Portland, OR startup, Torch 3D, raises $3.5M

Credit: Geekwire, Taylor Soper

Designing 3D concepts for virtual and augmented reality apps and programs can be a time-consuming process. Now two former Magic Leap engineers have come up with a way to help.

Paul Reynolds. Photo via Torch 3D.

Portland-based Torch 3D today announced a $3.5 million seed round led by The Venture Reality Fund and Silicon Valley Data Capital. Additional investors include Seven Peaks Ventures, GVR Fund, Presence Capital, Antipodean Ventures, Jerome Capital, and TWB Investment Partnership.

Torch 3D builds software that helps users design 3D prototypes in virtual and augmented reality. It also provides a way to manage assets and facilitate feedback amongst team members. Files can be accessed on any platform or device in real time.

The idea is to make 3D prototyping fast and simple, even for those who aren’t technically advanced with VR and AR software development.


Microsoft Ventures launches global AI startup competition with top VC firms

Credit: Geekwire, Taylor Soper

In the latest sign of Microsoft’s continued investment in artificial intelligence, Microsoft Ventures announced today that it is teaming up with three venture capital firms from Seattle, London, and Israel to host a global competition for startups building AI-related technology.

Called Innovate.AI, the new competition invites companies to compete for $1 million in venture funding and $500,000 in Microsoft Azure credits that will go to each regional winner from North America, Europe, and Israel. A fourth “AI for Good” prize that includes $500,000 in funding and $500,000 in Azure credits will go to another startup.



OSU Advantage Accelerator finalizes date for Startup Showcase

Credit: OSU Advantage Accelerator

The Startup Showcase is a celebration of innovation and entrepreneurship brought to you by the OSU Advantage Accelerator. This year, the Startup Showcase provides an opportunity to learn about emerging technologies from Oregon State University, hear stories from local entrepreneurs, and network with professionals in our community.


Cascade Angels invests in call-center software

Credit: Bend Bulletin, Bulletin Staff Report

Cascade Angels announced Thursday an investment in call-center analytics software Topbox.

The sum of the investment, made by Cascade Angels Fund 2017 LLC, was not disclosed, but the Bend-based fund typically invests $100,000 to $250,000 per company.

Topbox, which has an office in Portland, says its software “reveals the source of friction points” in customer and buyer experiences.

Cascade Angels has invested in three other firms this year and will likely invest in one or two more before the end of 2017, spokeswoman Natalie Dent said. The Bend-based angel fund has invested a total of $2.5 million in 17 companies since 2014.

Dept. of Commerce backs Willamette Valley Seed Fund.

Credit: Portland Business Journal, Malia Spencer

Work to create a new angel fund in Oregon got a boost this week after with the Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network landed $300,000.

The U.S. Department of Commerce money will back administration costs of the new Willamette Valley Seed Fund, said fund manager and RAIN Executive Director Marc Manley. The pool was created this year under the temporary name W2 Fund as a companion to the Willamette Angel Conference, an event that allows investors to pool their money and then select a startup for investment.

“After the 2016 Willamette Angel Conference … a core group of investors, myself included, started meeting to explore a way for us to help close the capital gap in our region, and provide funding not just to the winner of a beauty contest but provide capital all year,” Manley said.

The group had targeted $250,000 for an initial fund. To date, it has secured $480,000. Manley expects the figure to hit or exceed $500,000.


Oregon electric vehicle maker Arcimoto raises nearly $20M

Credit: Seattle Times, Associated Press

Arcimoto, an Oregon-based electric vehicle company, raised nearly $20 million in a recent initial public offering and its founder says the firm is on track to deliver its first vehicles to customers this year.

Arcimoto shares will begin trading Thursday on Nasdaq under the ticker symbol FUV. That stands for “Fun Utility Vehicle,” which is how the company describes its vehicles with seats for a driver and one passenger, three wheels and motorcycle handlebar-style steering.

The price of the company’s base model price is $11,900 — about a third of the price of a typical electric car, the company said.

At 1,000 pounds (454 kilograms), the vehicles are about one-fourth the weight of a standard car. They’re also much smaller. Three fit into a typical parking space.


Johnson & Johnson acquires Portland startup, Sightbox

Credit: Geekwire, Taylor Soper

Only two months after raising a $2.4 million funding round, Sightbox has been acquired.

