Science & Technology



New partnership aims to create 5G hub in Seattle area

Keerthi Vedantam, The Seattle Time on

Published in Science & Technology News

SEATTLE -- A new technology hub backed by big names like Intel and NASA will fund startups in health care, retail, transportation and energy -- as long as they harness 5G networks.

The 5G Open Innovation Lab, in partnership with T-Mobile, the University of Washington and the City of Bellevue, Wash., will connect 5G startups with investors and technology labs to test their products.

Applications for startups open this month, and the lab is slated to open in January. The list of financial partners has not been announced yet.

The partnership aims to encourage the growth of the 5G sector in the region by providing funding for startups and creating a pipeline for jobs for students interested in working with 5G. The lab is for investors and early- to late-stage startups to create and market 5G-capable products.

Jim Brisimitzis, general partner of the lab, pointed to Seattle's booming cloud-tech industry as an added factor to power 5G startups here. In the 5G cellular technology that's just beginning to be implemented in the United States, more data can travel at faster speeds than the current 4G LTE -- for instance, downloading a movie to a phone could take seconds.

"The thing that I'm most interested in pursuing inside the lab is what are the new markets or new businesses could be created because of what 5G networks will be able to support," Brisimitzis said. "5G is essentially a new, fresh perspective ... and as a result of that we do expect that industries and job opportunities will change and evolve alongside them."


The lab and its partners are part of an Innovation Partnership Zone (IPZ). Those are partnerships between the private sector, education institutions and municipal government to promote economic opportunities. Washington has designated 15 IPZs since 2007 to target such sectors as aerospace, agriculture and craft brewing.

The boundaries for the IPZ stretch from Seattle to Bellevue -- where T-Mobile is headquartered and where the 5G Open Innovation Lab will likely live -- and encompass the operations of many big technology companies like Microsoft and Intel.

The lab plans to seed roughly 15 to 20 startups every six months.

"This will undoubtedly attract global talent and investment into the Seattle region as these companies grow," said T-Mobile's Senior Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, Jason Young, in a letter to the state's Department of Commerce.


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