There are unfortunately no South Sound companies in the running this year. (correct me if I am wrong) but there is one excellent South Puget Sound connection.
For those unfamiliar, the WSA is the largest state-wide association of technology companies and executives in the world.
With more than 1,000 member companies representing more than 80,000 technology sector employees in Washington State, WSA is a catalyst for setting new industry directions, sharing expertise, fostering collaboration, delivering key business services, and advancing the economic value and global impact of technology companies doing business in Washington.
I have been lucky enough to be one of the category judges in the past and this year as well.
This has always been a pretty amazing event, with keynote speakers from Google, Microsoft, Jeff Bezos from Amazon and this years 2008 keynote speaker Suzie Reider from YouTube.com.
The categories and finalist this year are:
Breakthrough Technology of the Year:
Next IT, TravellingWave and Zumobi
Business Product of the Year:
BioPassword Inc., Tableau Software, Inc. and Formotus, Inc.
Consumer Product or Service of the Year:
Picnik, Redfin Corporation and Yapta, Inc.
Service Provider of the Year:
Slalom Consulting, GrapeCity, Inc. and Ramp Group
Technology Innovator of the Year:
Fred Brown, founder, Next IT; Bryan Mistele, co-founder, president and CEO, INRIX, Inc.; and Brian Roundtree, co-founder and CTO, SNAPin Software
Best Use of Technology in the Government, Non-Profit or Education Sector:
eCityGov Alliance, King County District Court and Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
As I said, the only downside that I see to this year’s festivity is the absence of South Sound finalists. Last year, Tacoma Goodwill was in the running for best use of technology by a non-profit with its www.mygoodwillstore.com.
But there is also a new award this year for the "Technology Leader of Tomorrow". The finalists are selected from among students participating in the Technology Access Foundation's (TAF) TechStart program. All three finalists receive scholarships.
In November of 2007 The Federal Way School District finalized an agreement to open a TAF technology-based academy at a middle school in September of this year. Starting with 150 students this is good for potential students interested in entering the Institute of Technology's computer science and computer engineering programs, and is a nice complement to the Math Science Leadership program at the Institute as well.
Called the Technology Access Foundation Academy, it will focus on science, technology, engineering and math.
It will aim to reach students underrepresented in those fields, such as girls, African Americans, Latinos and American Indians, said Trish Dziko, the academy’s executive director.
The IAA information on the Technology Access Foundation.