The Portland-based startup just sold to healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson and its Vision Care operating company. Terms of the deal were not disclosed; Sightbox will continue operating as a separate business.

Founded in 2015 by CEO Travis Rush, Sightbox sells contact lenses with a membership model that charges users $39 each month for an annual eye appointment and contact lens fitting, along with a 12-month supply of contact lenses of their choice. The monthly membership fee is the same price regardless of what kind of contacts a member orders, or where they get their eye exam. The company also books appointments and fills prescriptions for members.



Innovators Wanted. University of Oregon announces Innovation Summit

Credit: University of Oregon Innovation Summit

Celebrating innovation & entrepreneurship at the University of Oregon & beyond

Join us as for a one-day, interdisciplinary festival as we highlight innovation among our students, faculty, and alumni, as well as, the wider Eugene community and connect participants to ideas, resources and one another to advance entrepreneurial knowledge, opportunities and shared pursuits.

 The UO Innovation Summit is an organized set of activities that will include speaker presentations, interactive exhibits, skill-building workshops, pitch competitions, hackathons, performances, film showings and art exhibitions all under the theme of ‘Innovation’. Activities will highlight the latest trends and thought-leadership across a range of disciplines including Science, Technology, Media, Social Justice, Global Issues, Arts & Literature, Sports, Music, Environment, Gender and Sexuality and Business.

 We invite all members of the UO and Eugene/Springfield communities to submit creative and compelling proposals.

Microsoft backs Seattle-Vancouver high-speed rail study as Cascadia conference aims to deepen ties between regions

Credit: Geekwire, Nat Levy

Pacific Northwest business and political leaders on both sides of the Canadian border announced today a series of agreements to strengthen relationships between Seattle, Portland, Vancouver B.C. and the surrounding areas.

The new partnerships, made ahead of the second Cascadia Innovation Corridor conference in Seattle this week, focus on technology, economic development, education and transportation. Government officials, universities, companies and research institutions are participating in the effort, which is meant to bring together the regions that have a lot in common but are separated by an international border.

Here is a look at some of the new agreements announced ahead of the conference this week:

  • One of the most intriguing ideas that came out of last year’s conference was a vision to build high-speed trains that would travel between Seattle and Vancouver in less than an hour. That idea is still alive and well. Microsoft kicked in $50,000 to supplement the state of Washington’s $300,000 budget to study the plan.
  • The Global Innovation Exchange, a partnership between the University of Washington Tsinghua University in China, has added a third university to its program: University of British Columbia. The graduate technology school is housed in Bellevue, Wash. and will welcome its first class this fall. Microsoft chipped in $40 million for the school, which will be taught by teachers from UW, Tsinghua and now UBC. Students have the opportunity to spend time at each campus.
  • One of the most complicated parts of building a multi-national innovation partnership is financing. The Seattle-Vancouver Financial Innovation Network, with support from Microsoft and Madrona Venture Group, was formed to overcome those issues. The aim is to bring together investors, tech companies and regulators to establish an “international financial center” that makes it easier for investors on both sides of the border to pour money into tech companies.
  • Lake Washington Institute of Technology, British Columbia Institute of Technology and Oregon Institute of Technology will come together to build common curriculums and expand professional opportunities for students in the STEM fields throughout the corridor.
  • A new startup accelerator program covering Washington, Oregon and British Columbia will include business incubators, accelerators and universities initially with the possibility of adding venture capital firms and other innovation partners.

The inaugural Cascadia conference last year in Vancouver looked at how Seattle and Vancouver could work together to become an innovation hub through sessions on government leadership, education, transportation and investment. This year the scope is broader, including Oregon and representatives of other Northwest institutions. Microsoft has been a driving force in the cooperation between the regions, as well as the Cascadia conference, after opening a big development officein Vancouver last year.


Beaverton, Oregon incubator has far reach

Credit: Pamplin Media Group, Beaverton Valley Times, Mandy Feder-Sawyer

Interest about a Beaverton program was recently noted by a group from the Middle-East that would like to use the program as a model.

The Oregon Technology Business Center Virtual Incubation Program, supported by the city of Beaverton, welcomed a delegation from Saudi Arabia from Aug. 21 to 25. The delegation from the Islamic University in Madinah Saudi Arabia was at the Beaverton-based facility for business incubator training.