Office of the President

September 15, 2017

As new GIX building opens, collaboration holds the key to our future

Ana Mari Cauce

Yesterday marked the official opening of the new Global Innovation Exchange (GIX) facility – the newly-christened Steve Ballmer Building – in Bellevue’s Spring District. The celebration was a momentous occasion, fitting for the scale of impact I believe that GIX will have in uniting universities, civic leaders, government officials, industry partners, artists and entrepreneurs around global challenges. With the launch of this building, GIX welcomes the students, faculty and industry experts from around the world whose work and education will serve to benefit our region, and the world.

I was honored to be joined at the opening by Tsinghua University President Qiu Yong, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Microsoft President Brad Smith, Governor Jay Inslee, former governors Christine Gregoire and Gary Locke, and China’s Consul General Luo Linquan, along with GIX’s first cohort of students from the UW, Tsinghua, and throughout the world and a host of faculty and friends.  We also announced the addition of eight new partner universities, École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the Indian Institute of Science, Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology, National Taiwan University, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, Tecnológico de Monterrey, and the University of British Columbia and five new members of the GIX Industry Consortium members including Arm, Baidu, Boeing HorizonX, and T-Mobile.

Just three years ago, GIX was still an idea.  To literally open its doors yesterday was a vivid demonstration of how nimble this partnership has been. For that, I thank not only the talented leaders who made it possible, including GIX’s Co-Executive Directors Vikram Jandhyala and Mary Lidstrom, as well as Tsinghua University Vice President and Provost Bin Yang, but also our partners at Tsinghua University and Microsoft, who have thrown themselves into bringing GIX to life.

Ana Mari Cauce, Brad Smith and Qiu Yong open GIX doors

Making it official!

GIX is an intentionally bold experiment to build international, entrepreneurial, creative collaborations to address specific grand challenges. We urgently need boldness to meet the global challenges before us. No one discipline or sector will have all the answers or tools for addressing them. And, in the same vein, we need leaders whose vision for a better world is matched by a skillset that cuts across the boundaries of research, practical application and entrepreneurship. The graduates of GIX’s degree programs will be able to combine technical and design thinking skills with the business acumen that supports true innovation. They may launch a start-up or help other young companies achieve success, they may transform industries or academic disciplines. The goal of GIX is to create a new way of solving problems by breaking down traditional silos.

At its core, that breakdown of silos and enablement of collaboration among universities and the private and non-profit sectors are GIX’s signature. GIX was made possible thanks to Microsoft’s foundational support, and Tsinghua University’s partnership, but additional universities’ and companies’ engagement and investment will be critical to its success. We welcome more partners to GIX Academic Network and Industry Consortium because only by adding more voices, more expertise and more serendipitous connections can we solve the problems at hand. And we all have a stake in solving them.