Helping to build the
transportation system of the future

What is MIC?

Seattle is a powerful influence on the world and we are inventing every day.

But with this success comes real challenges. Our transportation system is challenged. As one of the fastest growing regions in the world, our aging infrastructure and systems are not keeping pace with demand and our tools to manage traffic are becoming out of date. These challenges call for a new partnership to solve a problem that impacts us all.

Mobility Innovation Center Background

The University of Washington and Challenge Seattle — a private sector initiative of 17 of the Seattle region’s CEOs to address issues that will determine the region’s future — are committed to advancing our region’s economy and our quality of life by helping to build the transportation system of the future.

Advancing our region’s goal to be a global leader in building a smart city transportation system, the University of Washington and Challenge Seattle have partnered to create a new Mobility Innovation Center.

This multi-disciplinary Center will bring together the region’s leading expertise from the business, government, and academic sectors to use technology and innovation to find transportation solutions.

Housed at CoMotion at the University of Washington, the Mobility Innovation Center will tackle specific transportation challenges, using applied research and experimentation.

Cross-sector teams will attack regional mobility problems, develop new technologies, apply system-level thinking, and bring new innovations to our regional transportation system.

Our Innovation Process


To ensure a robust economy and quality of life for the region, Seattle needs an integrated transportation system that is reliable, safe, environmentally sustainable, forward looking, equitable and accessible.


To accomplish the vision, everyone must be part of the solution. The Mobility Innovation Center will bring together the knowledge, talents, and expertise of the University of Washington and private and public sector partners to solve real-world challenges facing our transportation system.

How We Work

The Mobility Innovation Center will focus on:

  • Short-term projects with 6-9 month deliverables;
  • Research that can be applied in the real world;
  • Technology and policy-driven solutions;
  • Working with partners who are willing and able to test or implement the Center’s prototypes or recommendations

The goal of the center is to examine the readiness of our city’s infrastructure, people, technologies and public policies to incorporate new mobility technologies and modalities.

We don’t do research for research’s sake.

We search the globe for the most interesting, cutting-edge solutions and craft the approach and solution that will work for the greater Seattle region.


The Center is funded through discreet project-specific grants and broader grants that support the overall mission of the Center and its work.

Metrics of Success

Our primary metric of success is impact. We will measure success through the number of timely deliverables created and the number of solutions implemented to improve mobility throughout the region.

Current Projects

Innovation Frameworks for Smart Cities

Smart cities across the US are exploring new ways to use technology and innovation to combat traffic congestion and create thriving communities. In a partnership with the Mobility Innovation Center at CoMotion, the Seattle Department of Transportation commissioned a study of six US cities that have been experimenting with the levers of transportation management.

Read more | Download Report

Improved Incident Response on I-5: Using Technology to Speed Clearance

Jointly supported by the Seattle Department of Transportation and the Washington State Department of Transportation, in partnership with emergency responders and other transit agencies, this project examines how technology and other solutions could be leveraged to improve incident clearance and enhance regional incident response on the I-5 corridor.

Read more | Download Report

Driverless Seattle – How Cities Can Plan for Automated Vehicles

The University of Washington’s Tech Policy Lab brought together a multi-disciplinary team of researchers from Urban Design and Planning, Law, Business, and Communications to study how the city of Seattle and other municipalities should plan given the future of autonomous vehicles.

Read more | Download Report

The Mobility Innovation Center is working on several exciting projects.

See all projects

Future Projects

Open for New Ideas

Great ideas can come from anywhere and the Mobility Innovation Center is open to project requests from anyone. Projects must serve the transportation system of the Greater Seattle region and have a partner who is willing and able to implement or pilot project outcomes.

Examples of future projects may examine how to influence social behavior related to transportation and the sharing economy; policy recommendations for the adoption and integration of new mobility technologies; the development of apps to provide users real-time travel and mode options; intelligent sequencing of the I-5 corridor to increase traffic flow; data sharing between public and private sector transportation agencies to improve traffic management and reduce congestion, and many more.

If you have an idea for a project for the Mobility Innovation Center, please contact us.

