To build and maintain good relationships longer term, the two countries need strong commercial, social and educational ties. GIX works toward this on several levels, especially by training students who could end up leading multinational companies to collaborate and prepare for the global market.

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The United States’ escalating tensions with China highlight the value of GIX, the graduate school launched in Bellevue by the University of Washington, Microsoft and Tsinghua University.

GIX graduated its first class of students last weekend and is now planning to double the program, to 80 students. It’s also broadening beyond two master’s degrees in technology innovation and engineering to add executive and lifelong-learning programs.

GIX stands for Global Innovation Exchange. It’s a new approach to educating graduate students to innovate and commercialize their ideas, with an international, hands-on program involving local companies and nonprofit organizations.

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Faculty is provided by the UW and Tsinghua, an elite research university in Beijing. Seven other universities are now involved, including schools based in India, Israel, Canada and Switzerland.

“It’s really education meets innovation — the skill sets when you go out and lead a team or a company as a startup,” said Vikram Jandhyala, co-executive director of GIX and UW vice president for innovation strategy.

Student projects include an automatic sales forecasting system for clothing retailers and manufacturers, a concept store and app for AT&T retail outlets and an artificial-intelligence-driven app that interprets chicken vocalizations and notifies farmers when the birds are in distress.

U.S. relations with China are strained on several fronts, including unfair trade policies, intellectual-property theft and military expansion in the South China Sea. Tariffs and diplomacy are part of the current response.

To build and maintain good relationships longer term, the two countries need strong commercial, social and educational ties. GIX works toward this on several levels, especially by training students who could end up leading multinational companies to collaborate and prepare for the global market.

The next class, already studying at GIX, is 40 percent female and has students from seven countries, Jandhyala noted.

Bellevue’s Spring District is proving to be a good location for the school. Jandhyala said early concerns about housing students haven’t materialized as many are living in new apartments built near the school. The experience might also show GIX graduates that the Eastside is a good place to launch and grow their companies.

Congratulations on a strong first year, GIX. What a promising addition to the region’s business and education community.