January 28, 2022

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All The Technology

Tech Moves: Bioengineer joins AI2 incubator; Icosavax adds execs, expands board; and more

Jenny Cronin. (AI2 Photo)

— The Allen Institute for AI (AI2) added bioengineer Jenny Cronin as an associate working with entrepreneurs in AI2’s startup incubator.

“I’m excited about the potential human health benefits and discoveries we’ll see by leveraging AI in the biotech and healthcare spaces,” said Cronin in an email to GeekWire.

Cronin was most recently a senior science communications advisor at s2s Public Relations and previously a product manager at NanoString Technologies. She has her doctorate in bioengineering from the University of Washington where she researched brain-computer interfaces.

Biotech startups Ozette and Modulus, and health-tech startup MajorBoost have all incubated at AI2. The organization, founded by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, started expanding its incubator program in 2017 after successfully spinning out two AI companies.

Seattle-based biotech firm Icosavax appointed two new executives and added two board members:

  • Elizabeth Bekiroglu as general counsel. She was most recently associate general counsel at Bothell, Wash.-based Seagen.
  • Thomas Russo as chief financial officer. He was most recently CFO at Assembly Biosciences and previously vice president of commercial finance at Gilead Sciences.
  • Former Blue Shield of California CFO Heidi Kunz as a board member.
  • Former UNICEF Executive Director Ann Veneman as a board member.

Spun out of the University of Washington, Icosavax has applied its vaccine development technology to COVID-19 and other viruses. The company went public in July.

Dr. Samuel Browd. (Proprio Photo)

— Pediatric neurosurgeon Samuel Browd is taking a partial leave of absence from the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital to expand his role as chief medical officer at surgical technology startup ProprioHe co-founded Proprio with Gabriel Jones and James Youngquist in 2016.

For the next year, the new hybrid arrangement will allow Browd to alternate weeks between his role as an attending neurosurgeon and Proprio, where he will focus on product development, clearing regulatory hurdles and soft launching the platform in surgery programs.

“I fundamentally believe we have the ability at Proprio to use our technology to make surgeons better, more efficient and reduce the cost of care,” Browd told GeekWire via email.

Browd previously co-founded high tech helmet maker Vicis. He has been a professor of neurological surgery at UW for 14 years and the director of UW Medicine’s Sports Institute since 2017.

Proprio’s high tech surgical tools utilize computer vision, AI and virtual reality to produce a real-time image for surgeons. The company emerged from stealth mode in 2019 and closed a $23 million Series A funding round last year.

— Former Ticketmaster Chief Information Officer Gui Karyo joined Dapper Labs as CIO. Growing along with the non-fungible tokens (NFTs) craze, the Vancouver, B.C.-based blockchain startup powers the popular NBA Top Shot and Cryptokitties digital collectibles. Karyo is based in Seattle.

Sean Carr. (GIX Photo)

— The Global Innovation Exchange (GIX) named Sean Carr its new executive director and CEO starting in January. Interim Executive Director Shwetak Patel, a UW professor, inventor and entrepreneur, will return to his previous role as GIX faculty lead and CTO.

Carr is currently the executive director of the Batten Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of Virginia. He has a doctorate in management and master degrees in both business administration and journalism. He was previously a producer at ABC News and CNN.

The educational institute is based in Bellevue, Wash., and launched in 2017 through a partnership between UW, China’s Tsinghua University, and Microsoft.

— Longtime Microsoft executives John Gossman and John Kahan have retired. Both spent almost two decades at the Redmond, Wash., tech giant, joining in 2000 and 2003 respectively.

Gossman was an Azure distinguished engineer and vice president. He is a former Linux Foundation board member.

Kahan was chief data analytics officer and vice president. Prior to joining Microsoft he spent 18 years at IBM.

Nate Miller. (Unearth Photo)

Unearth Technologies co-founder Nate Miller has left the construction mapping startup he founded with Amy Hutchins and Brian Saab five years ago. He plans to take time off before pursuing his next entrepreneurial venture.

“While I’m proud of what Unearth has achieved, I’m excited at the opportunities for digital transformation made possible by recent innovations in energy and finance,” Miller said in a message to GeekWire.

Unearth Technologies map-based platform for field operations is used by construction, utilities, telecom, and government teams. The Seattle startup has raised $11.6 million to date.

Mindy Hamlin. (Crown Electrokinetics Photo)

— Smart glass company Crown Electrokinetics hired Mindy Hamlin as vice president of engineering. She spent more than two decades at HP, most recently as director of technology and operations.

The Corvallis, Ore.-based company is commercializing pigment-based thin-film technology originally invented at HP. Crown Electrokinetics went public in January.

— Former Microsoft Distinguished Engineer Dave Reed is now a director of engineering at Facebook. Reed spent more than 26 years at Microsoft and was a distinguished engineer on the Xbox Live, AI Services and computer vision teams.

In a post on LinkedIn, Reed said the move is meant to challenge himself after making several moves internally, adding, “Microsoft’s technology breadth is massive and provided me the opportunity to work on many different products and technology.”