After months of preparation, the Readiness Acceleration and Innovation Network (RAIN) hosted its grand opening of its new incubator, “The Wedge,” on Sept. 27. RAIN is a non-profit organization located in Tacoma that works to unlock innovations and create opportunities in life sciences to improve the prosperity within the local community.
Chief Operating Officer Dane Jessen said, “We use the terminology of an incubator because we want to be a place that people can take their ideas and develop them and commercialize them.” RAIN is the only organization in Tacoma that connects business and other organizations in life sciences.
David Hirschberg, founder, chairman and CEO of RAIN, was born and raised in Tacoma before going off to complete his master’s degree and Ph.D. in neuroimmunology at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Later he went to work at Stanford and Columbia University before finally returning to Tacoma to take several roles in the local community and at the University of Washington-Tacoma (UWT). Hirschberg’s colleges stressed his vision at RAIN and his efforts to follow through with its mission.
Zoey Shisler, a first year transfer student at UWT, began her internship in July. She received her associate’s degree at Tacoma Technical College in understanding bio. Shisler said, “RAIN has a connection that I feel you cannot get at the college.” This connection that Shisler references is gained with RAIN’s large network of community organizations.
RAIN’s core regional partners include MultiCare, Madigan Hospital, the City of Tacoma and UWT. Jessen stated, “It is hard for local hospitals to develop and maintain a work force, and we help with that.
We have an emphasis on career connected work so that by the time the students graduate, they can get hired.”
With this partnership, Madigan and other local hospitals are gaining experienced workers and these students have better opportunities in the fields they are interested in.
“When I moved here, I realized a deficit in life science so I believed in the mission,” Shisler said.
RAIN’s mission is to provide the support for developing and starting up ideas, research and development, prototyping, business development and launch. In addition, RAIN works together to create prosperity and well-being in the local community.
Judy Nguyen, a scientific advisor at RAIN, said, “The ideas that people have don’t have to be just ideas. They can be developed here.” Nguyen received her master’s degree in molecular science and neuroscience, and later met Hirschberg while working at another location. After she heard Hirschberg’s vision of RAIN, Ngueyn was hooked. She now oversees and guides lab work so that the members at RAIN can take what they learn and actually be able to use it out in the real world of life science.
Opening The Wedge to the public is just one of the first steps that RAIN will take to begin a network that crosses boundaries to grow the businesses, talent and jobs in the City of Tacoma. RAIN cannot become a location overnight that researches cancer and rocket science, but as Jessen stated, “Right now we’re building the fundamental building blocks. The hope is that 20 years down the road we can be researching, say, cancer here.” Until that time, RAIN will continue to commit to their vision of inspiring and empowering the local community to turn Tacoma into a major industrial and commercial player in the Pacific Northwest life science sector.