Rhapsody to Expand in Europe, Latin America

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Phone users in Europe and Latin America will soon have the option to sing along to tunes from Rhapsody, a Seattle-based online music store that pioneered the streaming on-demand music industry back in 2001. Today, Rhapsody has over 2 million paid subscribers and has discovered a new innovative business model to help drum up more business.

Last month, the company partnered with Bellevue-based T-mobile to offer its service at a reduced monthly fee of $4.99 (normally $9.99). The deal, called Rhapsody unRadio, has been a success and has led Rhapsody to pursue partnerships with international mobile companies. Rhapsody announced today that it plans to partner with SFR, France’s second largest mobile carrier, to offer their subscribers its service called “Napster Decouverte” (Rhapsody acquired Napster in 2011) for 3.95 Euros. It also announced a partnership with Telefonica Movistar, which has mobile customers in Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay. “Our recently launched radio service underscores our commitment to giving mobile music fans even more ways to discover and download great music,” said Paul Springer, SVP Americas and Chief Product Officer of Rhapsody International.

Rhapsody is a spin off of Seattle’s RealNetworks, which itself was founded by an ex-Microsoft executive. Another example of how Microsoft is truly an anchor company for the ICT industry in our region!



Seattle Cloud Software Company’s EU Project a Success

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Socrata, a Seattle-based cloud software company, has been having a busy and productive year. The company has been working with the European Commission on an open-data presentation project which was completed last week. The end result is an online data portal that visualizes the European Union Cohesion Policy funding program. Specifically, the portal allows EU citizens to better see and understand how 50 billion euros worth of investment is being used in each member state for infrastructure and environmental projects, using easy-to-use country specific maps, charts, and graphics.

This successful open-data project with the European Commission is a big deal for the Seattle company which has been expanding internationally more than ever. In the first quarter of this year, seven of Socrata’s 22 newest customers were from outside the US. And there are more opportunities to continue working with the EU as well as other government agencies around the world. “This partnership has tremendous potential, because the European Commission clearly understands that government in the 21st century can use open data to provide increased connection and quality of life for the people they represent and serve.” says Socrata founder and CEO Kevin Merritt.

Congrats to Socrata – another win for Greater Seattle’s world-renowned ICT industry!


Seattle’s Sensoria acquires new Italian investor

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Sensoria, a wearable technology development company based in Redmond, has just received a Series A Investment from Reply SpA, a design and digital media communications firm in Italy. In a new deal announced last Thursday, Reply SpA will acquire a 20% interest in Sensoria and will provide $5 million in funding for product development.

Sensoria specializes in developing products that using textile sensors to collect biometric data on the wearer – such as heart rate, step counting, calories burned, speed, and distance – which is then sent to a smartphone app in real time. The technology can even go so far as to detect your running form and give tips for how to improve it. So far Sensoria has created socks, T-shirts, and bras that have this embedded technology. It can be used by both amateur and professional athletes.

The partnership with Reply SpA will allow Sensoria to continue product development and testing with their European partners. The Italian company is particularly interested in improving upon Sensoria’s open development platform. “We are extremely excited to closely partner with Sensoria who has built the first truly open, wearable development platform…Together we can leverage the power of the Sensoria Developer Kit to reach out to business and technology leaders and deliver unique, meaningful and quantified experiences for our enterprise customers in an increasingly broader range of industries.”



International Activity Roundup

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Some of our region’s biggest companies have been making waves out on the global waters, and we’ve rounded them up for you!

Starbucks opens its first store in Colombia

Starbucks opening a new store is nothing new, the company has over 23,000 stores in 64 countries around the world. In fact it opens on average two new stores every day. But yesterday’s new store opening is significant for being the first one in Colombia – the country where Starbucks sources most of its coffee beans. Despite not having had a store in Colombia until yesterday, Starbuck’s relationship with the country goes way back. It started buying Colombian beans 43 years ago, when Starbucks was just one coffee shop in Pike’s Place Market. Today, Starbucks is the largest single buyer of Colombian coffee.

The new store, which is in the capital of Bogota, also has a neat distinction as the only Starbucks store that sells only locally sourced coffee. It is over 2,700 square feet and 3 stories tall. CEO Howard Schultz was on hand for the opening ceremony.

Amazon begins 2-day shipping in the United Kingdom

The much-beloved 2-day Amazon Prime shipping is coming to the United Kingdom, where shipments were previously arriving on average 3-7 days after ordering. Over a million products will be eligible for Prime immediately, with the hope of that increasing to 3 million by the end of the year. Overall there are approximately 120 million items for sale on Amazon’s UK website.

