SoCal Ecosystem Leadership Forum

November 14 2019 

UC Irvine Research Park – Conference Center

5301 California Avenue, Irvine, CA 92617

10:00am – 7:00pm

The SoCal Alliance will convene a select cross-section of leaders from across the region for a professionally facilitated workshop.

Workshop Overview


There are common challenges and opportunities that unite the often fragmented, geographically dispersed hubs of innovation throughout Southern California. The Alliance for SoCal Innovation’s (“the Alliance”) analysis of the region, in partnership with the Boston Consulting Group, has revealed that there is little coordination among these compelling pockets of innovation to address common issues. However, the Alliance believes aligning best practices, external messaging, and delivery of services and resources are necessary to harness the collective potential of the region’s innovation assets to make Southern California the next great innovation ecosystem.

To this end, the Alliance will convene a diverse cross section of leaders from across the region for a professionally facilitated one-day intensive workshop to generate clarity of purpose, goals, and a coordinated strategy to tackle shared challenges and opportunities. This will likely be the first of an ongoing annual regional planning workshops focused on uniting and leveraging the diverse and compelling innovation nodes that define the SoCal innovation network.

Event Goals

  • Convene SoCal’s regional leaders to align best practices, external messaging, and delivery of services and resources to harness the collective potential of the region’s innovation assets to make SoCal the next great innovation ecosystem
  • Unify, connect and engage the top leaders who represent the compelling innovation nodes that define the SoCal innovation network
  • Achieve a collective clarity of purpose, goals, and a coordinated strategy to tackle the shared challenges and opportunities across SoCal
  • Create and galvanize an ongoing innovation leadership group that can tackle current and future regional hurdles to innovation

Leadership Workshop

The core of the engagement will be a daylong workshop at which approximately 50 key stakeholders from across the region – e.g. CEOs, founders, industry experts, elected officials and other top policymakers, economic development experts, academics, and regional planners — will discuss topics of mutual interest.

Our work with BCG revealed a core set of challenges and opportunities around themes such as geography, diversity, access to capital, attracting and retaining talent, and the importance of dismantling false narratives.

The workshop will include various components such as presentations, panels, breakout groups, etc.


8:30 AM Tour of the Cove @UCI + University Lab Partners 

5270 California Avenue, Irvine, CA, 92617 Informal sneak peek tour of the newly constructed facilities 

9:30 AM Getting Started 

Conference Center: 5301 California Avenue, Irvine, CA, 92617 Informal breakfast and Check-in Meet leaders and attendees, explore the space, suggest additional burning topics 

10:00 AM Welcome 

Gene Sykes: Chairman, Alliance for SoCal Innovation; Doug Holte: President, Irvine Company Office Properties; Dr. Diana Joseph: Workshop Facilitator 

Learning the Landscape Introductions: Name, Org, what you want from the day Spectrum: Learn who is here and how you’re connected 

Discussion Round One: Centers of Gravity Goal: Ground ourselves in the entrepreneur’s experience to reveal the financial, physical and informational resources we have in each center of gravity in SoCal. What surprising or unique resources do we have in each area? What challenges and gaps can we address by working across all of SoCal? 

[All attendees will self-divide into three discussion groups] Breakout group discussion leaders: Alex Bates, NeoCortex Ventures; Erin Beck, Wana; Anderee Berengian, Cie / RezVen 

Lock in the Learning Share group findings to the full meeting and make them stronger. Captured by graphic recorder Alece 

12:45 PM Lunch On Site 

1:45 PM Discussion Round Two: Connective Tissue 

Topic 1: Mapping How can we take what we know about the ecosystem and turn it into a map? Discussion leader: Carolyn Hull, LAEDC 

Topic 2: Relationships Drive Trust Which Drives Action What needs to happen in the world so we grow these relationships? Discussion leader: Ruben Flores, San Diego Innovation Council

Topic 3: Shrinking Distances We’re a big area! Are there advantages to that? What can we do about the challenges? Discussion leader: Jen Landress, Biocom 

Lock in the Learning Share group findings to the full meeting and make them stronger.  Captured by graphic recorder Alece 

3:15 PM BREAK 

Discussion Round Three: Thorny Challenges 

Topic 1: Talent Trouble We are hungry for seasoned business talent interested in startups, both on the startup side and on the enterprise side. What’s causing this hunger? How might we address it? Discussion leader: Alex Maleki, Idealab 

Topic 2: Money Trouble Certain stages of investment seem to call forth lots of dollars in SoCal, others seem to be blocked. Certain types of funders seem to be abundant in SoCal, others seem to be absent. What’s going on? How can we fix it? Discussion leader: Carmen Palafox, MiLA Capital

Topic 3: Brand Trouble Limitation of SoCal brand – so heavily weighted to consumer internet and entertainment and doesn’t capture the full richness of the region? How do we construct an alternative narrative? Discussion leader: Susan Windham-Bannister, BioLA 

Lock in the Learning Share group findings to the full meeting and make them stronger Captured by graphic recorder Alece 

Wrap Up and Sign Up Sign up for a task. Share your biggest takeaway. Closing comments: Andy Wilson, Alliance for SoCal Innovation 

5:15 PM Reception 

Wait out the traffic! Eat & drink with your (new) colleagues before heading home. 

