When Derek Orr left Microsoft last fall to join Uber in its new Seattle office, he was one of a handful of Uber employees who ate lunch at a makeshift picnic table in a small Pioneer Square office.

LabConnect’s steady expansion stems from a canny assessment of an opportunity to improve how pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers conduct their clinical trials. The company recognized a need for better management of the clinical trial process, from identifying research laboratories that excel in certain areas to handling specimens and managing data.

"Death by Design" sounds like a Woody Allen film. It’s not.

It’s a documentary by Sue Williams, who has been making films in and about China for 30 years. And it’s kind of scary.

Seattle’s geek influx seems to be causing a “disturbance in the force.” The New York Times’ Timothy Egan worries that Amazon has become “a large foreign presence growing inside us.” At risk, old-timers say, is Seattle’s very identity as a culturally rich, economically diverse city.

After years of hype about virtual reality, it stands ready to move from The Matrix and Avatar into real life, with applications ranging from gaming to e-sales, from collaborative product design to remote surgery. What’s more, many companies in the Seattle region will reap the benefits.

OfferUp cofounders Nick Huzar, left, and Arean Van Veelen.

We all know the mother of invention. Nick Huzar’s necessity was finding a way to clear out a room for his soon-to-arrive baby girl. “My wife and I were at a spot where we wanted to have kids and when she said she was expecting, I kind of went into dad mode,” Huzar explains. “I remember standing in the doorway of this room, which was about to be my daughter’s room. It was just full of stuff and I’m thinking, ‘There’s got to be a better way to sell this stuff.’ It would take forever to sell it through existing channels.”

If the body is driven more by information than by chemistry, why not treat disease with information? This question led Matthew Scholz to biology, and, ultimately, to Immusoft Corporation, a Seattle company he founded in 2009.

The Tech Impact Awards recognize companies in Washington state that are using technology to have a significant impact on business, industry