The Innovation Opportunity

George Mason has long pursued a vision of the university as an economic and innovation engine for Northern Virginia. The university’s current ten-year strategic plan directly lays out investments in multidisciplinary institutes to drive progress in key research areas, such as sustainability and digital innovation. These efforts will generate innovations to address the world’s critical challenges and bolster the region’s economy by educating the diverse, technology-savvy workforce of the future.

In late 2018, a dramatic opportunity emerged when Amazon, the world leader in e-commerce, announced it would locate the company’s second corporate headquarters in Arlington, where Mason already has a major campus. Behind the scenes, a team from George Mason University had been collaborating with state and local government officials, other higher education institutions, and business leaders to develop the proposal that would enable Northern Virginia to best dozens of contenders across North America.

One key to the commonwealth’s winning bid was its focus on long-term, continuing investments in higher education to produce the growing supply of workforce talent needed by Amazon and hundreds of other employers. Legislation passed in 2019 to fund the state’s Tech Talent Investment Program (TTIP) commits more than $900 million in public funds over 20 years, establishing a goal for Virginia to produce at least 25,000 additional graduates in computer-related fields by 2039. Mason will play an essential role in meeting this goal through the planned launch of a new School of Computing, the first in Virginia and expansion of its Arlington campus with the addition of the Institute for Digital InnovAtion headquarters building.