5G OI Lab chosen to lead new EDGE Innovation Cluster for WA State

5G OI Lab chosen to lead new EDGE Innovation Cluster for WA State

Welcome to a new public/private partnership to accelerate innovation - the EDGE Innovation Cluster

One of our favorite sayings at the 5G OI Lab is that “innovation is a team sport.”  For us that means bringing together the most innovative startups, leading technology companies, partners from an array of industries, and investors to build what’s next.

But innovation can’t be driven exclusively by the private sector. The public sector has always played a huge role in spurring innovation, from the development of the internet to funding cutting edge AI research.  That’s why we’re thrilled to announce our newly formed Enterprise Digital Growth Ecosystem (EDGE) has been selected by Washington State’s Department of Commerce as one of a handful of new “Innovation Clusters”.

Each of the selected clusters in the newly launched Innovation Cluster Accelerator will receive seed funding and work with the state to drive innovation, overcome barriers, access new market opportunities, and attract talent and capital. 

Our EDGE Cluster will bring together key stakeholders from across our vast ecosystem to build the future, maximizing the potential of edge computing and 5G to accelerate digital transformation for priority industries including:

As our Cluster grows in knowledge and expertise, we’ll look to expand to other critical industries like defense and retail.

Washington State is uniquely positioned to become an international and innovation ecosystem leader in edge computing and 5G connectivity, and the future is boundless for us to work together to cultivate and attract innovation and continue building a critical competitive advantage for our state’s leading industry sectors.

The EDGE Cluster is an evolution of our 5G Innovation Partner Zone (IPZ), where we’ve worked collaboratively over the past two years with key stakeholders including the City of Bellevue, Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, Snohomish County, T-Mobile, University of Washington, and Washington State University.  Among the key developments from that work is our Agriculture Field Lab, developed in collaboration with Snohomish County and a number of partner companies and startups from the 5G Open Innovation Lab.  The Field Lab, funded in large part by a grant from the federal CARES act, serves as a sandbox of sorts where innovators can come together to test and develop new solutions in a collaborative environment specific to the agriculture industry, sharing resources and knowledge.

Through our early work in agriculture, we’ve learned each industry has its own unique set of network and computing needs.  The development of the EDGE Cluster will allow us to methodically work over time to identify needs and ultimately build out specialized innovation zones for each industry – whether a port, hospital, or factory – spurring the testing, development and ultimately implementation of commercially viable solutions to help the state’s businesses digitally transform.

Our driving mission and passion is to help facilitate the successful growth of aspiring entrepreneurs building the next generation of cutting-edge solutions to tangibly impact and improve our world.  The one crucial challenge that the EDGE Cluster solves is giving smaller startups with limited resources access to an edge or 5G compute environment to develop those solutions. That access can be difficult or impossible.  Often, these testing environments are behind closed doors at universities or private R&D facilities. The EDGE Cluster and our Lab are dedicated to providing the resources necessary and bringing together a wide array of stakeholders to maximize their brainpower and opportunity.  The sum is much greater than the parts.

Whether it’s helping cities implement advanced traffic safety systems, guaranteeing the security of our food supply, or helping ports unsnarl supply chain issues hampering our economy, we all benefit greatly from partnerships between the private and public sector.  Our EDGE Cluster is committed to working hand in hand with our partners to maximize the potential for public good that technology can enable.

Admittedly, this won’t be fast or easy.  Dramatic innovation takes time.  We’ll start by hiring key staff members such as an executive director and technical program manager to lead the EDGE Cluster.  We’ll also seek to develop a broad community of stakeholders from across our priority industries to join us in this journey.  Then we’ll begin developing the road map and making our dream a reality. We have already begun gaining significant traction in several industries we can’t wait to share details of when the time is right.

The EDGE Cluster sits at the intersection of technology enablement, industrial transformations, and ecosystem innovation.  As our Founder Jim Brisimitzis says, the future is bright.

Posted January 11, 2022

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