The Innovation Triangle brings three Eastside communities closer together
With the City of Seattle has attracting much of the buzz in the international technology industry, driven largely by one of its largest employers, Amazon, it’s easy to forget that the technology industry has a much longer history in the region, spanning many decades and multiple generations.
In 1979, three years after founding Microsoft in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Paul Allen and Bill Gates decided to relocate to the Seattle region, in part for its deep base of engineering talent and strong commitment to higher education. It chose to locate its first Seattle-area office in Bellevue, and in 1986, it opened a new campus in Redmond. The firm maintains a sizable presence in downtown Bellevue.
In 1982, Japanese videogame company Nintendo relocated its American headquarters from New York City to Redmond, in part for easier access to its home office in Japan. Today, it is well-known for the popular Nintendo 64, GameBoy, and Nintendo DS consoles — and for its majority ownership of the Seattle Mariners, which it sold last year. The firm maintains nearly 1,000 employees in Redmond, with more across the Eastside.
In 2004, Silicon Valley search giant Google chose to locate its first Puget Sound region office not in Seattle, but in Kirkland. In 2009, it relocated to a massive, three-story campus adjacent to the Eastside Rail Corridor, an in-progress shared-use trail for pedestrians and cyclists. Then, in 2015, it doubled down, expanding its Kirkland campus to nearly 400,000 square feet. Today, its employees work on products like Chrome, Google+, and Google Cloud, and its campus has been a launching pad for other regional offices.
These firms are united by their interest in the Puget Sound region and its Eastside, and there’s little question as to why. The Innovation Triangle of Bellevue, Redmond, and Kirkland has become one of the most highly-educated, diverse, and international communities in the country. As of 2017, 23% of Innovation Triangle residents work in engineering- or science-related job functions, more than Austin, Texas (10%), more than Portland, Oregon (8%), and more than San Jose, CA — the heart of Silicon Valley — at just 13%. These knowledge economy workers are analyzing systems, building the next generation of cloud computing, pioneering virtual and augmented reality, and writing the code and designing the craft that will take us into space more cheaply and more safely than ever before.
With world-class engineering and computer science education at institutions like the University of Washington, DigiPen, and the new Global Innovation Exchange, more than 62% of area residents have at least a bachelor’s degree. And it’s a diverse workforce as well — over 30% of our residents were born outside of the United States. That means that we have the education, skills, and creative thinking that today’s technology companies need to “invent the future.” And of course, we have the quality of life and natural beauty for which the Pacific Northwest has earned so much renown.
The cities of Bellevue and Kirkland, as well as OneRedmond, are working together to bring the next generation of innovative companies to the Eastside. Won’t you join us?