When we opened our doors in 1981, our founders Tom Cable, Bill Gates, Sr. and Hunter Simpson were determined to use the recently enacted Bayh-Dole Act to its full potential to support research and scholarship in Washington state. Bayh-Dole allowed federally funded research institutions to retain ownership of their inventions and benefit from any resulting licensing revenue. Mr. Cable, Mr. Gates and Mr. Simpson found a way to capture the value of inventions coming out of the University of Washington and other nonprofit research institutions in the state: by licensing inventions from these organizations to companies that would use the technologies commercially, then returning proceeds to the originating institutions to fund additional research and scholarship. The private, independent Washington Research Foundation (WRF) was founded for this purpose.

The success of our licensing program created an endowment that enables us to provide grants to accelerate the development of the most innovative local technologies, thereby creating new intellectual property (IP) for commercial use. Our goal is to help much-needed products and services to reach the market and provide public benefit for the people of Washington state and beyond.

To date, we have earned more than $445 million for the University of Washington and other nonprofit research institutions in the state, and provided over $110 million in grants to accelerate the development of much-needed products and services. WRF Capital, our venture investment arm, has funded 107 local startups since 1994.

Working for Washington

To date, we have earned more than $445 million for Washington’s nonprofit research institutions through our licensing program and disbursed over $110 million in grants to our state’s top researchers, projects and students.

Supporting Innovation

WRF operates at the intersection of academic research, technology development, public and private investment, philanthropy and industry. We have a strong track record of supporting innovation in the life sciences and engineering, from early research to commercial production.

Investing in Startups

We have funded 107 local startups through our investment arm, WRF Capital, using our returns to invest in additional local startups and to support our grant-making activities.

The success of our licensing program enabled us to become one of the leading grant-making and investment organizations in the Pacific Northwest.

Meet our team >