PNNL employee named to commission

Mike Schwenk of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has been named to a newly strengthened Washington Economic Development Commission by Gov. Chris Gregoire.

As the result of new legislation, the commission includes members from the private sector for the first time. Schwenk, PNNL's director of technology deployment and outreach, as well as a vice president for Battelle, joins 14 other private sector members appointed to the committee.

The new commission members come from business, labor, education, association, trade, ports and local economic development organizations.

"Washington has historically been home to some of the greatest innovators who went on to develop successful companies like Starbucks, Microsoft and Boeing," Gregoire said in a statement. "This enhanced commission will ensure that our state continues to support our innovation industries, while encouraging new ideas, growth and opportunities."

The Washington Economic Development Commission was established in 2003 to assist the governor and Legislature by providing leadership, direction and guidance on a "long-term and systematic approach" to economic development that is designed to result in global competitiveness, prosperity and economic opportunity for the state and its citizens.

Schwenk has been at PNNL since 1998 and has more than 30 years of technical and business management experience in government, nonprofit, entrepreneurial and corporate settings. For most of that time, he has championed efforts to move research out of the laboratory and into the hands of business.

While at PNNL, Schwenk has been a national leader in commercialization and technology transfer, overseeing those functions at PNNL, as well as chairing two corporate councils with representatives from six national laboratories dedicated to improving the innovation process.

Schwenk is chairman of the Washington State University Research Foundation, which is WSU's technology transfer arm. He also is chairman of the Three Rivers Community Roundtable, a regional umbrella economic development organization, as well as the Mid-Columbia Energy Initiative.

In 2008, he was named Tri-Citian of the Year.

Nationally, Schwenk is chairman of the Industrial Research Institute's Science and Technology Policy Committee, and he serves on the board of the International Economic Development Council.