Partners & Advisors

Challenge Seattle

Challenge Seattle is a private sector initiative led by 17 of the region’s CEOs formed to ensure that greater Seattle continues to thrive as one of the most vibrant, innovative and globally competitive regions in the world by recognizing the uniqueness of our people, our culture and our pioneering companies.

Among its four goals, Challenge Seattle seeks to develop world-leading infrastructure that drives our future growth and vitality and improves quality of life.

Learn more about Challenge Seattle and its vision for Transportation in the Seattle region here.

CoMotion at the University of Washington

CoMotion at the University of Washington is the collaborative innovation hub dedicated to expanding the societal impact of the UW community. By developing and connecting local and global innovation ecosystems, CoMotion helps innovators achieve the greatest impact from their discoveries.

Advisory Committee

The Mobility Innovation Center is guided by an accomplished team of advisors representing leaders in industry, government, and the nonprofit sectors.

Genesee Adkins Chief of Staff, Seattle Department of Transportation

Genesee oversees government relations and communications efforts for the department and serves as the primary point of contact for the mayor's office at SDOT. Genesee has worked on transportation policy, projects, and financing for more than 16 years between Washington, DC and Washington state, including 14 years as a full-time lobbyist in Olympia for the University of Washington, King County, Seattle, and non-profit advocacy organizations.

Gov. Chris Gregoire CEO, Challenge Seattle

Christine Gregoire is a lifelong public servant and advocate for education, jobs and government reform. She is a University of Washington graduate and was the first woman to be elected Attorney general in Washington State. She served three terms as AG before being elected Governor in 2004. Since leaving office in 2012, Gregoire has chaired the Import-Export Bank Advisory Committee and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Board. She helped found Challenge Seattle in 2015, becoming the organizations first CEO.

Paula Hammond Senior Vice President | Parsons Brinckerhoff

Paula Hammond is the National Transportation Market Leader for WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, responsible for representing the company as an industry leader in the emerging field of transportation innovation. Before joining WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, Paula served 34 years with the Washington State Department of Transportation, most recently as Washington’s Secretary of Transportation from 2007-2013.

Eric Horvitz Director, Microsoft Research Lab

Eric’s research contributions span theoretical and practical challenges with computing systems that learn from data and that can perceive, reason, and decide. His efforts have helped to bring multiple systems and services into the world, including innovations in transportation, healthcare, ecommerce, and aerospace. He has been elected fellow of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Association for the Advancement of AI (AAAI), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the Washington State Academy of Sciences.

Vikram Jandhyala UW Vice President for Innovation Strategy

Vikram is UW Vice President for Innovation Strategy, Executive Director of CoMotion, UW's collaborative innovation hub, and the UW co-Executive Director of the Global Innovation Exchange.  He is a Professor and former Chair in the Department of Electrical Engineering, and an Adjunct Professor in the Information School. Vikram Jandhyala received the BTech in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi in 1989, and the MS and PhD degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1995 and 1998, respectively. An entrepreneur and innovator, Vikram helped found Nimbic, a venture-backed simulations company which was later acquired by Mentor Graphics.

Nikolaus Lang

Dr. Nikolaus S. Lang is a Senior Partner in the Munich office of The Boston Consulting Group and a core member of its Automotive and Industrial Goods practices. He is BCG's topic leader for mobility, connectivity and autonomy and has consulted many clients across a wide range of industries on these topics recently. Having lived ten years in Asia and having worked in most of the world’s emerging markets, he also supports his Europe-based clients on an array of innovation and globalization-related topics that range from global R&D networks and BRIC sourcing strategies to global-manufacturing-footprint designs and emerging-market entry strategies. Nikolaus Lang holds a PhD, summa cum laude, in business administration and an MBA from the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland.

Roger Millar Secretary of Transportation, Washington State

Roger Millar serves as the chief executive officer for an agency of approximately 6,800 employees statewide and a budget of $7.4 billion. WSDOT is the steward of a multimodal transportation system and responsible for ensuring that people and goods move safely and efficiently. In addition to building, maintaining, and operating the state highway system, WSDOT is responsible for the state ferry system, and works in partnership with others to maintain and improve local roads, railroads, airports, public transportation systems, and bicycle and pedestrian facilities Roger is an experienced land use and transportation engineer, planner, and program manager with an international reputation for innovative approaches to conservation and development. He built his reputation by leading organizations that plan and deliver successful community-based solutions for state, regional, and local governments.

