Commerce awards first round of economic development grants to five high-growth industries

Innovation Cluster Accelerator commits $3 million to launch inaugural cohort

OLYMPIA, WA – Recognizing that supporting innovation is essential to driving the transformation of legacy industries and rise of new clusters that will fuel statewide economic growth, the Washington State Department of Commerce recently launched the first cohort of an Innovation Cluster Accelerator. Five organizations will each receive up to $550,000 along with strategic guidance and support to build and run an innovation cluster in a target industry.

innovation Cluster Accelerator logo“From information technology to aerospace, agriculture to clean energy, Washington state innovations have a history of global impact,” said Commerce Director Lisa Brown. “Identifying and supporting the innovation clusters is a long-term strategy to accelerate growth in key industries with the potential to change lives and become economic engines that strengthen communities and create jobs for the future.”

The organizations selected for the starting round of the accelerator support will bring together industry leaders with academic and government partners, entrepreneurs and investors to accelerate research and development, support start ups, and increase access to capital and global markets.

The first clusters and their focus industries are:

  • Enterprise Digital Growth Ecosystem (EDGE) Cluster, led by the 5G Open Innovation Lab – using edge computing and 5G to digitally transform agriculture, energy and utilities, healthcare, manufacturing and transportation and logistics.
  • Advanced Technology Cluster, led by the Washington Technology Industry Association – using quantum computing and distributed ledger technologies (blockchain) to grow advanced technologies and maintain Washington’s technology leadership.
  • Consortium for Hydrogen and Renewable Generated E-Fuels (CHARGE), led by WSU’s Joint Center for Deployment and Research in Earth and Abundant Materials (JCDREAM) – exploring the use of hydrogen to decarbonize heavy-duty transport, aviation and shipping and reduce reliance on non-renewable fuel sources.
  • Decarbonizing the Built Environment Cluster, led by The Clean Tech Alliance – advancing the development and adoption of clean technologies to decarbonize elements of the built environment including human-made structures, features such as energy and transportation, and facilities where people live and work.
  • Washington VERTical, led by the Port of Benton – accelerating the transition to clean, renewable and non-emitting energy production sources by 2025 through advanced nuclear power technologies.

Washington’s Innovation Cluster Accelerator is supported by a $15 million CARES Act investment by the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA). Successful innovation cluster programs around the world served as a blueprint for Washington’s accelerator strategy, including Canada’s Superclusters Initiative, the Norwegian Innovation Clusters, and Washington Maritime Blue, which will participate in cohort activities.

“This support will accelerate Central Washington’s growth into a global clean energy hub to support decarbonization and develop new clean energy sources,”  said Diahann Howard, Executive Director, Port of Benton. “Washington VERTical will create an industry-led supply chain alliance, and the cluster will support all levels of businesses, access our highly skilled workforce and create advanced manufacturing opportunities for the state. The Port of Benton is thankful to our local state legislators, community and industry partners for their support to secure this opportunity for the region.”

“We are proud to have the Enterprise Digital Growth Ecosystem Cluster (EDGE) selected for the Innovation Cluster Accelerator,” says Jim Brisimitzis, Founder and Managing Partner/5G Open Innovation Lab. “The early work we accomplished through the 5G Innovation Partner Zone (IPZ) has built a foundation of public/private partnerships which the EDGE Cluster will take forward and build upon. The EDGE Cluster sits at the intersection of technology enablement, industrial transformations, and ecosystem innovation. The future ahead is bright.”

Four more clusters will be added early this year, expanding geographic and industry impact throughout the state. Get updates and follow the Innovation Cluster Accelerator at


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