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.


Alaska Professor Gets $75,000 Investment for Startup

Credit: Alaska Journal of Commerce, Naomi Klouda

An incontrovertible fact of Alaska life means black ice can spin cars out of control and winter snow dumps take up precious asphalt space meant for cars.


At least, that’s the accepted normal.


A new invention market-tested by University of Alaska Anchorage professor Joey Yang shows promise for help. Called Tundra Tape, it’s a technology buried in concrete that melts ice before it has a chance to form on sidewalks, parking lot pads and highway corners known as the most egregious culprits of black ice.


Tundra Tape, now with a $75,000 private investment infusion from the Alaska Accelerator Fund, is being marketed under the newly formed Arctic Heat Technologies Inc., formerly called CFT (Carbon Fiber Tape) Solutions.

Yang formed CFT in 2013 as a startup, but found as a full-time engineering professor he couldn’t also serve as a full-time CEO. His invention had turned into a business idea and in order to have a go at market success, it would need a new corporate structure.

The new investment allows just that: a business infrastructure to respond to market demands. Now construction contractors and others will be able to order Tundra Tape kits for specific projects.


“People were calling me left and right,” Yang said.

Even with a graduate student’s assistance, he wasn’t able to respond to the market inquiries that flooded in over the past two years.


Under the new corporate structure, Tim Allen will be president of Arctic Heat Technologies. He brings worldwide industrial product and marketing experience.

The initial board of directors will include Yang and University of Alaska Anchorage Vice Provost Helena Wisniewski along with Forrest Nabors, University of Alaska Anchorage assistant professor and Alaska Accelerator Fund member, and Carl Swanson, accelerator fund investor, who recently retired from Davis Constructors.



In this Aug. 28, 2017 photo, University of Alaska Anchorage professor Joey Yang, holds a sample of his Tundra Tape invention, which just received a $75,000 boost from the Alaska Accelerator Fund at the engineering building on the UAA campus in Anchorage. Tundra Tape is a woven carbon fiber that conducts heat to keep surfaces clear of ice and snow. The woven carbon fiber of Tundra Tape has a longer life that traditional water or glycol pumping systems to keep walkways clear in winter months. (Naomi Klouda/Alaska Journal of Commerce) The Associated Press


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.

What would it take for Tacoma to become a hub for high-paying tech jobs?

Credit: Tacoma News Tribune, Kate Martin

Amazon has raised the hopes of just about every city in the country, including Tacoma, when it said it’s looking for a suitable site for a second headquarters.

Don’t break out the champagne and balloons, Tacoma.

Tacoma likely won’t land the $5 billion building, and attracting even small tech firms can be a long shot.

The City of Destiny has things going for it — reasonable home prices and a well-educated workforce.


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.



Credit: Vancouver Economic Development Commission

The Vancouver Tech Showcase is a highly curated deal flow event designed to accelerate follow-on funding through deep dive sessions with investors.

In a departure from the typical showcase format of on-stage presentations, startups deliver their elevator pitches to small groups of investors before fielding questions. A portion of the evening is reserved for the investor community to share their investment theses and areas of focus to highlight co-investment opportunities in Vancouver.

Leading research shows a clear need for events like the Vancouver Tech Showcase: read more.

The Selection Process

Each startup in the Vancouver Tech Showcase has been rigorously vetted by an independent Selection Committee comprised of key early stage investors from BC Tech FundVanedge CapitalVancouver Founders FundScaleUP VenturesYaletown Partners as well as Highline BETA.

In addition to being Vancouver-based technology or technology-enabled-service businesses, each company in the showcase was required to meet additional criteria, including being high-growth, poised for seed- to Series A investment, and possessing measurable multi-month revenue streams. The Vancouver Tech Showcase also serves as the conclusion to the Discovery Foundation Capital Mentorship Program designed to better prepare local startups as they seek strategic investment opportunities.


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.