Mayor Ed Murray announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Seattle and the City of Shenzhen, China, to support biomedical research and the establishment of a joint institute between the University of Washington School of Medicine and Shenzhen-based BGI, one of the world’s largest genomics organizations.
The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) commits both cities to greater cooperation on issues of medical research and health care. UW and BGI signed a separate MOU in Shenzhen agreeing to collaborate on development of the joint institute.
“This agreement between the Cities of Seattle and Shenzhen will encourage and support meaningful cooperation between two global leaders of innovation in medical research and technology,” Murray said. “Ultimately, it will create new opportunities for our biotech and health care industries, and help advance pioneering medical technology that will benefit patients, doctors and communities around the globe.”
“We at the UW are looking forward to working alongside BGI in charting the future of genomics research, especially in accelerating the application of new sequencing technologies to human health,” said Dr. Jay Shendure, an M.D./Ph.D scientist and professor of genome sciences at the UW, and a national advisor on precision medicine initiatives.
The joint institute is part of BGI’s goal of developing an innovation center in Seattle. The City of Seattle looks forward to working with BGI on the process to develop this significant addition to the city’s innovation economy.
Shenzhen, a coastal city of over 10 million people, is considered the high-tech and life sciences hub of China. “With a sound foundation in the fields of biotech and health technology, a host of well-positioned industries have taken shape in Shenzhen, including gene medicine, polypeptide medicine, anti-tumor medicine, medical imaging equipment and life information monitoring,” according to the MOU.
The MOU was signed during the third day of a Murray-led trade delegation to three cities in China, which includes Hong Kong and Hangzhou. The mission is part of an ongoing effort to encourage more foreign direct investment in Seattle, expand economic opportunities for local companies, and establish international partnerships.
“We are thrilled to be part of this historic moment between Seattle and Shenzhen,” said Kristi Heim, president of the Washington State China Relations Council. “Deepening the partnerships between our two cities will support economic growth, scientific advancement and long-term collaboration in public health and environmental protection.”
The agreement builds on two earlier MOUs signed in 2015 between Seattle and Shenzhen pledging cooperation issues such as low carbon urban development, electric vehicles, information technology, life sciences, and people-to-people exchanges. Murray also hosted visits by Shenzhen Mayor Xu Qin and former Deputy Mayor Tang Jie.
The trade delegation includes: Murray, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, representatives from the Washington State China Relations Council, the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle, Alaska Airlines, Amazon, Boeing, Microsoft, Vulcan, and the University of Washington. They met with government officials and business representatives in Hong Kong and Shenzhen before Murray is joining a separate group of e-commerce companies on a trip organized by the Washington State China Relations Council to the City of Hangzhou.
For most of its history, Seattle has had deep cultural connections to China. Throughout the trip, Murray will seek to deepen those ties as he meets with local officials and business representatives.