New Life in Life Sciences


When more than a thousand people, including nearly 100 foreign delegates from such distant places as Sweden, China and Japan, descended on Seattle in March for the 11th annual Life Science Innovation Northwest conference, they created an important milestone for the region’s biotech sector.

“This shows the growing interest in our biomedical industry,” says Chris Rivera, president of the Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association, who notes that attendance at the conference was up 50 percent from 2010.

The life sciences industry in Washington is already the fifth-highest provider of employment in the state, responsible for 22,000 direct jobs and 55,000 indirect jobs in 2009, according to the Washington Research Council. Rivera says the industry contributes $10.5 billion to the state economy. Exports reached $1.2 billion last year.

Strong research institutions such as the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington are keys to this success. So are a rising entrepreneurial spirit and a continuing record of achievement: Seattle Genetics raised $178 million in February, while Dendreon’s new cancer treatment is seen as being among the nation’s most exciting new developments.

Nevertheless, Rivera says the biggest obstacle to growth is access to capital. Biotech venture capital investments nationally have declined by more than 10 percent a year between 2007 and 2010, according to Bloomberg. Some help could be on the way in the form of Wings, a nonprofit angel group focusing on investments in biomedical devices. WBBA also offers pro bono assistance for startups in the life sciences industry; Rivera says it nurtured 50 startups last year that are now viable entities.

The 2016 Washington Manufacturing Awards: Legacy Award

The 2016 Washington Manufacturing Awards: Legacy Award

Winner: Belshaw Adamatic Bakery Group
Legacy Award
Belshaw Adamatic Bakery Group
Auburn ›
When it’s time to make doughnuts — or loaves of bread, or sheets of rolls — it could well be a Belshaw Adamatic piece of equipment that’s turning out the baked goods. From a 120,000-square-foot plant in Auburn, Belshaw Adamatic produces the ovens, fryers, conveyors and specialty equipment like jelly injectors used by wholesale and retail bakeries.
The firm’s two legacy companies — Belshaw started in 1923, Adamatic in 1962 — combined forces in 2007. Italy’s Ali Group North America is the parent.
It it takes work to maintain a legacy. A months-long strike in 2013 damaged morale and forced a leadership change. Frank Chandler was named president and CEO of Belshaw Adamatic in September 2013. The company has since strived to mend workplace relationships while also introducing a stream of new products, such as a convection oven, the BX Eco-touch, with energy saving features and steam injection that can be programmed for precise times in baking. The company energetically describes it as “an oven that saves time, reduces errors, makes an awesome product, and is fun to use and depend on every day!”
So far, more than 3,000 have been installed in quick-service restaurants, bakeries, cafés and supermarkets in the United States. They are the legacy of Thomas and Walter Belshaw, former builders of marine engines, who began producing patented manual and automated doughnut-making machines in Seattle 90 years ago. They sold thousands worldwide and, today, Belshaw Adamatic is the nation’s largest maker and distributor of doughnut-making equipment.