Alliance Blog

Working Together to Unleash the Next Great Global Innovation Hub

It’s an exciting time in California. Things are changing, and fast. According to Federal data released earlier this month, California is now the fifth largest economy in the world surpassing the United Kingdom. And growth opportunities around technology are reaching far beyond the Bay Area and Silicon Valley. SoCal mints more PHDs in tech fields than anywhere else in the US; Caltech produces the most patents and UCLA the most spin-outs. From entertainment and media, to science, the opportunity for innovation is significant, and it’s happening here in Southern California.

A year ago, when we formed The Alliance for Southern California Innovation (the “Alliance”), we saw the writing on the wall. The Southern California region, with its extensive wealth of engineering talent, world-class universities, diverse population and growing number of entrepreneurial “nodes of excellence”, was and now more than ever is well positioned to become the world’s next great hub for technology and life science startups. Our vision is to bring together top research institutions, local business leaders and world-class advisors to focus on nurturing and accelerating the growth of the Southern California innovation ecosystem, and as we prepare for our inaugural events to bring all the stakeholders together in Northern California and Los Angeles, we are well on our way.

Stars Aligning

In a study the Alliance recently released with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), “STARS ALIGNING: How Southern California could be the Next Great Tech Ecosystem”, BCG lays out a thoughtful analysis of the region and demonstrates how the Southern California Innovation economy is building great momentum.

BCG’s analysis shows that Santa Monica and West Hollywood have an “entrepreneurial density” on par with many Silicon Valley cities, including Palo Alto and Menlo Park. SpaceX, Snap (Snapchat), Blackline, Illumina and Cornerstone among the heavy hitters calling Southern California home. And tech giants such as Google, Yahoo! and Facebook have expanded their footprint in the area, increasing the density of tech employees and engineers in Southern California.

Jody Foldesy, BCG Partner in charge of the study, notes, “Our comprehensive analysis of a half dozen global contenders shows Southern California has the key ingredients in place to emerge as the next major global tech ecosystem.”

Immense Potential for Economic Impact

The stakes could not be higher for California and the nation. BCG’s economic modeling shows if SoCal were to reach just one third of Silicon Valley’s level of venture capital investing by 2025, the potential economic impact would be an additional 200,000 new, high-paying jobs, along with almost a million indirect service jobs resulting in more than one hundred billion dollars in increased economic value to the region. Greg Becker, CEO of Silicon Valley Bank, points to meaningful progress: “Over the past several years we have seen a substantial inflow of venture capital from all over the world. We’ve also observed a significant decrease in startups leaving Southern California”

Having many key ingredients is a good start, but SoCal must address critical challenges in order to secure its position as a global tech and life sciences hub. In particular, we are faced with a shortage of local venture capital (importing almost $8 for every $1 of local venture capital investment). In addition, the scale and diversity of the region has often led to fragmented localism instead of a unified message that more accurately represents the strength of the ecosystem. SoCal needs a collective and coordinated effort to organize and promote the rich assets of the region and fill other critical gaps — and the Alliance couldn’t be more excited to join forces with other ecosystem leaders to take on these challenges to unleash the region’s full economic and creative potential.

Laying the Foundation

As part of our vision for creating the next great hub for innovation, we are working together to strengthen the region and overcome the lack of a geographic “center of gravity” by unifying key leaders, institutions and emerging nodes into a singular compelling narrative that integrates the diverse elements of the SoCal innovation community.

As a first major step in implementing this plan, the Alliance is thrilled to introduce two back-to-back technology innovation showcase events to bring together the world-class innovators, thought leaders, and entrepreneurs, surfaced and selected by the Southern California’s most powerful business and institutional leaders, who are shaping the future of tech and life sciences and laying the foundation for SoCal to become the next great global tech hub.

On May 24th at the Computer History Museum at our SoCal Innovation Showcase, we’ll host top investors, business and institutional leaders for panel discussions with world-class keynote speakers, startup success stories, and early-stage research teams that will demonstrate the amazing breadth of SoCal’s vibrant innovation sectors, and help facilitate introductions to leverage the region’s rich potential.

Our SoCal First Look Showcase on June 20th at UCLA will feature 30 of the best new early-stage teams selected from the region’s top research universities and institutions, presenting the potential commercialization and applications of their latest research, and includes a keynote from one of the world’s most prolific innovators Bill Gross of Idealab and a moderated discussion with some of SoCal’s most active venture capitalists.

Both events will highlight some of the SoCal region’s best tech and life sciences innovators working to commercialize their latest discoveries and connect them with top investors and serial entrepreneurs from around the state and country. The events will facilitate timely discussion around the opportunity for Silicon Valley in Southern California, the role of tech adoption within Entertainment and Media, and a deeper look across life sciences.

So it is with great enthusiasm that the team here at Alliance welcomes you to these marquis events, and the public debut of the Alliance. We have great ambitions to accelerate innovation and entrepreneurship in Southern California, and are thrilled to have you as early collaborators in this important effort.

Steve Poizner
The Alliance for Southern California Innovation
Steve Poizner, Co-Founder, Chairman and CEO
Andy Wilson, Executive Director
Steve Gilison, Head of Programs and Operations
Qualcomm Inc. Former President Derek Aberle
Salk Institute Former President, Nobel Laureate Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn
Pimco Managing Director and CEO Emmanuel Roman
NuVasive, Inc Chairman and CEO Greg Lucier
The TCW Group, Inc Chairman Marc Stern
The Walt Disney Company Senior Vice President Innovation Michael Abrams
Creative Artists Agency Head of Business Development Michael Yanover
Latham and Watkins LLP Partner Scott Wolfe
Paramount Pictures former CEO Sherry Lansing
Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc Chief Digital Officer & Executive VP Strategy & Business Development Thomas Gewecke
CalTech Dr. Kaushik Bhattacharya and Vice Provost Howell N. Tyson, Sr.
Stanford Consortium For Regenerative Medicine CEO Edward W. Holmes, M.D.
University of California, Chief Innovation Officer, Executive Director, UCI Applied Innovation, Irvine Dr. Richard Sudek
UCLA Technology Dev. Corp .Associate Vice Chancellor, CEO & President Amir Naiburg
University of CaliforniaRiverside Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development, Professor, Computer Science & Engineering Dr. Michael Pazzani
University of California, San Diego Associate Vice Chancellor, Innovation & Technology Commercialization Dr. Paul Rogen
University of California, Santa Barbara Vice Chancellor of Research, Professor of Physics Dr. Joseph Incandela
University of Southern California VP of Research, Professor of Industrial and Systems Engineering Dr. Randolph Hall
University of San Diego President Dr. Jim Harris
Harvey Mudd College President Dr. Maria Klawe

Written by Steve Poizner, Founder of the Alliance for SoCal Innovation. You can find him on LinkedIn.