A cross-boarder meeting for ” The Emerging Cascadia Innovation Corridor Conference” was launched in Vancouver, British Columbia over the weekend of September 19th-21st. The conference brought together government and business leaders to explore the potential for partnerships in education, transportation, university research in a new example of cross-border collaboration. 

The event was hosted by Washington Roundtable non-profit and Business Council of British Columbia, included notable companies like Microsoft, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle Cancer Care alliance, and individuals like Washington governor Jay Inslee, and British Columbia Premier Christy Clark, who signed a formal agreement to “enhance meaningful and results-driven innovation and collaboration” and outlining a pathway forward. 

In a PR News wire article covering the event, the author noted that “Seattle and Vancouver, the two cities at the heart of the new initiative, share a number of complementary strengths. These include a high quality of life, diverse communities, a skilled and well-educated workforce, and strong economic and social ties to Asia. And yet… the level of connectedness between the two cities remains remarkably low for two cities so close together. While only 120 miles or 190 kilometers apart they behave more like cities that are thousands of miles apart.”

Some steps to working for an increasingly connected Cascadia bioregion that were outlined at the conference included:

  • Developing a Cascadia working group to drive progress — perhaps featuring an annual summit to share trends, best practices and continue the dialogue.
  • Driving greater collaboration between the region’s major research universities, perhaps drawing inspiration from the Research Triangle.
  • Fostering relationships both within startup communities and between investors and entrepreneurs to increase the availability of capital and other support.
  • Coordinating educational strategies and programs to prepare current and future workers to participate in the innovation economy.
  • Building a broader set of transportation solutions to reduce travel time, perhaps featuring seaplane service between South Lake Union and Coal Harbour in the near term or even drawing on autonomous solutions or high-speed rail in the long term.

Speakers and attendees include British Columbia Premier Christy Clark; Washington Governor Jay Inslee; Seattle Mayor Ed Murray; Deputy Mayor of Vancouver Heather Deal; Microsoft Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the Gates Foundation Bill Gates; Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella; Microsoft President Brad Smith; TELUS Chief Corporate Officer and Executive Vice President Josh Blair; University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce; University of British Columbia President Santa Ono; Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center President Gary Gilliland; and BC Cancer Agency President Malcolm Moore, among other elected officials, regional CEOs and academic leaders.

The conference primarily focused on cross-border relationship building between Washington and British Columbia, but will also hopefully extend to Oregon in the future.