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Written by @Eric Eide A few weeks ago we held another one of our intimate business leader dinners, this time at Shady Canyon in Irvine to connect leaders from business and academia to discuss the amazing assets as well as the challenges of the Orange County innovation ecosystem. The group immediately jumped into an intensely productive conversation that didn’t end until the dessert dishes were cleared. These leaders were not only highly engaged, but were actively organizing to implement solutions locally that can help ensure their community becomes a thriving business center that supports entrepreneurship. For example, UC Irvine Chancellor Howard ...
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Written by: @Steve Gilison It appears that British Columbia residents are starting to get used to their newest A-list immigrant from the UK, Prince Harry, Meghan, and Baby Archie, who have chosen to make a new life for themselves in Canada. It's a bold move. Reinventing yourself is different in the best of conditions. Imagine trying to do it with the added burden of roles steeped in the traditions of monarchy and indelibly linked to your identity. So, when Heaghan (sorry-not-sorry for lame ' ship ' name) find they have outgrown the tranquility of British Columbia - fyi, Canada's 24th ranked city for innovation/startups - I propose they relocate ...
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When we think of “innovation”, we typically envision caffeinated startup founders working through the night in a basement or garage, bootstrapping their ventures and stretching every penny of funding they scraped from friends and family. But, in reality a lot of innovation is driven by larger corporations and so I propose that in 2020 we resolve to broaden our view of innovation to include these pillars of our communities who contribute so much to the ecosystem. I was reminded of this during a recent visit to a Southern California Edison (SCE) Lab based in Westminster, CA. SCE has several labs where teams of engineers look for innovative solutions to crucial ...
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We were thrilled to see San Diego included in the top five superstar metropolitan areas in the Brookings Institution's new report " The Case for Growth Centers ." The study calls attention to five superstar metro areas: Boston, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, and San Diego - that are capturing a greater national share of innovation sector jobs. Metro areas like San Diego have reason to celebrate - innovation sectors create high paying jobs and provide economic benefits to their metros, including additional tax revenue.  At the Alliance we seek to nurture and accelerate the growth of a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem across Southern California and San ...
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When describing how the Alliance serves the entrepreneurial ecosystem in SoCal, we often like to compare ourselves to NATO because we act as a neutral organizing body to coordinate efforts between the local innovation hubs in the region and help them build out their infrastructure. Also, in most respects we work directly with the leaders (“Generals”) and not the soldiers who, in this analogy, are the founders and entrepreneurs. And like NATO, we occasionally convene a large group of leaders for a Summit, which we successfully accomplished on November 14th at the Research Park at UC Irvine for our first annual SoCal Ecosystem Leadership Forum . The forum ...
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At our recent Alliance advisory board dinner, Larry Sonsini (Advisory Board chair and the evening’s host) asked the group how to best unlock the potential of SoCal’s innovation ecosystem so that it performs in line with its potential (i.e. the mission of the Alliance). The 20 guests tasked with this whopper of a topic included VCs, corporate leaders, and startup CEOs who largely agreed that the ingredients are in place but that we have a problem with our “story”. This notion of story is nuanced — nobody was suggesting we enlist fictions and special effects to obscure the reality and gloss over our shortcomings. This was a call for a strategy with tactics ...
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Every great start-up is built around a bold idea - usually one that most people think is either crazy or impossible. The bold idea behind the Alliance is to fully realize the amazing innovation and start-up potential of the SoCal region. Really? A humble non-profit, just starting out, is going to "bend the curve" on the number and quality of SoCal start-ups that bring break-through ideas to the world? That's both crazy and impossible! Or is it? After two years on analyzing, mapping, meeting, connecting, and planning we have, indeed, found a path to bring this bold idea to life. Believe it or not, there is a way for a small organization to lunch way above ...
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What happens when you gather a Nobel Prize winner, CEOs of highly successful start-ups, and industry leaders for a delicious meal and a thoughtful discussion about innovation? We found out earlier this summer as we gathered a distinguished group of guests at the historic Hale Solar Laboratory for the first of a series of intimate SoCal innovation leadership dinners. The site is a local architectural gem, tucked away on a tree lined residential street in Pasadena, in the private backyard of distinguished local architects Stefanos Polyzoides and Elizabeth Moule. Our evening’s guest of honor was Frances Arnold, 2018 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry and Professor ...
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A key principle at the Alliance is that innovation communities must focus on the founders’ journey while solutions must remove friction and obstacles to entrepreneurship and startup growth. In my last post, I mapped the distinct SoCal innovation communities and discussed the different community types based on the presence of key stakeholder groups. In this piece, I turn from where startup activity is concentrated in SoCal to how these communities can grow. In collaboration with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), we interviewed over 60 community members across SoCal innovation stakeholder groups to understand the range of frictions entrepreneurs face. BCG ...
