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Cascadia Innovation Corridor Conference 2017 – Financial Innovation and Cross Border Discussion

Photo caption l-r  Tom Alberg, Glenn Kelman, CEO, Redfin, Heather Redman, Founder, Flying Fish Partners, Jeff Sinclair, Co-Founder and CEO, EventBase,  Scott Jacobson, Managing Director, Madrona Venture Group, Alexandre Guertin, Associate, Kensington Capital Partners

The second annual Cascadia Innovation Corridor Conference just concluded and the conference continues to spur ideas and cooperation between the metro areas of Seattle, WA and Vancouver, BC.  This conference brings together business, government and university leaders from both cities to talk about tech policy, life sciences, transportation and other aspects of our lives in the Pacific NW that bind us together and are areas for collaboration.

At the conference Madrona and Microsoft worked together to introduce the Financial Innovation Network (FIN)  – a Seattle /Vancouver group to be launched this fall. Announced by Microsoft President, Brad Smith, in his opening keynote he said of FIN “The key for success especially for this region is to frankly become bigger. What this Financial Innovation Network allows us to do is just that. It enables us to bring together startups and double our scale. This is a great example of how we can compete as a region and no longer think apart.”

As articulated by Madrona Managing Director, Tom Alberg, at the start of his “Spurring Increased Venture Capital Investment in the Corridor” panel yesterday, the purpose of the Financial Innovation Network is twofold: 1) To encourage more cross-border investment in early stage companies by creating a network to bring in more foreign capital and to work with existing local sources to increase investment. 2) to help develop a financial cluster of institutions and fintech companies that collaborate and create a powerful fintech and financial institutional presence in each city. While Vancouver ranks ahead of Seattle in international finance, Seattle has great tech to offer.

Tom’s fellow panelists agreed that both cities can benefit from increased access to capital, especially in order for startups to reach proper scale on a timeline that investors expect.

The long-term FIN strategic objective is the creation of an integrated financial services cluster that competes directly with other similar-sized International Financial Centers (IFC), such as Boston, Dublin, Shenzhen, Munich, and Melbourne. Initial FIN programs will include promotion of coordinated digital economy cross-border investments with an emphasis on fintech, mixed reality, artificial intelligence, intelligent apps and quantum computing.  The group will be administered by a cross border executive committee and Rex Hughes, a Madrona advisor.