A strengthening entrepreneurial presence and international cybersecurity changes could affect Spokane’s technology sector in the upcoming year, some industry professionals here say.
Megan Hulsey, entrepreneurial program manager for StartUp Spokane, a program of Greater Spokane Inc., says about 30 percent of the startups the organization works with have a technological component as a core part of their products.
That’s true across several industries, including entertainment, medical, and security startups, says Hulsey. Startups use technology for business ecommerce, phone applications, websites, and other purposes.
One such business that StartUp Spokane has worked with is Spokane-based Medcurity Inc., a health care company that deals with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act compliance, says Hulsey.
According to a recent Journal report, applications for a secure records compliance platform already are in high demand.
As of earlier this month, Hulsey says StartUp Spokane has worked with 314 startup companies in various stages of development so far this year. Hulsey expects that number will level out next year to about 300.
She says, however, “The interest in technology is continuing to grow, so I would guess that across the region we’re going to see a continued growth of technology as the backbone of business.”
Medcurity and other startups also have taken advantage of programs through CoMotion Labs, says Brady S. Ryan, CoMotion’s Spokane manager. Ryan describes CoMotion as University of Washington’s arm for innovation and technology in entrepreneurship.
In Spokane, CoMotion livestreams educational events, supplies coaches to mentor startups, and provides workshops, he says.
Ryan says he expects to see more startups that have tech elements in coming years.
One contributor to entrepreneurial growth, Ryan asserts, is Spokane-based, early-stage investment fund Mind to Market LLC. M2M provides investment earlier in the business cycle than other funds, thereby providing finances to help companies that would otherwise need more money to launch their businesses, he says.
Additionally, the close proximity of higher education institutions here can foster technology-related entrepreneurship, he says.
“There’s a lot that Gonzaga is doing … to help expose entrepreneurship to younger folks,” he says. “The Northwest Entrepreneur Competition out of Whitworth is also a great support structure for these startups.”
Having the support of technological infrastructure also enables entrepreneurial development, says Heather Stratford, CEO of Spokane-based cybersecurity company Stronger International Inc.
Separately, Stratford says privacy and security legislation within the U.S. and in Europe could affect local businesses that work with other companies and people from those areas.
“People within the United States are starting to demand—and there’s starting to be more legislation on—keeping records private,” says Stratford.
Cybersecurity compliance with potential and existing laws, such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation that went into effect earlier this year, will be a big conversation in 2019, asserts Stratford, and compliance changes affect multiple industries, educational institutions, and government agencies.
She also predicts Washington state eventually will enact its own cybersecurity laws.
Stratford says cybersecurity “needs to be a main agenda item for businesses in 2019. They need to take it seriously.”
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