RAIN Finalist in Dept of Homeland Security BioThreat

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News Release: DHS S&T Announces Five Finalists in $300K Biothreat Prize Competition

February 14, 2018

Washington, DC – Five finalists were announced today for Stage 1 of the $300,000 Hidden Signals Challenge. Issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), in collaboration with the Office of Health Affairs National Biosurveillance Integration Center (NBIC), the challenge calls for the design of an early warning system that uses existing data to uncover emerging biothreats. The announcement was made at the American Society for Microbiology’s 2018 ASM Biothreats meeting.

“We were impressed with the diversity of concepts submitted to the Challenge,” said William N. Bryan, DHS Senior Official Performing the Duties of Under Secretary for Science and Technology. “The five finalists explore new ways we can uncover emerging biothreats and we are confident they’ll inform a system that could enable city-level operators to make critical decisions.”

The five finalists are:

  • Readiness Acceleration & Innovation Network (RAIN), Tacoma, WA for Commuter Pattern Analysis for Early Biothreat Detection, a system that cross-references de-identified traffic information with existing municipal health data and internet keyword searches. The tool will be developed to recognize commuter absenteeism to flag a possible disease outbreak.

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"Tacoma gets it's own life, science incubation hub"

Biotech hub looking to bring high-paying careers to Tacoma

The future of Tacoma might exist in a building dubbed “The Wedge.”The building, 2304 Jefferson Ave. near the University of Washington Tacoma, houses the Readiness Acceleration and Innovation Network (RAIN.) The biotech nonprofit hub, which celebrated its grand opening Wednesday, exists to provide start-up companies “with significant support for ideation, research and development, prototyping, business development, and launch,” according to RAIN’s online biography.

The plan is to draw from business partnerships, local biotech companies, investors, universities, Joint Base Lewis-McChord and the medical community.RAIN was founded as a collaboration involving UWT, MultiCare Health System and Madigan Army Medical Center. It’s the culmination of efforts by its CEO, David Hirschberg, and a small army of volunteers and impassioned staff members, who believe it’s Tacoma’s time to stand outside of Seattle’s shadow.

“Rather than being a bedroom community of Seattle, we can be an urban center,” Hirschberg said in a recent interview with The News Tribune. 

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