The launch of the 2-day delivery is another step by Amazon to establish itself as the #1 online retailer of choice in not just the UK but also in Europe. “This is another significant step towards what Amazon believes providing the best customer offering across Europe should look like,” said Xavier Garambois, Vice President Retail, Amazon EU Sàrl

Boeing and Washington State at Farnborough 

Boeing has been active at the Farnborough Air Show taking place this week near London, and tallying up airplane orders by the hundreds. To be more specific, it has 201 orders and commitments for new planes worth $40.2 billion. The largest order came from Qatar Airways which finalized an agreement to buy 50 of the 777-9X’s.

Boeing wasn’t the only one there – Governor Inslee and a delegation of aerospace companies from Washington State were also at Farnborough to promote the state’s industry and create partnerships. As we previously reported, Governor Inslee was able to announce the creation of a new flight center for Japan’s Mitsubishi at Moses Lake.


Mitsubishi to Build Flight Test Center in Moses Lake

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Due to its favorable airspace, resources, and proximity to the world’s largest aerospace hub, Japan’s Mitsubishi has chosen to set up shop and create a flight test center in Moses Lake, Washington. This is a big step for Mitsubishi, which has just recently completed Japan’s first commercial passenger aircraft in over 40 years, the Mitsubishi Regional Jet. With the help of both AeroTEC and the state of Washington, Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation will build a new flight test center that will lead to the development of new infrastructure and creation of jobs in Moses Lake. It will begin test flights out of Grant County International Airport which boasts long, non-congested runways.

Moses Lake, once a very rural area, is now growing rapidly and becoming a core center of heavy industry and high-tech manufacturing. Not only will the addition of the Mitsubishi bring valuable FDI to Moses Lake, but also create around 100 new Washington jobs for the flight-testing project and bring many Japanese pilots, engineers, and technician to the area.

Mitsubishi has joined ranks with the Seattle- based AeroTEC Company, which will provide technical support for flight-testing and aircraft certification services. AeroTEC and Washington State have also invested in helping build a new hanger at the airfield in Moses Lake for Mitsubishi. This hanger will be important in the future of Moses Lake because once Mitsubishi has completed their projects the hanger will be rented out to other aerospace companies for continued use. “Having Mitsubishi join ATA, the aircraft-modification company, at the Grant County International Airport is going to be another jump forward in our ability to support large-scale aviation services,” stated the executive director of the Port of Moses Lake, Patrick Jones.

The announcement was made today at the Farnborough Air Show in London, where Governor Jay Inslee and a Washington State delegation are currently promoting the state’s aerospace industry.


UniEnergy Technologies Leading the Energy Storage Movement

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

Greater Seattle and Washington State has been a prominent pioneer in the global clean tech industry, boasting the largest state trade association of cleantech businesses in the U.S. (WCTA), the world’s greenest building (Bullitt Center), and a #1 ranking for hydroelectricity production in the nation. So it comes as no surprise that a local company is leading the way on developing solutions to adapt to climate change. UniEnergy Technologies (UET), based in Mukilteo, produces large-scale energy storage systems using its advanced vanadium flow battery –  which is able to store large quantities of renewable and other energy and deploy it when and how most useful to the electric grid or micro-grid.

On Tuesday at an awards announcement by Governor Inslee at UET, it was announced UET has been selected under the Washington State Clean Energy Fund to provide and install batteries for two utility companies in the state. UET will install a 3.2 megawatt-hour flow battery at Washington State University’s campus in Spokane in partnership with Avista Utilities, and will install a 6.4 megawatt-hour flow battery in Everett in partnership with the Snohomish County Public Utility District No.1. These projects are part of a larger Washington State effort to create smart, modern and renewable energy grids throughout the state.

A closer look at the Uni.System developed by UET

One of UET’s main investors is the Dalian Bolong Holding Company in China, which has invested in a portfolio of energy storage companies including one of the largest suppliers of vanadium electrolyte. This gives UET a competitive advantage in having a secure supply of a key component of its Uni.System battery.

The founders of UET, CEO Gary Yang and CTO Liyu Li, helped create the technology for the battery while working at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Washington – one of only ten federal laboratories in the U.S. Both of the founders are Chinese-born U.S. citizens.