Workshop Facilitation

The Alliance has engaged Diana Joseph, the Founder of the Corporate Accelerator Forum ( as well as a learning scientist and corporate innovation leader, to facilitate the workshop. Her consulting company focuses on developing personal agency and initiative using cognitive science research and innovation techniques. She has expertise guiding organizations on initiating innovation programs and helping ecosystem builders figure out how to build their community such as the LA Innovation Forum focused on filling gaps in the Los Angeles biotech ecosystem.

Action Plans and Final Report

The goal of the workshop is to connect top regional leadership and develop a regional action plan, or multiple plans, to address topic-specific challenges and opportunities. Plans will include coordinated messaging as well as concrete steps to promote a unified approach to regional issues.

The Alliance will document the plan(s) in a final report that will summarize the workshop and articulate the Alliance’s overarching objective to unite Southern California’s fragmented innovation hubs. The report will include a visualization/illustration of the workshop notes. Depending on timing, we will include an implementation status update and/or any lessons learned so far.


Dennis Abremski UC San Diego
Dave Adornetto UCSB Technology Management Program
Jim Andelman Bonfire Ventures
Peter Asmuth Kaiser Permanente
Alex Bates NeoCortex Ventures
Ken Beall ULP (University Lab Partners)
Erin Beck Wana
Anderee Berengian Cie / RezVen
Bud Bishop Pasadena Bio Collaborative Incubator
Matt Bresnahan WSGR
Scott Brovsky UC Riverside
Janelle Brunette OCTANe
Jack Davidson GSMA MWC / 4YFN
Andre Doumitt Aerospace Corporation
Michelle Drucker OC4 Venture Studio
Jennifer Dyer USC Stevens Center for Innovation
Fred Farina Caltech
Daniel Feldman Verizon
Ruben Flores San Diego Innovation Council
Scott Fox OC Startup Council
Rob Freelen Silicon Valley Bank
Niles Friedman County of Los Angeles
Tad Funahashi Kaiser Permanente
Isabel Guzman Governor Gavin Newsom, Office of Business and Economic Development
Jennifer Hiramoto City of Glendale
Keith Hoffman LA Biomed
Greg Horowitt T2 Ventures
Derek Hoyt Silicon Valley Bank
Carolyn Hull LAEDC
John Keisler City of Long Beach
Terang Kim Edison International
Mike Krenn Connect w/SDVG
Jen Landress BioCom
Len Lanzi LAVA
Gary Livingston 805 Startups
Alex Maleki Idealab
Tommy Martindal San Diego State
Bob Musselman LACI
Carmen Palafox Make it in LA (MiLA)
Mark Percy CEO Leadership Alliance – OC
Miki Reynolds Grid 110
Paul Roben UC San Diego
Aria Safar LA Mayor’s Office
Calvin Selth Annenberg Foundation
Rishabh Singh BCG DV
Richard Sudek The Cove @UCI
Jamie Sullivan Soylent
Hovig Tchalian Drucker School of Management, Claremont Graduate University
Todd Terrazas AI LA
Tim Tiemann Cal State North Ridge
Jess Tirado Wells Fargo – Corporate Philanthropy and Community Relations
Paul Vasington Verizon
Gillian Wilson UC Riverside
Susan Windham-Bannister BioLA / Biomedical Growth Strategies
Jeff Wolf FinScale

Thank you to our Sponsors

About the Alliance for SoCal Innovation

The Alliance for Southern California Innovation (the “Alliance”) is a not for profit formed in 2017 that has successfully brought together the heft of Southern California’s top research institutions, local business leaders, and world-class advisors to focus on bridging critical gaps in the SoCal innovation ecosystem. The goal of the Alliance is to engage and unify SoCal’s compelling diversity of talent, ideas and perspectives in order to optimize the conditions for the region’s innovators to bring breakthroughs to the world.

The Alliance will focus on developing and connecting SoCal’s diverse nodes of innovation excellence while attracting new capital to Southern California by identifying, nurturing and matching high potential startups to leading venture investors. By working together with node leadership, the Alliance will begin to tackle more regional issues including retaining top STEM talent and growing the base of local institutional capital. Our efforts have the potential to generate 200k direct jobs and more than 1MM indirect jobs in Southern California.