Catalyst Award Winners Announced Print E-mail


(Spokane, Wash.) - Greater Spokane Incorporated, TechNet and LaunchPad INW are pleased to announce the winners in six categories for the Catalyst Awards.  The Catalyst Awards recognize contributions by individuals, organizations and businesses that demonstrate the utilization of technology and innovation to bring economic development to the region.  This year's awards also included additional categories for those organizations and businesses using clean or green technologies to make a difference.

Absolute Aviation
Absolute Aviation has over 100 years of combined aviation, electronics, and engineering experience.  Absolute assists airline customers in reducing maintenance costs associated with defective aircraft components.   The company offers real value by engineering exclusive repair solutions for avionics, electronic, electrical and electro-mechanical components for Airbus, Boeing and Regional Jet Aircraft operators around the world. Absolute Aviation uses a unique Product Improvement Approach to reduce their customers' repair costs. Their broad engineering capability means that customers receive only the best technology and the parts tailored for their specific application.
Absolute Aviation solutions provide customers with excellent reliability at approximately half the cost of new components, providing extended component life-cycle, reduced capital expenditure costs and no cost  for research and development.  Absolute Aviation has earned a respected reputation for their ability to effectively reverse engineer non-repairable aircraft components and to create effective cost saving repair solutions. In 2008, Absolute Aviation was named Aviation Company of the Year by Governor Chris Gregoire.

Institute for Systems Medicine

The Institute for Systems Medicine (ISM) is focused on developing the infrastructure for biomedical research in the Spokane region of Washington State. This integrated and common infrastructure will bring researchers and clinicians together to develop new solutions to health care issues and improve the economic vitality of Spokane's University District and Medical District. The group's first project is The Spokane Clinical Data Repository (SCDR), which will be extremely beneficial to biomedical scientists to determine trends, effects, and results of any number of scientific issues.  The group's second project, The Spokane Human Tissue Repository (SHTR), is essential to allow biomedical scientists access to human tissues for use in expanded research possibilities here in Spokane. The lack of tissue for use in research can prevent scientists from obtaining federal or private funding needed to pursue the answer to very important questions in biomedical research. ISM recently received funding through the Health Sciences and Services Authority (HSSA) to increase their capacity to develop, maintain, and operate these two repositories. The development of these resources will improve competitiveness that will attract bioentrepreneurs, grow academic and corporate biomedical research, and advance local evidence-based health care.

Avista Corporation

Avista, founded in 1889, has a history of innovation and commitment to sustainable energy solutions, leading the way with new ideas and technologies for 120 years. Avista Utilities generates, transmits and distributes energy to electric and natural gas customers in Washington, Idaho and Oregon, while providing innovative energy solutions to residential, commercial and industrial customers.
Renewable energy has been at the core of Avista's operations since 1890, when the company's Monroe Street hydroelectric facility on the Spokane River was completed. As one of the lowest emitters of C02 among the nation's top energy producers, Avista remains one of the greenest utilities in the country. Over time, Avista has taken the lead among energy suppliers in pioneering renewable and sustainable generation and building robust energy efficiency programs to create energy value for their customers. Through the development of companies like Itron (smart meters), ReliOn (fuel cells) and Advantage IQ (bill management for sustainability), Avista has created more than 600 additional "green" jobs benefitting our local economy.  The company's Clean Energy Test Site is just one example of how they are advancing renewable power through support for research and development of new renewable power technologies in a utility-scale environment. The Rathdrum, Idaho, site has room for up to six tenants to run trials for technology that can be applied to utility operations.

