Frequently Asked Questions

How do I contact you to find out more?

Contacting us is easy!  You can email us at lsmith@nwirc.com or call 360-255-7870.

Who have you helped?

The NWIRC has been around for four years and in that time we’ve helped many entrepreneurs and inventors launch their products and businesses.  Check out our Startup Stories to see who’ve we’ve helped.

What do you charge?

The NWIRC does not charge a fee for its services.  As a non-profit organization we depend on donations rather than fees or membership dues.

I see your offices are in Bellingham, do you work in other places?

The NWIRC has a mission to help strengthen the economy in NW Washington.  While our office is located in Bellingham we work work individuals from Snohomish, Skagit, San Juan, Island and Whatcom counties.

How long have you been around?

The NWIRC was started in 2011.

Who is the NWIRC?

The NW Innovation Resource Center (NWIRC) is a 501(c)(3) that was set up to create economic opportunity and jobs through supporting innovation with the intent of connecting start-up businesses to resources that can help them grow. There is no other organization that offers the full range of customized services in the NW region. You can see who our current Executive Director, Staff and Board Members are on our About page.

For Entrepreneurs

Do I need to have a business started before talking with you?

No, it is not necessary to have an existing business before talking to us.  We work with you at whatever stage you are in building your business, whether it is an idea or a full formed corporation.

How do I contact you to find out more?

Contacting us is easy!  You can email us at lsmith@nwirc.com or call 360-255-7870.

How are you different than other entrepreneurial help organizations?

The NWIRC has a focus on supporting pre-startup and early stage startup businesses with highly innovative ideas.  Each of the entrepreneurial support organizations in NW Washington have important roles to play in supporting business owners in the local area.  We often work with these organizations to help entrepreneurs utilize all the local resources available.

For Inventors

Do I need to have a patent before meeting with you?

It is not necessary to have a patent before talking with us about your idea.   We can help connect you to local patent attorneys who can help you through the patent process.

How advanced does my idea need to be before seeking NWIRC assistance?

The NWIRC can help any inventor who has just an idea to a working prototype or even an already manufactured product.  We work with you at whatever stage your business is in and help you develop a road map to get to where you want to be.

How do I contact you to find out more?

Contacting us is easy!  You can email us at lsmith@nwirc.com or call 360-255-7870.

How are you different from other invention help organizations?

The NWIRC is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping inventors and other entrepreneurs bring their business or product ideas to life.  Our services focus on helping you develop a strategy to get your product idea to market or launch your new business.  When you meet with us, we take the time to evaluate your idea, identify tools and resources you will need and a community of business mentors to ensure your strategy is sound.  Contact us to find out more about our services, mentors and programs.

I think I want to license my product, do you do that?

We can help you in many aspects of determining if licensing is the right option for your product.  We will work with you to evaluate the product and identify potential licensors.  It is important for inventors to realize that licensing is not a one-size fits all proposition, every product is different and the resulting path to get a product to a licensor will be different as well.

How is my idea protected when I talk with NWIRC?

As an inventor you need to be cautious about sharing your idea, prior to getting any Intellectual Property Protection.  It is not recommended that you disclose any proprietary information without a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) or patent protection in place. When you work with the NWIRC we have confidentiality agreements we use to protect your idea when you are talking with us and our mentors.  Consult with your patent attorney to determine when you have enough protection in place to disclose your idea to other parties.