash.
 
“The creation of the Innovation Partnership Zone concept was valuable in getting Washington communities thinking strategically into the future about their strengths, and what kind of jobs and businesses they want in the new economy,” said John Gardner, WSU vice president for Economic Development and Extension. “Such thinking fits well with the economic development partner WSU can be.”
 
The initial funding is expected to be used by Greater Spokane Inc. within Spokane’s University District to help in developing a planned supercomputer cluster which would aid in a variety of biomedical and other research and by the Port of Whitman at the 96-acre Pullman Industrial Park to help found a nonprofit center dedicated to promoting green” data centers.
 
As a partner is in the Columbia River Economic Development Council’s Discovery Corridor Innovation Zone/Steinmueller Innovation Park, WSU will provide research support for semiconductor and micro-device design, IC manufacturing and processing, display technology and multimedia.
 
Working as part of the Port of Benton’s Tri-Cities Innovation Zone, the university will focus on research in sustainable development, with emphasis on integrated electrical-thermal production, solar dish generating systems, and commercial-scale fuel cells.