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Innovation Partnership Zone

The Skagit Valley Value-Added Agriculture Innovation Partnership Zone nurtures partnerships to enhance the local agricultural industry, promoting innovative approaches that combine research and technology producing new jobs and a robust economy centered on the valley’s rich agricultural resources and heritage. This designation enhances regional marketing, enlarges future funding potential and encourages collaborative partnerships.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced IPZ designation on Oct. 1, 2013 and re-designated on Oct. 2, 2017. The designation lasts four years and can be extended. Partners include these:

  • Local farmers and entrepreneurs
  • Washington State University
  • The Northwest Agriculture Business Center
  • The Port of Skagit
  • The City of Mount Vernon
  • Skagit County
  • Skagit Valley College
  • The Economic Development Alliance of Skagit County
  • NWIRC
  • Skagit Farmers Supply

IPZ Whitepaper

Statewide Program

Created in 2007 by the Washington State Legislature, IPZs were intended to encourage and support research institutions, workforce training organizations and globally competitive companies to work cooperatively together in close geographic proximity to create commercially viable products and jobs. In an IPZ, university researchers work closely with their private sector partners to develop prototypes, incubate start-ups, design critical training programs and pool best practices in order to blaze new trails in innovation. The designation lasts four years and can be extended.

 

While Skagit County has a number of interesting economic assets that could qualify as industry clusters, the one that rises to the top is the focus on increasing economic opportunities for value-added agriculture.  Several examples already exist:

  • Provitro has developed a method of replicating giant bamboo for use in making paper.
  • Farm Power Northwest is recycling local farm and food waste into renewable electricity.
  • Skagit Valley Malting is using grain research done at the WSU Mount Vernon Research and Extension Center to develop a specialty malting facility that will supply microbreweries and distilleries.

“Agriculture is the fabric of our past and present here in the Skagit Valley. We want to ensure farming remains viable in the future as well, and the IPZ is a tool we can use to make that happen.” -- Patsy Martin, executive director of the Port of Skagit

 

“The goal of the IPZ is to commercialize WSU research with the private sector while developing a trained workforce for these enterprises.  New business activity will support the viability of Skagit Valley agriculture while creating quality jobs for our residents.” -- David Bauermeister, executive director of Northwest Agriculture Business Center.