Alliance Blog

You know you are a true Ally in Innovation when we laugh together!

I think now that we have held our second annual Allies in Innovation celebration, it is officially a tradition! I say that enthusiastically because the 2nd Allies event we held December 1st was just as much fun as the inaugural one in 2021 . . . some might say even more so.  

We believe our commitment to being the region’s strategic super connector is bearing fruit.  Having secured more than 120 institutional partners representing diverse stakeholders from the SoCal innovation community, we believe we are well beyond critical mass. In 2022, we were laser focused on bringing these stakeholders together by hosting 50+ leadership convenings. While most of our gatherings target specific stakeholder populations (VCs, corporates, academia, etc), we particularly enjoy our “omni” events that pull them all together. Our Allies in Innovation celebration is our most significant omni event bringing together 60+ of our most enthusiastic and committed supporters.  

Andy Wilson (Alliance) greets Hala Madanat (SDSU) with Mark Percy (CLA-OC) and Ajay Nirula (Eli Lilly)

This year’s gathering was held at the extraordinary headquarters of Edwards Lifesciences which commenced with a fascinating campus tour showcasing their amazing history and commitment to medical device innovation. The highlight was a visit to their state-of-the-art manufacturing center where they make artificial heart valves. After the tour, our guests enjoyed a jubilant cocktail reception followed by a seated dinner.  

At dinner, to ensure “super connections” were being made, the guests were instructed to do rapid fire introductions that included their “nerdiest” activity or quirk. Each table nominated their top nerd and though it was tough competition, the group consensus was that Farzad Azimpour (our host and SVP of Strategic Innovation at Edwards, pictured below) was the clear winner of the evening due to his “hobby” of reading EKG print-outs for fun. He more than redeemed himself moments later during his welcome remarks that encapsulated how Edwards embraces innovation to drive opportunities for the future. We’re still not entirely sure why EKG’s are fun, however.

Farzad Azimpour (Edwards Lifesciences) addresses the guests at dinner

Before dinner was served, Alliance staff members recognized and celebrated the key working groups and collaborators who engage in our programs. The Alliance team is now up to eight staff members but there is no way we could deliver our programs and achieve critical impact without the enthusiastic engagement and support from our many amazing partners. 

Steve Gilison (Alliance) recognizes the contributions of some of our partners, supporters, working groups, and collaborators.

In addition to acknowledging Edwards generosity for providing the amazing venue, we recognized our wonderful event underwriters from Techstars, UBS, Amazon, and Sunstone Management.  There is nothing more satisfying than building a committed community of partners who share our important mission of supercharging SoCal’s innovation economy and also, not only benefit from, but viscerally enjoy the productive partnership.  We are so grateful for all of you – thank you!

Andy Wilson (Alliance) enjoying having so many great stakeholders and supporters in one room to celebrate an amazing year at the Alliance.

Want to see more photos from the Allies in Innovation event? Check out the album here.