Alliance Blog

Celebrating Our Allies in Innovation: Supporting the SoCal Ecosystem Has Some Perks

My parents raised me not to brag, but today I am going to bend that rule a little. 

Earlier this month we held our inaugural Allies in Innovation celebration at the Cove at UC Irvine where we hosted 60 of our most ardent and enthusiastic supporters. It was truly spectacular and a special way for the Alliance to show its appreciation for those who have deeply leaned into our work to further elevate and energize the SoCal innovation ecosystem. Let me share why it was such a special evening.

First, after 18 months and dozens of virtual events and discussions, this was the first time many of us had connected “in real life” since Covid. In some cases, folks had never actually met in person. It was a powerful reminder of how compelling live interactions can be even when compared to high quality virtual events. 

The community of diverse stakeholder leaders who joined us for this celebration was truly amazing! We had strong representation from academia, corporates, VC’s, and community leaders – each bringing important perspectives and expertise to the table. As an aligned community, we can indeed make the SoCal region even more compelling as a center of innovation, technology and entrepreneurship.

With such great leaders in the same room, of course there was great conversation amongst the guests but we also had a terrific panel conversation moderated by our board chair, Gene Sykes, who ran a lively discussion about how Covid has transformed the SoCal innovation ecosystem and what challenges and opportunities are now before us. A big thank you to Gene and our amazing panelists:

  • Ryan Kuder runs Techstars Anywhere based in San Diego and is Board Chair of Startup San Diego
  • Maria Anguiano, Executive Vice President Learning Enterprise at Arizona State University and UC Regent as well as an Alliance board of directors member (who lives in San Diego)
  • Andrea White-Kjoss is Managing Director of the Long Beach Accelerator
  • Tad Funahashi, Chief Innovation & Transformation Officer at Kaiser Permanente, and a practicing Orthopedic Surgeon lives in Orange County where Kaiser has its innovation lab
  • Rosibel Ochoa, Associate Vice Chancellor Technology Partnerships at UC Riverside and member of the Alliance’s Board of Directors

Not surprisingly, this group of innovation leaders saw the pandemic not just as a challenge that we had to overcome but also as a catalyst for bold new approaches that enable us to deliver greater impact for more people in more ways. 

While the diverse leaders and the amazing conversations were the essence of the event, the cool venue, the delicious food, and the fine wine added to the overall festive mood and high level of enjoyment. I’d like to give special thanks to our sponsors who made this special event such a great success:

Lead Sponsor: Techstars 

Sponsor: UBS Wealth Management

Supporting underwriters: Edison International and KPMG

You may be asking, “How do I get to attend the Allies in Innovation celebration next year?” Sorry, no tickets are sold – you must earn your seat at the table by becoming actively engaged with our work. So join our VC Council, become a corporate supporter, volunteer as a community lead for our Venture Pipeline program, or reach out to us at [email protected] and let us know how we can work together to achieve our mission to support and strengthen SoCal’s innovation ecosystem.