WTC Executive Director accompanies Governor on trade mission

Washington Technology Center (WTC) executive director Lee Cheatham accompanied Washington Governor Chris Gregoire on a trade mission to Australia and New Zealand in May, 2006. Dr. Cheatham was one of 20 delegates who traveled down under to meet with government officials, business executives, and scientific researchers in Queensland, New South Wales, and Auckland.

“There are a number of intriguing parallels between Queensland and Washington that makes both states strong candidates for innovation-driven economic growth.” says Lee Cheatham, Executive Director for Washington Technology Center and trade mission delegate. “This visit allowed us to explore these more closely, compare notes on what’s been successful, and leverage our collective strengths to the economic advantage of both regions.”

Washington Technology Center is the statewide organization tasked with driving economic development based on innovation and technology in Washington. The Washington State Legislature has mandated WTC as the champion for a number of programs and initiatives around research innovation and industry growth.

Many of the programs led by WTC closely align with those of the Queensland government. Both emphasize the value of a strong R&D base as a driver of economic growth and align priorities for funding, development and facilities to encourage activities in the areas of research and technology commercialization. These commonalities which will be useful in strategic discussions between the states on partnership opportunities in research, development and trade.

WTC’s Industries of Distinction program enhances Washington’s competitiveness by accelerating market adoption of niche technology sectors where Washington is uniquely positioned to become a world leader. Examples include micro-electronics, renewable energy, and nanotechnology. These industries are often classified as “emerging” and provide opportunities to diversify and complement industries where Washington is already competitive, such as software, aerospace and life sciences.

It is the latter, biotechnology and biomedicine, which were at the crux of the governor’s trip to Australia. This industry is on the top of both states’ priority lists as a particularly strong growth sector and an area where research and commercialization partners could be fruitful. In April, Washington Governor Chris Gregoire and Queensland Deputy Premier Anne Bligh entered into a partnership agreement to develop collaborative projects in biotechnology and biomedicine. The trade mission strengthened this partnership by encouraging dialogue and information-sharing that will provide the basis of a strong development alliance between the two governments.

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