Business, academic, non-profit, and government leaders from B.C., Washington state and Oregon met today at the fourth annual Cascadia Innovation Corridor Conference to discuss a 2035 vision for the Cascadia region.

Since 2016 the Cascadia Innovation Corridor Steering Committee has been advancing a broad array of projects in the region in areas such as transportation, life sciences, higher education research excellence, and transformative technologies.

An opening keynote by Brad Smith, President of Microsoft, focused on the 2035 vision and reinforced Microsoft’s drive to turn the Pacific Northwest into a connected innovation mega-region similar to Silicon Valley, starting with better transportation between the three biggest cities in the area.

Microsoft’s Brad Smith announces latest commitment to high-speed rail in the Pacific Northwest. Photo: GeekWire

Microsoft committed to giving another US $223,667 to study the possibility of building a high-speed rail line connecting Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland, adding to a previous donation. Microsoft is providing a total of US $573,667 to the project.

In February, the Province of B.C. and the State of Oregon committed funds to advance the next phase of study needed to bring high-speed rail to the region. In April, the Washington State Legislature approved an equal amount.

With the latest commitments, the Cascadia Innovation Corridor members plan to finish the study by the end of 2020.