The Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) has received a $550,000 grant from the state of Washington’s Department of Commerce to begin developing an advanced technology cluster that will build connectivity and collaboration across blockchain technologies and quantum computing, WTIA announced today.
WTIA will invite its more than 1,200 member organizations to help create the advanced technology cluster to drive private investment, job creation, and innovation throughout the state.
“Today is a proud day for the entire WTIA team,” Michael Schutzler, CEO of WTIA, said in a news release. “The state Department of Commerce has selected us as their lead partner to expand Washington’s position as a global innovation hub. Our state has an opportunity to lead the country in blockchain and quantum computing, which will spur economic growth, generate new jobs, and help secure the state’s long-term competitiveness.
WTIA will convene members of the cluster — which includes corporations, academia, startups, government, and investors — to drive tech sector growth. Using grant funding and WTIA programs, the cluster will focus on five areas: mapping the advanced technology ecosystem; attracting and accelerating startups; building a diverse workforce including women, BIPOC, and other underrepresented groups; advancing a supportive policy environment; and creating strong partnerships, according to the release.
To achieve the goals, the cluster also will invite academia to collaborate on workforce development, educate policymakers to create a supportive regulatory environment, grow startup accelerators to support advanced technology startups, produce reports to inform cluster strategy, and provide forums to connect relevant stakeholders, the release said.
“As WTIA builds a global center for these new technologies, it will be especially important for us to be intentional about the way the cluster includes people from underrepresented groups,” Schutzler said. “Building more equitable access to these opportunities is a key part of our DNA at WTIA and something that will be reflected and prioritized in the cluster.”
The information and communications technology sector in the state is a major driver of Washington’s economy. The sector directly employed almost 279,000 people in 2020 who earned almost 25 percent of all wages in the state and spent an estimated $35.5 billion on personal consumption, providing more than $1 billion in state sales tax revenues, according to a report released by WTIA last fall.