UW’s C4C New Ventures Facility Receives Global Recognition

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Developing a strong start-up culture and industry has become a vital part of almost every globally-competitive city or metropolitan region – it fosters innovation, draws in talent and venture capital, and can lead to the next big business. And one of the keys to developing a start-up culture is having strong academic and research support from the top universities in the area.

Recognizing this early on, the University of Washington launched the Center for Commercialization (C4C) in 2005 and since then it has supported more than 100 projects. But two years ago the C4C really ramped up its efforts, opening up a large new ventures facility and dedicating more resources. The added efforts have paid off, from June 2013-June 2014 the C4C has spun out a record 18 start-up companies – compared to 7 in 2008.

As a result of this latest accomplishment, the C4C has been awarded as the “Most Promising” business incubator in the world by the 2014 University Business Incubators Global Index (UBI Index). The UBI Index is a global leader in business incubator research and development based in Stockholm, Sweden. It partners with over 300 incubators in over 60 countries for this comprehensive benchmarking initiative. The co-founder of the UBI Index, Dhruv Bhatli, noted in a press release that “In its short tenure, C4C has provided exceptional quality to its clients, produced growth companies and high economic impact for the region.”

This is a great recognition for the UW and continued success is likely. The C4C facility continues to grow – by the end of the year there will be over 20,000 square feet of office and lab space for UW startups to take advantage of.


Boeing Delivers New 787-9 Dreamliner to Air New Zealand

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

Boeing is manufacturing and distributing airplanes stronger than ever. On Monday, the company contractually delivered the first 787-9 Dreamliner to Air New Zealand, the official launch customer for the new model of planes. The 787-9 is the second version of Dreamliner’s created, making New Zealand the first airline to acquire the model.

Over 26 customers have ordered this model of the new Dreamliner, which can carry up to 280 passengers and is 20 feet longer than the previous model. One key feature that this aircraft improves on is the friction-reducing “laminar flow” technology, which improves the airflow smoothly over curved surfaces of the aircraft. Another important improvement is that it has a longer flying range, around 450 more miles than the 787-8. This improvement is vital due to the increasing need for long-range flights.

Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner documented Boeing’s progress with Air New Zealand at the Trade Development Alliance’s Annual Dinner last week. He briefly stated, “Boeing is proud to have contractually delivered the first 787-9 Dreamliner to Air New Zealand. We look forward to celebrating the milestone with our customer soon.” Boeing’s high tech technology and development has been not only appreciated in the Greater Seattle area, but also internationally by creating more sustainable, faster airplanes that are available to customers all over the world.


Facebook, HBO Expanding Presence in Greater Seattle

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Greater Seattle’s ICT industry is as strong as its ever been – so much so that big-name companies from Silicon Valley and New York have not only opened offices here but are expanding.

Both Facebook and HBO have announced plans to expand their offices in Seattle, crediting the wealth of ICT talent available here. HBO, which opened an engineering office here last year to focus on developing the company’s HBO Go service as well as other R&D projects, has already grown to 55 employees. Their chief technology officer, Otto Berkes, noted in a Geekwire interview that the office’s growth here has exceeded expectations, saying that “Seattle is an incredible source of very strong software technology talent.” HBO plans to double the size of their operations by the end of the year to 100 people.

Facebook has been in the region for a few years now and has already undergone an expansion phase 2 years ago. Now at 400 employees, Seattle is home to Facebook’s largest office outside of California. It looks like that was still not enough, as new reports surfaced last week that the company is looking for more office space to the tune of up to 100,000 square feet. A real estate source has noted that Facebook is considering the top 2 floors of the Macy’s building in downtown Seattle, which could potentially host 500 workers.


Large Delegation of Ambassadors Visiting Greater Seattle

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

Greater Seattle welcomes today a delegation of Ambassadors from 34 different nations – a great opportunity to showcase our region and its top industries to a powerful global audience. The visit is part of the State Department’s “Experience America” trip, which has already brought ambassadors to 14 other US cities in recent years. This year, Greater Seattle was chosen thanks to “..the many business opportunities, technological advances and unique organizations based here.” said Jessica Andrews from the State Department’s Office of the Chief of Protocol. 

The ambassadors will have the opportunity to visit our industry anchors for aerospace and ICT – Boeing and Microsoft. They will also visit the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Bullitt Center, and the Future of Flight center. But the Trade Alliance is most pleased that this delegation will be able to participate in our Annual Dinner tomorrow evening, with the chance to meet with the region’s international business community – we urge all of you attending to greet these dignitaries, promote our region, and express our desire for partnerships and collaborations.

The ambassadors will be here until the 28th.