In January 2015, UW CoMotion (formerly Center for Commercialization) hosted a panel innovation leaders to discuss UW's role in regional innovation, entrepreneurship, and growth.
Panelists included Chris DeVore: Co-founder and Managing Partner at Founders’ Co-op and Managing Director of Techstars Seattle, Babak Parviz: Vice President at Amazon, Shwetak Patel: Washington Research Foundation Entrepreneurship Endowed Professor in Computer Science & Engineering and Electrical Engineering at the University of Washington, Arthur Rubinfeld: Chief Creative Officer at Starbucks, President of Global Innovation, Julie Sandler: Principal at Madrona Venture Group, and Irene Plenefisch (for DeLee Shoemaker): Director of Government Affairs at Microsoft.
Discussion topics ranged from environmental and energy challenges, to healthcare and disease, living conditions, housing, and transportation. Panelists acknowledged that developing innovation skills in students is vital for a healthy innovation ecosystem, both short- and long-term. Also highlighted was the fact that many students enter the university to change the world which corresponds well UW's goal of helping solve the world's grand challenges.