GeekWire Summit Preview: A glimpse of the future of tech, health, education, jobs and more


Our signature technology conference, the GeekWire Summit, kicks off next week. Now in its ninth year, this annual event is known for offering a glimpse of the future through the eyes of leaders in technology, science and business, and in these challenging and uncertain times, this annual tradition has never been more important.

You may have seen the news that Bill Gates has joined the lineup for an hour-long interview on Oct. 15. But the Microsoft co-founder and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-chair is just one element of a larger lineup. In this post and special episode of the GeekWire Podcast, my colleague John Cook and I offer a sneak preview of what’s in store.

The GeekWire Summit will be held virtually over three weeks, from Oct. 13 to 29, with sessions taking place twice weekly, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, from late morning to early afternoon. The full content can be accessed live and on-demand, exclusive to event attendees. Our event platform will offer attendees a chance to connect, network, and engage in the conversation.

Register here, listen below, and continue reading for highlights from the agenda. 

Tuesday, October 13: First day of the virtual Summit

Regence Health Tech Stage: The Race to a COVID-19 Vaccine

So much of what’s going to happen over the next year-and-a-half hinges on the timing, quality, and distribution of COVID 19 vaccines. That’s why we are excited to kick off the Summit with this panel.

Other GeekWire Summit sessions including the future of education, the future of travel, and the future of business, will be affected by the vaccine rollout. We will speak with leading experts in viral diseases about the progress being made toward a COVID-19 vaccine.

Panelists include:

Dr. Deb Fuller, professor of microbiology at the University of Washington and a previous guest on the GeekWire Health Tech podcast.

Dr. Lynda Stuart, deputy director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Dr. Melanie Ivarsson, chief development officer at Moderna, one of the major pharmaceutical companies with a vaccine candidate in Phase 3 tests.

Bank of America main stage: Leadership in Tumultuous Times: How Organizations Can Embrace Civic Responsibility

In 2020, individuals and organizations have been thinking more deeply about our efforts as community partners and the roles of leaders. In this wide-ranging conversation, panelists will provide real and actionable tools that organizational leaders can adopt to help drive positive change across their communities.

Panelists include:

Nick Huzar, co-founder and CEO of OfferUp

Dan Lewis, co-founder and CEO of Convoy

Michelle Merriweather, CEO of the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle

Following the panel, VIP ticket holders will be invited to a 20-minute discussion with speakers. If you already registered for a general admission pass and would like to upgrade to a VIP ticket for additional experiences like these, contact [email protected]

Panos Panay. (Microsoft Photo)

Bank of America main stage: Fireside chat with Microsoft Chief Product Officer Panos Panay

Our final session of the day will be a fireside chat with Microsoft Chief Product Officer Panos Panay. We’ll talk tech, remote work and how Microsoft will seize this new opportunity as the pandemic renews the relevance of desktop and laptop computers in our lives.

Panay rose to prominence in the tech industry as the leader of Microsoft’s Surface hardware business, most recently overseeing the development and launch of the dual-screen Surface Duo, and engineering the company’s unlikely partnership with Google on the device.

Thursday, October 15: A big day with Bill Gates

Bank of America Main Stage: Fireside chat with Bill Gates, co-chair of the Gates Foundation

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Bill Gates warned about the potential impact of an unchecked infectious virus years before the world faced COVID-19. Over the past nine months, the Microsoft co-founder and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has emerged as a leading advocate for a coordinated worldwide response to the pandemic, grounded in science and based on principles of global equality.

Now, he’s calling attention to the world’s impending environmental crisis, calling for practical goals and measurable solutions to address climate change, as he prepares to release a book on the topic next year. Meanwhile, the personal computer revolution he helped to lead as a young tech entrepreneur is proving more central to our lives than ever before. We’ll talk tech, science, innovation, global health and the future of the planet in this exclusive GeekWire Summit conversation with the iconic tech leader and philanthropist. This chat will be moderated by GeekWire co-founder and editor Todd Bishop.

Regence Health Tech Stage: How COVID-19 is Sparking a Telehealth Wave

Telehealth is playing a crucial role in both coronavirus screening and primary care as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Along with the shift to remote work, many patients have shifted to telehealth solutions, relying on the technology and digital platforms developed by health care providers and startups to access care. Will 2020 be the year telehealth truly goes mainstream? Our panelists are working at the forefront of this trend. Hear from Uplift Co-founder Dr. Amy Mezulis, Providence Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Amy Compton-Phillips, 98point6 Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brad Younggren and Doctor on Demand Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ian Tong.