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While Silicon Beach is home to nearly 600 startups, which include high profile unicorns such as Bird and Snap, it is but one concentrated tech hub within SoCal (Santa Barbara to San Diego) that contains an additional 3,000 innovative startups. The diversity of ideas and people working within a wide range of increasingly converging industries such as agriculture, biotech, entertainment, and information technology, are assets that fuel innovation in our region. Nonetheless, the region’s sheer size with over 24 million people stretching across 50,000 square miles can make it difficult for residents and outsiders alike to navigate. In order to unlock the region’s ...
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A recent family vacation to Israel and Greece forced me to briefly step back from my single-minded focus on our upcoming Diversity Innovation Forum on April 30 ( click here for more information and registration ). However, the powerful themes of the event colored my reflections while touring these ancient cradels of civilization, especially on the long plane rides and downtime that I spent reading Yuval Noah Harai's brilliant NY Times best selling book Sapiens (Harper) .  I had also been thinking about a recent Frances Arnold speech where she mentions biology's embrace of diversity as the key to survival. She related it to her journey to being awarded ...
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As an Alliance devoted to “innovation”, we’ve done a lot of thinking about the meaning of the word and how to best harness it to create economic gain for the region. Last year we engaged Bulldog Drummond , an extremely talented brand agency based in San Diego, to help us articulate the power and essence of SoCal’s unique innovation ecosystem. Among the many insights they uncovered, here’s one that has proven prescient: Whether it was Hollywood of the 50s, the cultural revolution of the 60s, the green movement of the 70s or the tech revolution of the last few decades, SoCal innovators have always lived and breathed new ideas. From Santa Barbara to San ...
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There are a lot of places where you’ll find people who look the same, dress the same and talk the same but that’s probably not how you think of Southern California where conformity is more elusive than the endzone in the Super Bowl (ahem, Rams). Unlike some of the other innovation epicenters around the globe, we’re not into just one thing — we’re into exploring the frontiers of personal genomics, the furthest reaches of space, the intersection between content and media, the future of our global food supply — and that’s just to name a few. When you layer in the massive abundance of cultures, nationalities and perspectives that reside in the region, SoCal ...
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In my new role as the first executive director for the Alliance for Southern California Innovation, I spent a lot of time outside of my home turf of Pasadena — visiting innovation nodes such as San Diego, Irvine, Riverside, Santa Barbara, Venice, Santa Monica, and others. What was most striking was the diversity and breadth of the node-network that defines the region–so complex and at times, overwhelming. I met with many deeply talented entrepreneurs, researchers, investors, community organizers and professionals who are thriving in these separate yet overlapping (and interdependent) ecosystems. Read More #AllianceNew
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Steve Poizner, the former California gubernatorial candidate and former founder of SnapTrack (which he sold to San Diego’s Qualcomm), says he has created a new group called the Alliance for Southern California Innovation, which will focus on further developing Southern California’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Read More #AllianceNew
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The ingredients are in place for SoCal to emerge as the next major global tech ecosystem. The region’s challenge is to successfully navigate a short list of critical steps necessary to make that happen. Read More #AllianceNew
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Alliance Commits to Integrated Program Strategy to Enhance Ecosystem Since our launch in 2017 , community members have often asked how a small non-profit like the Alliance could possibly have a meaningful impact on a region of almost 20 million people spread across 6 counties and 10,000 square miles with an economy of $1.2 trillion dollars (15th largest economy globally). A very reasonable question and one that I frequently contemplate myself. Though we had some hunches informed by BCG’s strategic consulting work , we decided it was best to take that question to key SoCal community leaders and see what recommendations they might have. In the months of ...
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It seems like every day there’s another huge funding or acquisition announcement that, while awesome, makes one wonder how this pace can be sustainable. According to Pitchbook, US VC firms are on pace to set a fundraising record this year with over $40B raised so far. Exhibit A: in one week in October, we saw announcements of mega-funding like TigerGlobal ($3.75B), Thrive Capital ($1B), Bessemer’s 10th fund ($1.85B). Later this year, Sequoia is expected to announce an $8B growth fund. Wow. Thanks in part to mega-deals in the first three quarters of 2018, investors already broke the record for annual deal value and are on pace to deploy over $100B this ...
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The recently published article in the Economist titled “ Why startups are leaving Silicon Valley ” expertly describes the waning dominance long held by Silicon Valley, especially the larger forces at work in the rise of the global innovation economy. This was echoed days later by panelists at TechCrunch Disrupt who cited similar data points like cost of living, the availability of good talent outside of SV and SF, and the impact of the mega companies sucking up all the resources which has started to make scaling a company in the Bay Area less attractive. So, is Silicon Valley becoming a gigantic incubator that spawns great startups who then need to leave ...
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After hosting the SoCal First Look event at UCLA on June 20, the Alliance staff took a beat to reflect on the progress we’ve made so far and to plan the next phase of our fledgling organization. Our first two events showcased some of the top SoCal startups and entrepreneurs — prime examples of the region’s strengths — in order to educate and connect investors directly to opportunities in SoCal. The rationale for these events was based on the invaluable analysis and recommendations from The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) who compared the SoCal region to other leading tech hubs around the world using a variety of criteria (see graphic below). Source: “Stars ...
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