This fall, the Global Innovation Exchange will welcome its first student cohort, representing the culmination of close to five years of planning, and a first-of-its kind alliance between the University of Washington, Tsinghua University in China, Microsoft, the local real estate community and more.

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At a meeting of the Washington chapter of NAIOP Wednesday, GIX officials and members of the team who designed the building where the program will be housed detailed the genesis of the program and its future ambitions. The program will be housed in a three-story, 100,000-square-foot structure in Bellevue’s Spring District project, and the first class will include 40 students from across the globe — U.S., China, India, France, Taiwan, Switzerland, Paraguay, Estonia and Canada.

GIX is looking ahead with a 20-year model, with plans to double its class size each year and expects more than 3,000 students to graduate over the next 10 years. GIX will create new degrees and utilize online education to reach that goal, in addition to partnering with other universities around the world.

As the project team was planning and building the GIX campus, there was plenty of academic work to do. The schools needed to put together a curriculum, bring in faculty and figure out what they wanted the building to look like.

The faculty will be teachers from UW and Tsinghua, many of whom have experience in the startup world. The program will also call on local tech leaders to mentor and assist students as they put their projects together.

And the building will reflect that. GIX will be light on lecture halls, and instead focus on lab space, collaboration areas and other high tech spaces for students to develop their products. The days of spending eight hours straight in classrooms listening to lectures are fading to a more hands-on curriculum.

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