Tuesday, October 20: Expedia Group CEO Peter Kern

Expedia Group CEO Peter Kern. (Expedia Group Photo)

Bank of America Main Stage: Fireside chat with Peter Kern, CEO of Expedia Group

Perhaps no industry has suffered more from the pandemic than the global travel business. Millions of business and leisure travelers are wondering when it will be safe to hop on that flight to New York or cruise to the Caribbean. We’ll discuss the prospects for a rebound and how the travel industry is innovating during these trying times in a fireside chat with newly-appointed Expedia Group CEO Peter Kern. Moderated by GeekWire co-founder Todd Bishop.

Regence Health Tech Stage: Investing in innovation at the intersection of IT and healthcare

Venture capitalists need to keep an eye on the future. In this session, we’ll hear from three investors who are spending time at the crossroads of technology and healthcare, exploring area such as telehealth, patient monitoring and the challenges tied to privacy and interoperability. Moderated by Dr. Robert Overell, president Foundation BioVentures.

Panelists include:

Emily Melton, co-founder of Threshold

Julie Sunderland, co-founder and managing director of Biomatics Capital

Nina Kjellson, general partner at Canaan Partners

Thursday, October 22: Education and Sana Biotechnology

Bank of America Main Stage: The Future of Education

Remote learning. Virtual commencements. Equitable access to technology. The challenges facing educators, institutions, parents and students are drastically different this fall as many campuses and schools remain empty. Hear from Dr. Maria Klawe, president of Harvey Mudd College; Jessie Woolley-Wilson, CEO of DreamBox Learning; and Diane Tavenner, co-founder and CEO of Summit Public Schools. Moderated by Tyra Mariani, president of Schultz Family Foundation and former deputy chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Education.

Regence Health Tech Stage: Fireside chat with Steve Harr, CEO of Sana Biotechnology

Founded by veterans of Juno Therapeutics, Sana Biotechnology is developing new ways to modify genes and replace damaged cells in the body, possibly pioneering new treatments for a number of diseases. After more than a year of secrecy and speculation, the company formally announced that it raised more than $700 million in venture funding in June. We’ll discuss the life sciences industry, the company’s vision for gene and cell therapies and what made investors so bullish with former Juno CFO and current Sana CEO Steve Harr. Moderated by Luke Timmerman, The Timmerman Report.

Tuesday, October 27: COVID-What the data tells us

How two health companies found common ground through data, sponsored session presented by Regence

A conversation with Jared Short, incoming CEO of Cambia Health Solutions, and Bill Robertson, CEO of MultiCare.

Regence Health Tech Stage: COVID-19: What The Data Tells Us

As COVID-19 spread, many focused on metrics: positive cases, hospitalizations, deaths and transmission rates. For our panelists, epidemiologist Dr. Trevor Bedford of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Dr. Vin Gupta of University of Washington, data is an essential tool to combat the disease, from genetic analyses to estimating the potential impacts of social distancing and universal masking. Moderated by CNBC technology and health reporter Christina Farr.

Thursday, October 29: Shaping the Future Workplace.

Shaping the Future Workplace, sponsored session presented by PayScale

COVID-19 and the social justice movement of 2020 changed the workplace forever. Now, organizations across the globe are adapting to a redefined working environment. How are companies navigating this transition with respect to compensation, pay equity, remote work and team culture? In this session, seasoned technology leaders will share what they’ve learned during the past 10 months, and provide insightful leadership lessons that can be applied to organizations both big and small. Moderated by Scott Torrey, CEO of PayScale.

Panelists include:

Henry Albrecht, CEO of Limeade

Yoko Miyashita, CEO of Leafly

Raj Singh, CEO of Accolade

Regence Health Tech Stage: The Transformation of Healthcare

New technologies, including the cloud and artificial intelligence, promise to drastically transform healthcare. What will it take for the benefits to reach end users? Hear from Dr. David Rhew, chief medical officer and VP of healthcare at Microsoft; Aashima Gupta, Director of Global Healthcare Solutions at Google Cloud and Rob Coppedge, CEO of Echo Health Ventures.

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