About Us

Get to Know the NWIRC

The NW Innovation Resource Center assists entrepreneurs to create, build and grow innovative businesses that strengthen the economic diversity of NW Washington.

Young business people are discussing together a new startup project. A glowing light bulb as a new idea.

Our Story

Where It All Started

Started in 2011, the NW Innovation Resource Center was formed by a group of business leaders who wanted to give back and support other entrepreneurs as they worked to build their startups.  10 years later, we’ve accomplished alot in serving entrepreneurs and building an innovation ecosystem in NW Washington.  


2014 Sustainability Challenge

One of the first challenges outreach challenges to the community.  The winner Apana is still going strong. 


2018 BuildIt NOW

Our first cohort designed for Inventors, with multiple graduates launching new products. 


2015 First Look Forum

Bringing a long standing NWEN program to NW Washington.


2020 Amazon Catalyst Competition

Working with Amazon and 8 cities to bring big ideas to life.

Who We Are

Our Team

Tom Doughty - NWIRC Board of Directors


Executive Director

Diane has a strong background in general management of both large corporate growth and the entrepreneurial start-up arena. In 1987, she founded Cintech Solutions in Ohio and served as the President & CEO. Since relocating to Washington, Diane has been working to facilitate entrepreneurial activities and support. She facilitated the establishment of the NW Agriculture Business Center to support development of value-add agriculture product businesses in a five county area in northwest Washington and was instrumental in the creation of the NW Innovation Resource Center.


Kimberlee Tully


Kim is a graduate of WWU and began her career as a federal auditor with the Department of Defense, performing and negotiating procurements and regulatory compliance reviews. This included examining the controls, policies and procedural methods of corporations and divisions, research and academic institutions and small businesses and inventors providing products and new technologies for the military and other public purposes. She traveled throughout the United States with duty stations in San Fransico, CA, Washington DC, and Dallas, TX.

Kim hails from Yakima, Washington originally and in 1997 she returned to the PNW, taking a position with the Washington State Auditor’s Office, and performed audits and compliance reviews of federal and state funds granted or levied to Counties, Cities, Universities and other public entities.

In 2000 she accepted a position as Yakima County’s Senior Grants Manager and later their Assistant Director of Community Services where she directly managed federal, state, local and philanthropic funded grants and agreements.

Kim moved to Seattle in 2011 to consult for King County to redesign its youth and young adult homeless servicing system and found working with large collaborative groups and developing strategic initiatives rewarding. This led to an opportunity to work for Solid Ground, a large multifaceted nonprofit in Seattle as its Strategic Information Systems Manager and develop their information systems network to collect and examine data related to the services and assistance, they provide the community.

In May 2023, Kim and her partner moved to Bellingham, WA and she is excited to support NWIRC in its growth and evolving infrastructure needs to achieve greater reach and expansion for its impacts now and into the future.

amy paquette


Data Analytics Program Manager

For over twenty years, Amy served many roles while serving at local and national nonprofits. As the newest member of the NWIRC team, Amy is a talented and accomplished professional with proven experience in spearheading innovative and strategic initiatives, relationship building, creating meaningful educational opportunities, and having a great time!


Jeremy Barney

Jeremy comes to the NWIRC after nearly 20 years of leadership experience, having led teams and run locations across a number of sectors. As the newest member of the NWIRC, Jeremy brings a diverse set of leadership and organizational abilities and is excited to utilize those skills in a way that helps people accomplish their goals!
Steve Cherewaty


TheLab Manager

Steve began his career in aerospace but has found a more natural fit in entrepreneurial projects. Experienced technician, thinker & founder of American Virtual Makerspace, Steve is a friend of the NWIRC and a growing fixture in the Seattle startup industry.

Our Board of Directors

grace borsari


Board of Directors

Grace is Owner and CEO of Altair Advanced Industries Inc. Founded in 1978, AAII is a certified Woman-owned Business Enterprise that produces standby power supplies for the cable TV and communications markets. As a member of the Alpha Group, AAII is a manufacturing organization serving all Alpha Group companies across the US and Canada. Also President: Argus Techologies; Altair Energy; Bravo Electric Vehicles; Alpha Distributors. In addition to involvement with Western Washington University, Grace has extensive flying experience and is a 25-year ski instructor veteran.



