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SoCal Ecosystem Leadership Forum 2020

December 10, 2020 @ 8:00 am 3:00 pm


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

Workshop Overview


This was the second annual regional planning workshop focused on uniting and catalyzing the leadership of Southern California’s diverse and compelling innovation nodes which define the SoCal innovation network. This year due to Covid-19, the workshop was fully virtual utilizing a video conferencing platforms.

Why did we do this?

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 convened 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.


8:00 AM Coffee Talk

Informal networking via self-selected zoom breakout rooms.
Test your mic, say hello to old friends or make new ones
8:30 AM Welcome + Kickoff

Val Wright: Workshop Facilitator
Gene Sykes: Chairman, Alliance for SoCal Innovation

State of the Region Report: Assessing our progress and current landscape
Andy Wilson, Executive Director of the Alliance for SoCal Innovation

Plan for the day, announcements, share your “asks and gives”
Val Wright: Workshop Facilitator
9:15 AM  Conversation 1: Building & nurturing innovation communities amidst massive disruption (and what’s ahead)

We’ve experienced unprecedented disruption that has created unique opportunities and challenges for every element of the innovation ecosystem. How do we capitalize on the opportunities to emerge stronger? How do we support vital stakeholders facing existential challenges?

Discussion led by Brad Feld who is a renowned thought leader, investor, and author of “Startup Communities” and “The Startup Community Way”.
9:55 AM  Further discussion within assigned breakout groups

Lock in the Learning
Share group findings to the full meeting and make them stronger
10:30 AM BREAK

Finish conversations from the breakouts, stretch your legs, hydrate.
10:45 AM Conversation 2: Beyond Diversity – Tapping Into Best Practices that Increase Opportunity for All

Diversity is arguably the SoCal region’s greatest superpower; it’s engrained in our culture. While we can claim a leadership role, more clearly needs to be done to fully unlock the potential of our ecosystem’s wealth of diverse voices and talent.

Discussion led by Annenberg Tech & PledgeLA representatives who will share insights of their programs, challenges, and community-based initiatives to address underrepresentation and inequality.

11:25 AM Breakout Room Leaders and Topics:

  • Jasson Crockett (City of LA) – How Local Government Can Play a Role (Leadership)
  • Calvin Selth (Annenberg Foundation) – Survey Says: PledgeLA’s Unique Approach to Data (Measurement)
  • Carmen Palafox (2045 Fund) – Increasing Access to Capital to Founders (Measurement)
  • Anna Barber (M13 / Techstars LA) – Busting the Pipeline Myth: How VCs Source Diverse Founders (Relationships)
  • Miki Reynolds (Grid110) – How to Help Diverse Founders Thrive (Relationships)
  • Rick Smith – Why Crosscut Joined PledgeLA / Hosts VC Interns (Leadership)
  • Amir Ganaba – (RENEW) RENEW’s Effort to Measure Racial Equity in the Private Sector (Leadership/Measurement)

Lock in the Learning
Share group findings to the full meeting and make them stronger
12:00 PM Lunch Break sponsored by Mach49

Enjoy your delivered lunch using the vouchers from GrubHub sent via email, compliments of Mach49

Lunch presentation by Linda Yates, CEO Mach 49, on “Managing disruption and leading the rebound”

After Presentation, partake in informal networking in self-selected breakout groups, meet Linda Yates in the Mach49 Breakout Room (or catch up on email and recharge)

1:00 PM Conversation 3: Integrating a regional brand platform with differentiated local and industry narratives

At last year’s leadership forum, the Alliance was encouraged to drive the articulation and activation of the “SoCal Innovation Brand”. We accepted the challenge, formed a consortium of regional stakeholders to collectively fund the project, and re-engaged the brand design agency Bulldog Drummond to create a foundational communications toolkit that will establish the vibrancy of the SoCal region and depicts why we are a compelling destination for investment, talent, and economic growth. We’re mid-way through the project and want to share initial insights and get your input.

Presentation and Discussion led by Megan Pilla, Chief Content Officer of Bulldog Drummond

Shape the narrative
Bring your perspective, share your experiences and infuse the project with your collective insights.

2:00 PM Wrap Up and Next Steps

We’ll take a moment to reflect on the learnings of the day and identify opportunities for action and further exploration. What have we learned? Who raised their hand to take action and who will support them?

2:15 PM  Virtual Reception

Debrief about the day, continue an earlier conversation, set up a plan with your new collaborators.

3:00 PM Program Concludes

Thank you for donating your time and energy to support our thriving ecosystem. We hope you gained valuable insights, ideas, and connections. A report that summarizes the day will be distributed in January 2021.
*all times after the 8:30 AM start time are subject to change slightly.