Seattle's Newest Innovation District

Innovation Districts: New Centers of Commerce, Collaboration, Creativity, and Economic Activity

New Innovation Districts are where, the Brookings Institution suggests, the winners in today’s economy can be found. These districts are known for emerging concepts of collaboration and productivity are converging around Startup Ecosystems, Curated Coworking, and Engineering Serendipity.

As part of Startup Week Seattle, Nate Daum of UW and Startup Hall moderated a panel discussion at Bell Harbor Conference Center featuring local experts from real estate development, architecture and urban planning, city government, and the Seattle startup community.

Innovation districts were surveyed from London and New York to San Francisco.

In addition to South Lake Union, there is another District growing on the edge of the UW campus. It is anchored by Startup Hall and is home to UP Global, Techstars, and Founders Co-op. Chris DeVore, Director of Techstars said this location was attractive because of its proximity to talent; UW is a top 10 school in computer science, medical research, and biomedical studies.

While Startup Hall is not “officially” open yet, here is a peek from a recent open house:


Panelist Bios:

James Mueller is Managing Partner & CFO of JC Mueller, LLC. As the Senior Director of Development for Vulcan Inc. from 2000-2005, Jim laid the groundwork for South Lake Union as we know it today; one of the world’s best known Innovation Districts.

Alan Hart, Principal and Founder of VIA Architecture, will present his experience leading a collaborative effort to create the “Quartier L’innovation” next door to McGill University in Montreal. This overview of the impressive work Alan has done internationally will tee up an exciting conversation about opportunities before us here in the northwest.

Chris DeVore, is the Chair of the Seattle Economic Development Commission. He is also a serial entrepreneur, the co-founder of Founder’s Co-Op, director of Techstars Seattle, and an early adopter of the innovation district vision for the U District.

Rebecca Lovell is the City of Seattle’s Startup Liaison. In addition to leading the city’s “Startup Seattle” initiative, she’s a highly respected tech industry mentor, former CEO of Vittana, Chief Business officer for GeekWire, Executive Director of the Northwest Entrepreneur Network, and UW Foster School of Business instructor.

Seaton Gras has extensive experience in creating businesses from ideas. In Spring of 2009 he created SURF Incubator as a place where entrepreneurs can find such assistance from their peers and from the extended community. Today it is more than 58 member companies, employing a total of about 140 people combined.