Babak Parviz Vice President, Amazon

Babak received his BA in Literature from University of Washington, BS in Electronics from Sharif University of Technology, MS in Physics from University of Michigan, MS and PhD in Electrical Engineering from Univ. of Michigan; and completed his postdoctoral fellowship in Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University. Prior to joining Amazon he was a Google Distinguished Engineer and a Director at Google [x], where he created Google Glass, co-founded the smart contact lens program, and founded the robotic surgery program. His interests span novel computing and communication paradigms, high-tech with social impact, bionanotechnology, nano-scale devices, and photonics. His work has been put on display at the London Museum of Science and has received numerous recognitions and awards including NSF Career Award, MIT Technology Review 35, Time magazine’s best invention of the year (2008 and 2012), IEEE CAS Industrial Pioneer Award, Your Health Top 10 Medical advance of the year, and top invention and has been reported on in thousands of articles worldwide.

Spencer Reeder Philanthropic Initiatives, Vulcan

Spencer Reeder leads the climate and energy work within Paul Allen’s philanthropy group at Vulcan. Spencer’s career spans over two decades of academic, government, and private-sector work in domestic and international science, technology, and related policy, including leading USAID’s climate work in Vietnam under the agency’s Climate Change Resilience Development program. Spencer served as a climate policy strategist within Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire’s administration and prior to that conducted geophysical field research in Central Asia, South America, and Antarctica. Spencer is a lead author for the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the 2014 National Climate Assessment and earned an M.S. in Aerospace Engineering Sciences from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Washington.

Peter Rogoff CEO, Sound Transit

Before joining Sound Transit, Peter served since July 2014 as Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy in the U.S. Department of Transportation, the department’s third highest-ranking official. In that role he led the development of policies for the department, generating proposals and guidance regarding legislative, regulatory and safety initiatives. His work spanned all transportation modes, including aviation, highway, rail, transit and maritime transportation. Prior to his FTA appointment, Peter served for 22 years on the staff of the Senate Appropriations Committee, including 14 years as the Democratic Staff Director of the Transportation Subcommittee, led by Sen. Patty Murray of Washington and Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey.

Rachel Smith Chief of Staff for King County Executive Dow Constantine

Rachel has nearly 15 years of experience in government affairs, advocacy, and strategic advising at the local, regional, state, and federal levels.  She currently serves as Chief of Staff for King County Executive Dow Constantine where she is responsible for administration of the Executive’s staff, directing strategic initiatives, and external and internal policy coordination. 

Rachel has worked extensively on transportation issues in the Puget Sound region; as Government and Community Relations Officer for Sound Transit and also in the administration of Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. Rachel is a Board member of the non-profit transit advocacy group Transportation Choices Coalition.


Marcus Welz President & CEO, Siemens’ Intelligent Traffic Systems

As the world market leader in traffic technology, Siemens offers their customers all the necessary elements and complete solutions from a single source, keeping urban and interurban traffic moving. In his role, Marcus Welz is responsible for the US-based Siemens Intelligent Traffic Systems’ including all functions such as marketing, sales, R&D, product management, manufacturing, project management, and customer service. He is also responsible for driving the strategic direction of the business. Marcus Welz holds a Business Administration degree from Munich University of Applied Science and a Master of Science Degree in Energy Engineering from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

Howard S. Wright Chair, Seattle Hospitality Group

Howard is an industry leader in hotel, restaurant, travel, and tourism in Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington. He is a graduate of Washington State University with a degree in Latin America Studies, and a graduate of Harvard Business School. Mr. Wright has a passion for Latin America, having spent several years in service learning programs most recently in Guatemala. In addition to several corporate boards, he has served, or is on the boards of the Market Foundation; the Funhouse Commons (an afterschool and youth drop-in center on Orcas Island); the Museum of Art at Washington State University; and the Amigos de las Americas Foundation.

UW Faculty Expertise

This group consists of UW faculty consultants in mobility.

University Research Partners

The Center works with a suite of globally-recognized research organizations within the University of Washington.

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