School for innovation breaks ground in Bellevue | KUOW News and Information

School for innovation breaks ground in Bellevue

Sep 26, 2016

An unusual center for learning is taking shape in Bellevue. It’s a partnership between the University of Washington, Microsoft and Tsinghua University in China to build a school for innovation.

The University of Washington said this is the first time a Chinese research university has established a physical presence in the United States.

Microsoft is supporting the project with $40 million worth of investment, and the school will be located nearby Microsoft's Redmond campus. The school will be in Bellevue’s Spring District, which is under construction.

The goal of the Global Innovation Exchange (GIX) is large.

“The problems we are trying to solve are global problems,” said Vikram Jandhyala, of the University of Washington. He co-heads the GIX. “Environment, health: No one country is going to be able to do this. And the two biggest economies right now are China and the U.S."

The U.S.-China relationship has been challenged by tension over trade secrets, spying and the openness of the internet, among other issues.

“The question of risk is a good one,” Jandhyala said. “But I think there is more risk in not engaging.”

He said the planet needs the best minds wherever they are. “The timing is now.”

Governor Jay Inslee told assembled dignitaries that the GIX partnership “expands not only intellectual capital, but we expand our markets. That creates jobs right here in the state of Washington and the same goes for China.”

GIX also fits into Tsinghua University’s vision for itself. The Beijing-based school is a leading technology university on par with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston.

Yang Bin, vice president of Tsinghua, said the goal is for Tsinghua to become a "truly globalized university."

The plan is to have the school open by this time next year.