Washington governor, B.C. leader support cross-border ‘innovation corridor’


Gov. Jay Inslee and B.C. Premier Christy Clark pledge to work together on joint transportation planning, trade and capital flow, and research initiatives at public universities, among other programs.

VANCOUVER, B.C. — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and British Columbia Premier Christy Clark pledged to deepen the working relationship across the border, agreeing to support a “Cascadia Innovation Corridor” and host a technology-focused summit.

The two leaders Tuesday also said they’d work together on joint transportation planning, trade and capital flow, and research initiatives at public universities, among other programs.

At the event, hosted by Microsoft and trade groups from both sides of the border, Inslee and Clark portrayed the economies of Washington and British Columbia — historically focused on resource-extraction industries such as mining, agriculture and logging — as thriving because of their pivot toward high-tech work, including software and the life sciences.

“There’s something special in the water of the Salish Sea,” Inslee said. “I would suggest that the secret is the power of innovation and understanding that the ultimate resource is not below our feet, it’s on our shoulders.”

The tone of the morning skewed toward broad ideas and topics rather than specific policy proposals. Both leaders floated ideas such as joint degrees between universities, and freer movement of capital and people across the border.

“It’s not the government that innovates, I’m painfully aware of that,” Clark told an audience of business and government leaders. She pledged to continue to push for low corporate and personal tax rates; speedier immigration for highly skilled workers, including those helping to staff Microsoft’s new Vancouver development center and greater state investment in homegrown technology companies.

And in reference to one of the conference’s most eye-catching proposals, a white paper by a pair of technologists advocating for a self-driving-vehicle-only lane on Interstate 5, Inslee resorted to a joke about artificial intelligence gone awry.

The proposal is “interesting,” he said, adding that he hadn’t considered the idea before. What he could say, though, is “if we ever do that, the system will not be given to HAL from ‘(2001) A Space Odyssey,’ I’ll tell you that.”


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