The WIN Expo innovation extravaganza, which moved this year from the CH2M Hill Alumni Center to the Hewlett-Packard campus, still offers the same mix of start-ups and gizmos with a new adventure around every corner.
There just seemed to be more of it this year.
Expo organizers put the cavernous Microproducts Breakthrough Institute building to good use, with multiple wings of exhibit space and a "main stage" set of presentations that gave the event the feel of a music festival.
And it was a younger crowd that gave a boost of energy to the proceedings. Sixth-grader Kailey Gurr demonstrated electricity principles using lemons and potatoes, the Crescent Valley High School robotics team fired up its latest model and the OSU 3D Printing Club was on hand mass-producing building blocks.
"The system is open and accessible," said James Knudsen of the OSU club as the printer carved out toy pieces while looking for all the world like a remote-controlled sewing machine.
"That's the point of the club. You don't have to be a genius and you can get some really cool results."
Here is a snapshot of other presentations and exhibits:
• Valliscor is trying to be corner the market in bromofluoromethane (BFM), which is a key component in anti-allergy medicines such as Flonase. Valliscor, which is headquarted in the MBI building, makes about 20 percent of the world’s BFM and is one of only two Western manufacturers, said Mike Standen, co-founder and chief operating officer.
The big market for BFM is in Europe and the compound usually is found in generic products.
“If you buy generic Flonase,” Standen said, “there is a good chance it will have BFM in it.”
How do they do it?
“It’s not easy stuff to make,” Standen said. “We have a trick … but we can’t tell you what it is or we’d have to kill you.”
Valliscor, which has been in business two-and-a-half years, expects to grow revenue by four to five times in 2015 and to double again in 2016.
• Smith and Williamson, which still operates out of a Corvallis garage, produces balloons used for atmospheric research. The company has picked up a pair of clients, helping NASA study pollution plumes off the coast of India and doing volcano research for the University of North Carolina.
• Robert Mauger of the Corvallis Sustainability Coalition economic vitality team was promoting “community public offerings,” a new concept in which small companies can sell shares of stock and securities without involving accredited investors, kind of a neighbor-to-neighbor “buy local” approach that bypasses banks and Wall Street.
• Brian Whiteside, president of VDOS Global, which flies drones mainly for environmental and energy clients, showed off aerial footage of its work surveying and inspecting oil platforms, utility pylons, solar panels, Corvallis quarries, forests near McMinnville and ice floes in Canada for a World Wildlife Fund project on bowhead whale migration.
“We’re a data company,” said Whiteside, whose firm does not own any drones. “This footage is the data we collect. It’s an exciting time. Drones are here and we’re in a unique place here.”