Bustling Win Expo offer shoes, robots and probiotics for roses

gazette-expo

At Wednesday’s Win Expo innovation conference you could celebrate the success of a 30-year-old Corvallis mainstay or observe a demonstration of a new technology that aims to increase the lifespan of batteries.

And you could watch a robot lob balls at high school students.

A typical night for the expo, which moved last year to HP Inc. from the CH2M Hill Alumni Center at Oregon State University.

 “HP has been a great sponsor,” said Anna Walsh of the OSU Advantage Accelerator and one of the lead organizers of the event. “We sold out all of the vendor booths earlier than ever. We might look at expanding to 50 next year.”

Regular attendee Soft Star Shoes might not fit the profile of a high-tech startup … until you take a closer look.

Jana DiSanti, who works in brand relations for Soft Star, noted that the company is “going against the grain by doing our manufacturing domestically. Lots of people are moving overseas.”

Soft Star, which is planning to move from Southwest Second Street in Corvallis to a new facility in Philomath in January, also is a high-tech player.

“We wouldn’t be here without the internet,” said DiSanti while noting that 95 percent of the company’s sales come from online customers.

Ever wonder why the Avery Park rose garden is looking so spiffy these days?

Matt Slaughter has the answer. His company, Earthfort has been selling the Corvallis Parks and Recreation Department a soil treatment that is the equivalent of probiotics for the roses since 2011. The roses previously had been treated with traditional fungai and insect control products.

 “Within a month the bees, spiders and ladybugs came back,” Slaughter said. “And the fragrance of the garden was wonderful.”
Slaughter, whose firm is on Western Boulevard in Corvallis, sells to customers as small as home cannabis growers, although he specializes in large-scale agricultural clients and also has worked with soils contaminated by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster in Japan.
 gt-expoEchemion, meanwhile, is hard at work trying to increase the lifespan of batteries. The project began at OSU with doctoral work initiated by Alex Bistrika. An LLC was formed in 2012, the name was changed once or twice, they incorporated in 2015 and “by early next year we want to start selling some product,” Bistrika said.

Bistrika, whose company is lodged on the HP campus, said both electrode makers and battery companies have expressed interest in the technology.

Also on display during a whirlwind tour of the expo:

• Crescent Valley High students wowed the crowd with their robot, which navigated ramps by using its “arms” and then burped out a ball to a waiting team member.

• HP showed off its new 3D printer.

• Shelter Works of Philomath  featured Faswall, its lightweight building blocks that are made primarily from mineralized wood chips.

• A zone for “young innovators” also drew a big crowd.

Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@gazettetimes.com or 541-758-9542. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

 ***

Innovation Expo Expands

By James Day, The Corvallis Gazette-Times

November 6th 2015

Jordan Bergstrom, center, with Valliscor, talks about the compound the company produces that goes into anti-allergy medicines during the WIN Expo at the HP campus on Thursday. Company scientist Raj Lingampally is at left.Jordan Bergstrom, center, with Valliscor, talks about the compound the company produces that goes into anti-allergy medicines during the WIN Expo at the HP campus on Thursday. Company scientist Raj Lingampally is at left.
November 05, 2015 8:00 pm

The WIN Expo innovation extravaganza, which moved this year from the CH2M Hill Alumni Center to the Hewlett-Packard campus, still offers the same mix of start-ups and gizmos with a new adventure around every corner.

There just seemed to be more of it this year.

Expo organizers put the cavernous Microproducts Breakthrough Institute building to good use, with multiple wings of exhibit space and a “main stage” set of presentations that gave the event the feel of a music festival.

And it was a younger crowd that gave a boost of energy to the proceedings. Sixth-grader Kailey Gurr demonstrated electricity principles using lemons and potatoes, the Crescent Valley High School robotics team fired up its latest model and the OSU 3D Printing Club was on hand mass-producing building blocks.

“The system is open and accessible,” said James Knudsen of the OSU club as the printer carved out toy pieces while looking for all the world like a remote-controlled sewing machine.

“That’s the point of the club. You don’t have to be a genius and you can get some really cool results.”

Here is a snapshot of other presentations and exhibits:

• Valliscor is trying to be corner the market in bromofluoromethane (BFM), which is a key component in anti-allergy medicines such as Flonase. Valliscor, which is headquarted in the MBI building, makes about 20 percent of the world’s BFM and is one of only two Western manufacturers, said Mike Standen, co-founder and chief operating officer.

The big market for BFM is in Europe and the compound usually is found in generic products.

“If you buy generic Flonase,” Standen said, “there is a good chance it will have BFM in it.”

How do they do it?

“It’s not easy stuff to make,” Standen said. “We have a trick … but we can’t tell you what it is or we’d have to kill you.”

Valliscor, which has been in business two-and-a-half years, expects to grow revenue by four to five times in 2015 and to double again in 2016.

• Smith and Williamson, which still operates out of a Corvallis garage, produces balloons used for atmospheric research. The company has picked up a pair of clients, helping NASA study pollution plumes off the coast of India and doing volcano research for the University of North Carolina.

• Robert Mauger of the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition economic vitality team was promoting “community public offerings,” a new concept in which small companies can sell shares of stock and securities without involving accredited investors, kind of a neighbor-to-neighbor “buy local” approach that bypasses banks and Wall Street.

• Brian Whiteside, president of VDOS Global, which flies drones mainly for environmental and energy clients, showed off aerial footage of its work surveying and inspecting oil platforms, utility pylons, solar panels, Corvallis quarries, forests near McMinnville and ice floes in Canada for a World Wildlife Fund project on bowhead whale migration.

“We’re a data company,” said Whiteside, whose firm does not own any drones. “This footage is the data we collect. It’s an exciting time. Drones are here and we’re in a unique place here.”

Contact reporter James Day at jim.day@gazettetimes.com or 541-758-9542. Follow at Twitter.com/jameshday or gazettetimes.com/blogs/jim-day.

WIN 2015 Sponsors

Footer WIN Expo

Screen Shot 2015-11-03 at 11.04.53 AM