Cambia Grove study attempts to establish baseline from which to measure future growth in health-care innovation in the state.

Share story

With the likes of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Juno Therapeutics and Philips in the area, health-care innovation in Washington is no secret. But a new local innovation hub wants the broader health-care community to take more notice.

Cambia Grove, in partnership with the Washington State Department of Commerce, is releasing a report Monday outlining the sector’s economic impact in the state.

The reportshows 772 health-care innovation companies contributed $6.8 billion to the state’s economy in 2014 and accounted for almost 22,500 jobs with an average wage of about $88,000. This data will be the baseline from which Cambia Grove plans to demonstrate growth in future studies.

“For a long time the traditional health-care industry has looked at life sciences and other innovation as possibly driving up costs,” said Nicole Bell, executive director of Cambia Grove, a community space in Seattle designed to be a hub for anyone working on health-innovation ventures.

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

She said she wants to encourage providers, insurers and large employers to begin hiring and working with local companies to make “our health-care system more economically sustainable.”

Washington has a robust life-sciences sector, so much so that in 2013 the governor’s office created the Life Sciences and Global Health Sector as part of the Department of Commerce and hired Maura Little to run it.

The health-care innovation sector is similar, but does not include global health, which was included in a similar study last month. It also adds health IT, health-care services and digital health companies to the traditional life-sciences sector, Bell said. Those are companies that may be considered technology companies, but are related to the health-care industry. An example is Litesprite, which is helping people improve their health with video games.

“We are looking at ways that innovation plays a role in transforming the health-care system in Washington state,” Little said. She said this report will start a dialogue about how the traditional health-care sector and health-care innovators can work together.

“It’s important to have this type of baseline to evaluate how the broader health industry and the health-innovation subsector interact while our health landscape is changing, in large part due to the Affordable Care Act,” she said.

Cambia Grove, which opened in March and was funded by Portland-based Cambia Health Solutions, worked on the study with the help of the Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association and the state Department of Commerce, Bell said. The new 9,000-square-foot center in downtown Seattle provides space for entrepreneurs, providers and investors.

Cambia Grove also hopes to serve as a vehicle to attract money into the region’s health-care industry.

The study includes funding information for health-care innovation companies in 2014. According to the report, which includes only investment activity with publicly released funding amounts, 44 companies brought in $1.6 billion in funding — the majority of which went to 19 pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, securing $1.4 billion.

Information in this article, originally published Oct. 26, 2015, was corrected later that day. A previous version of this story incorrectly spelled the name of Litesprite, a company that aims to help people improve their health with video games.

Custom-curated news highlights, delivered weekday mornings.