Leaders from Washington state and British Columbia today announced a suite of new initiatives focused on improving connectivity, strengthening innovation and generating economic opportunity.
Launched in September 2016 in Vancouver, British Columbia, the Cascadia Innovation Corridor is built upon a shared spirit of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. The Corridor boasts world-renowned research organizations and global corporate leaders in a diverse array of existing and emerging technology disciplines, including aviation and aeronautics; software development; cloud computing; online retailing; big data transmission, storage and analysis; the Internet of things; mobile communications; biotechnology and the life sciences; and global health.
Governments, universities, companies, research institutions and others have joined together to tap the potential of the Cascadia region to create new and exciting economic opportunities while celebrating cultural diversity and inclusion.
By focusing on research, economic development and transportation, the Cascadia Innovation Corridor is enhancing greater connectivity, productivity and innovation for the nearly 12 million people living in British Columbia and Washington State.
Announcements today include these:
- Three internationally recognized polytechnics have joined forces to provide industry aligned, high-skill talent for the Cascadia Corridor’s workforce needs. British Columbia Institute of Technology, Lake Washington Institute of Technology and Oregon Institute of Technology will collaborate to leverage their applied education offerings in high-demand STEM fields, and provide expanded professional practice for students and career opportunities for graduates within the Corridor’s path of influence.
- Expansion of the Global Innovation Exchange (GIX) to include the University of British Columbia. GIX is a global partnership between major research universities and innovative corporations to develop leaders in innovation. The University of Washington and Tsinghua University in Beijing are founding partners, with support from Microsoft Corp. GIX is expanding to include the University of British Columbia as an academic network member, building a bridge across the Pacific between the Cascadia Corridor and China, and between the higher-education community and the business community in a manner that benefits students. More academic network partners will be announced shortly.
- Seattle-Vancouver Financial Innovation Network. Set to be launched in Q4 of 2017 with support from Microsoft and Madrona Venture Group, the Seattle-Vancouver Financial Innovation Network (FIN) will bring together leading Cascadia Corridor financial services and technology companies and relevant U.S. and Canadian regulatory authorities to establish an integrated international financial center (IFC). Initial FIN programs will include promotion of coordinated digital economy cross-border investments with an emphasis on fintech, mixed reality, artificial intelligence, intelligent apps and quantum computing. The long-term FIN strategic objective is the creation of an integrated financial services cluster that competes directly with other similar-sized IFCs, such as Boston, Dublin, Shenzhen, Munich and Melbourne.
- Progress on transportation connecting the Cascadia region
o The state of Washington is performing an in-depth feasibility study for a potential high-speed rail line that would connect the Cascadia region. Microsoft is donating $50,000 to supplement the $300,000 in state funding approved for the study.
o In addition, Harbour Air and Kenmore Air are working together on a new seaplane route linking Seattle and Vancouver, with a final announcement expected later this year.
- A new cross-border startup accelerator partnership among British Columbia, Washington and Oregon. The Canadian Consulate General in Seattle, representing the government of Canada, has brought innovation partners in the three regions together to establish the Cascadia Innovation Network (CIN), which initially will include business incubators, accelerators and universities, but may later include venture capital firms and other innovation partners. The CIN focuses on bringing innovative ideas to the public by introducing startups to cross-border funding and support opportunities. A new memorandum of understanding will initially bring together the University of Washington (Co-Motion), Washington State University, Cambia Grove, Oregon Health and Science University, Oregon Translational Research & Development Institute (OTRADI), Portland State University Business Accelerator, Innovation Boulevard (BC Health Tech Accelerator), University of British Columbia (e@entrepreneurship), Accelerate Okanagan, Wavefront, and Foresight.
The two-day conference, hosted by the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, Microsoft, Washington Roundtable and Business Council of British Columbia, examines shared regional opportunities and challenges, including discussions on venture capital investment, higher education, life sciences, smart cities and augmented reality/virtually reality.
Speakers include Washington Governor Jay Inslee, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minster of Environment and Climate Change Jonathan Wilkinson, Hootsuite Chief Executive Officer Ryan Holmes, Microsoft President Brad Smith, BuildDirect President and CEO Jeff Booth, University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce, University of British Columbia President Santa Ono, LifeLabs President and CEO Sue Paish, and Harvey Mudd College President Maria Klawe.