Microsoft part of upcoming Seattle-Vancouver Financial Innovation Network, with focus on cross-border collaboration for mixed reality programs

September 12, 2017 — 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, Canada, the Cascadia Innovation Corridor is built upon a shared spirit of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship. The Corridor boasts research organizations and global corporations in an 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 economic opportunities.

President and CEO of the Business Council of British Columbia, Greg D’Avignon, commented: “The BC and Washington State economies were among the strongest in North America last year, due in large part to the diversity of our talent, technology and natural assets. Our two great countries, working in collaboration through the Cascadia Corridor, can make the Pacific Northwest a globally dominant digital innovation cluster that will benefit the future health and prosperity of our people, environment and economies for decades to come.”

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.

Part of the announcement made today included news on the Seattle-Vancouver Financial Innovation Network (FIN). Set to be launched in Q4 of 2017 with support from Microsoft and Madrona Venture Group, the Seattle-Vancouver FIN plans to bring together leading Cascadia Corridor financial services and technology companies and relevant US 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.

Further announcements included:

  • British Columbia Institute of Technology, Lake Washington Institute of Technology and Oregon Institute of Technology have joined forces to provide industry aligned, high-skill talent for the Cascadia Corridor’s workforce needs.
  • The Global Innovation Exchange (GIX), which includes University of Washington and Tsinghua University in Beijing, with support from Microsoft Corp. 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.
  • 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.
  • The Canadian Consulate General in Seattle, representing the government of Canada, has brought innovation partners from British Columbia, Washington and Oregon together to establish a new cross-border startup accelerator partnership called 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 two-day conference, which is being 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/virtual reality.

Video credit: Business Council of British Columbia/YouTube

About the author

Sam Sprigg

Sam is the Founder and Managing Editor of Auganix. With a background in research and report writing, he has been covering XR industry news for the past seven years.