It’s hard to argue whether the jigsaw-powered slingshots,
complete with adapters, that 10-year-old Ronald Seubert designed made a
difference in the lives of the school buddies who bought them. The kids were
surely delighted with them.
But as a man, Seubert wanted to do something more to channel
his innate innovative and entrepreneurial spirit to guide him in his
At first, he took an engineering job at the Boeing Co.,
which allowed him the free time to take on several side projects, such as
importing pistachios and developing a gambling machine. But after just three
years with Boeing and after starting a couple of moderately successful
businesses, it was time to do something that had real meaning. He wanted to
explore technology and develop something that might have a more lasting effect
than his slingshots. That was the notion behind Applied Precision, the company
Seubert started in 1986; it would become a leader in the development,
manufacture and supply of high-performance imaging and analysis systems for the
life science industries.
The goal of the company was to “do the right thing,” Seubert
says. The business would develop technology to help scientists research and
understand things at a level never before available. It began with the
semiconductor equipment market in 1989 and led to life sciences in 1995, when
the firm introduced its high-end fluorescent imaging systems.
Seubert has only just begun. Now, he and Applied Precision
are looking for increased resolution, faster imaging and precision
instrumentation in research and diagnostics as each new advance facilitates
research. “The more we understand the exquisitely complex world of the cell,”
Seubert says, “the more we realize how much there is still to understand.”
Chairman and founder, Pathway Medical Technologies Inc.
During the 30 years of his entrepreneurial career, what has
guided Tom Clement is the development of technology that helps physicians help
their patients. Pathway Medical’s primary product is a device used to break up
blood clots. In 2004, when financing efforts fell flat and Clement had to lay
off every employee, he kept his focus on the bigger picture of helping
patients. With virtually nothing left, Clement and three volunteers worked to
secure financing and invested in machine shop and rapid prototyping
capabilities that would allow Pathway to respond quickly to market changes.
The strategy paid off. The business is now a world-class
manufacturer that adheres to lean manufacturing standards. In focusing on
helping doctors solve peripheral artery disease, Pathway’s rapid product
development and a novel clinical strategy to enter the United States market
quickly have distinguished it from the competition.
Dr. Ryo Kubota
President, chairman and CEO, Acucela Inc. (Bothell)
Ryo Kubota came to the United States from Japan when he was
in the fourth grade and didn’t speak a word of English. But by the very next
year, he had earned the highest marks on the English composition test in his
class and was even asked to skip a grade. Such determination and hard work saw
him into adulthood, where he is now a world-renowned ophthalmologist, the
discoverer of the glaucoma gene and the founder of Acucela, a Bothell-based
biotech firm using its understanding of visual cycle modulation—the process of
altering the visual cycle or the biological conversion of a photon into an
electrical signal in the retina—to treat human diseases such as dry age-related
macular degeneration. The company is currently developing a drug that is
showing early-stage promise in helping visually challenged patients. Acucela
has also secured venture funding and a strategic partner, Otsuka
Pharmaceutical, to help advance its efforts.