City of Spokane
The City of Spokane is dedicated to municipal clean/green policies, practices, and processes that further the mission of the organization. The City of Spokane is a municipal leader in Clean/Green, and was recognized in the Energy Bulletin in 2008 as the first city in the US to pursue a uniquely comprehensive approach to sustainability that addresses energy security, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and preparation for the impacts of climate change. The foundation for Spokane's approach is the City Sustainability Plan, which was accepted by City Council in 2009. The plan was a 1 ½-year community process that resulted in a strategic plan to address all aspects of City services. To implement the Sustainability Plan, the City has already created programs and processes that will serve as models for other cities, including:  performed a greenhouse gas inventory, instituted water conservation and aquifer protection programs, and reclaimed treated wastewater.   Spokane residents are also the first in the nation to be required to use only non-phosphate dish washing soaps.  The variety of Clean/Green pro¬grams created by the City of Spokane has enriched the lives of Spokane citizens, while also serving as a model for other municipal governments.
Steve Salvatori
The founder of Salvatori-Scott, Inc. and veteran entrepreneur, Steve moved to Spokane from Los Angeles in 2007 with his wife, Sami. The Salvatoris arrived in our community sight unseen, purchased a home and an existing office building at 308 W. 1st Avenue - The Lorraine Building. Steve quickly realized the opportunity to utilize the Lorraine Building as a springboard for entrepreneurs, and started the Spokane Entrepreneurial Center (SEC). With approximately 22 executive office suites, Steve developed a low risk model for entrepreneurs, whereby they could occupy space without making a deposit or signing a lease. Arrangements are made on a month-to-month basis, with rents as low as $250 to $350 per month. Amenities include free parking, broadband Internet, large conference room, break room, and the ability to collaborate with other entrepreneurs in the center. Within weeks, the Lorraine Building was completely full, with a waiting list of an additional twenty prospective tenants. For the first time ever, with Steve's vision and willingness to create an affordable support mechanism, Spokane was filling a growing gap for start-ups and entrepreneurs. Steve purchased a second building, The Plechner Building at 608 West 2nd, to continue supporting entrepreneurs and startup companies and another 20 offices were added to the mix.  Over 100 entrepreneurs and start-up companies have utilized the Spokane Entrepreneurial Center.
Dr. Bassem Bejjani and Dr. Lisa Shaffer
As founders of Spokane's Signature Genomics, Drs. Shaffer and Bejjani were visionary in seeing the need for microarray (aCGH) testing and developing a unique product and service to meet that need. Together, they started the world's first company to provide these testing services. This testing enables the detection of chromosomal abnormalities associated with various disorders - such as congenital abnormalities, developmental delay, and autism spectrum disorder - in young children.
Microarray testing has literally changed the world of genetics and the way in which chromosomal abnormalities are detected. Dr. Shaffer was recently selected as the NW Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst and Young and serves as the company's CEO. Dr. Bejjani is the company's Chief Medical Officer. Signature Genomics has been recognized as one of the fastest growing biotechnology companies in the United States in both 2008 and 2009 by Inc. Magazine.

For a complete list of previous Catalyst Award winners, please visit the website.

About Greater Spokane Incorporated
Greater Spokane Incorporated is committed to accelerating regional economic prosperity throughout the Spokane region.  Greater Spokane Incorporated is funded by more than 1500 private-sector member investors; Spokane County; and the cities of Spokane; Spokane Valley; Liberty Lake; Cheney; Airway Heights; Millwood, Newport and Medical Lake.  For more information, visit or contact us at 509-624-1393 or 1-800-SPOKANE.
Greater Spokane Incorporated - We're Still Your Regional Chamber and EDC

About LaunchPad-INW is a regional social networking site owned and operated by LaunchPad Inland Northwest, LLC. Along with the social networking website, LaunchPad Inland Northwest, LLC provides social media solutions including business development consulting and customized training workshops on how to maximize social networking and social media for your business or organization. For more information including information please contact Bill Kalivas at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

About Technet
Founded in 1991 to enhance the local technology networking of Inland NW businesses and organizations, Technet served as the primary coordinator of technology events for the region.  As founders of the Catalyst Award, Technet serves the community by supporting the annual Catalyst Awards to recognize innovation in technology. The Technet Board of Directors focuses on supporting scholarships for students interested in technology fields.

The Catalyst Innovator of the Year award honors Mr. Ken Grunzweig, a local entrepreneur, volunteer and mentor who exemplified the essence of innovation and provided many hours of support to organizations like Technet, Gonzaga University and numerous start-up companies.  Mr. Grunzweig passed away in 2004 after a brief illness.