Board of Directors

Having spent over 20 years in the aerospace and defense industry, Andy has become a trusted business leader capable of delivering both tactical and strategic growth. As President and CEO of Deep Blue Strategic Advisers, Andy and his team provide exceptional technical acumen and ability to build strong relationships across organizations to develop strategies that drive organic and inorganic growth. His proven ability to identify, define and execute medium to large M&A transactions has seen him complete a number of deals ranging in size up to $4Bn. His strong understanding of IP and technology as a value creation driver, has led to proven results in delivering balanced investment decisions and business growth across a range of technical and manufacturing businesses. Andy has international experience across all levels of commercial and military OEMs and government entities and all levels of seniority up to c-suite and flag officers. Andy’s personal passion includes supporting STEM education and entrepreneurial growth for startups and small businesses focusing on technology and manufacturing.

personal weblink: www.andrewsbuchan.com
deepblue: www.deepbluestrategicadvisers.com

duffy cox


Board of Directors

Duffy is currently the president of Bon Dente International which specializes in new product development. His specific technical expertise includes food safety, food product development, neutraceuticals and pollution control. Duffy holds over 20 patents including a heat based pasteurization method for in-shell eggs and Ultra Rice, which was recognized with the Tech Award Laureate by the Tech Museum of Innovation as a technology benefiting humanity. In addition to his responsibilities at Bon Dente, Duffy provides consultation to international companies such as Monsanto, Owens-Corning, and Prax Air.

tom doughty


Chairman of the Board of Directors

Tom Doughty spent 36 years in operational, administrative and strategic leadership positions in both public and private sectors.    Tom excels at leading small & large groups, teamwork, organizational communication, and strategy development & implementation.  Tom enjoys mentoring young leaders, particularly in the areas of technology and resource management.  A graduate of The United States Naval Academy and a Naval Flight Officer and Designated Surface Warfare Officer, over the course of his 22 year Navy career, Tom had multiple shore, ship and squadron tours. Tom has been a member of numerous Advisory Boards and Committees, particularly in the area of Economic and Workforce Development in Skagit County.  He is an avid outdoorsman, skier, and fly fisherman.



Board Member

Guy Ellis is the Chief Operating Officer for Anavasi Diagnostics, a medical device startup company focused on developing an inexpensive, highly accurate diagnostics platform.

Over the course of his 30 year career, Guy has led numerous efforts to innovate and drive scale within growth-focused businesses. Guy has identified and created value from inventions in a variety of fields including legal (Weil Gotshal), networking (Cisco), invention investment (Intellectual Ventures), global health (GH Labs) and medical devices (Anavasi).

Guy has a passion for mentorship and feels that his greatest successes have been in supporting talented individuals in growing their careers.

ken marzocco


Past Chairman

Ken is a Mechanical Engineer who started his career at Gulf Oil. He moved into Project Management and has led conventional and alternative energy as well as, infrastructure projects throughout North and South America. Ken has had bottom line responsibility for a number of profitable companies with revenue up to $400 million per year. He is based in Bellingham where he is active in the local arts and business community having served as Chair of the Pacific Energy Association, President of Mount Baker Theatre, 2009 United Way Campaign Chairman, Rotarian and participant in numerous sporting events.

rod proctor


Board of Directors

Rod Proctor has over thirty years of experience managing technology companies. He has had leadership positions in product development, manufacturing, business development, sales and marketing. Rod has been the CEO of five technology companies. He is experienced in medical and wireless technologies and has seven patents in wireless data communications. Rod has provided consulting and mentoring to many turn-around situations and startup companies. He has also been on the boards of several non-profit organizations.

dave waldrop


Dave has over 30 years of executive leadership experience. He is currently serving as board member, consultant, and mentor to a variety of start-up companies and non-profit organizations like NWIRC, leveraging his experience, executive leadership skills and extensive network to help companies grow and thrive. He has served as Chief Revenue Officer/co-CEO of Calgary Scientific, Inc. (CSI) where he led the company’s transformation into a provider of enterprise workflow solutions. Prior to CSI, Dave served as executive consultant to software startups and served as president of an Albuquerque-based software startup. He also has over 18 years of experience at Microsoft, with a successful track record in enterprise sales, strategic alliances, business development, startup and incubation, and extensive experience in developing and growing partner channels.

dave waldrop


Steve has over 40 years of experience as an international executive for private and public companies in the US, Ireland, and Germany. He is a technology strategist with substantial success in product development and intellectual property investment, management, and monetization. At Intellectual Ventures he set up operations and directed investments for a new $1Billion Dublin, Ireland-based Invention Investment Fund.

During a 30-year career at Intermec Technologies, an automated data collection company, he held numerous senior management positions, ultimately becoming President and COO. Under his leadership Intermec achieved $1B in revenue through growth and strategic acquisition, ultimately leading to a successful listing on the NYSE.

Steve is also an entrepreneur having started companies in diverse industries such as construction, industrial development and transportation and logistics. He also assisted in the spin out of several technology companies in the fields of meta materials and radio frequency identification. He is an inventor on 9 US patents.

Past Board Members

Debbie Ahi
Mike Allsop
Bob Brunkow
Ross Clawson
Ray Colliver
Jim Cunningham
Jeff Kochman
David McInnis
Heidi Ray
Jeff Robinson
Carol Selby
Joe Svoboda


Community Collaboration and Support

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I contact you to find out more?

Contacting us is easy!  You can email us at jend@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.

Ready  to Get Started?

Click below to learn more about the programs and resources best suited to your needs.

Not sure where you fit in?

Contact us today, and someone from the NWIRC will be in touch shortly to help you make the best use of our resources.