I already have reported on the conversation with Alex Mehran, Jr. Business Times Publisher Mary Huss interviewed Mehran Jr. and then welcomed Stephanie Beasly from Sandia and Camille Bibeau from Lawrence Livermore to talk about the labs’ Open Campus. They see the Open Campus as a research hub like what Stanford does for the Silicon Valley, UCSF does for biosciences at Mission Bay in San Francisco and what Cal and Lawrence Berkeley do there.
Beasly put it simply, “We’re rollbacking the guards, guns and gates” so academic and private sector employees can interact with the talented staffs at both labs. Sandia, through its combustion research facility, has been working with the automobile industry for decades, while the lab was slower to partner with the private sector.
Bibeau observed that the labs have evolved from nuclear weapons facilities (the lab designing warheads, while Sandia did the engineering to deliver them) to national security labs with a much broader mission.
The campus already has an Advanced Computing Center and a 14,000-square-foot Advanced Manufacturing Lab is under construction. Both offer capabilities to help small companies as well as more established companies that need access to expensive, sophisticated machines.
It’s also a great place for students—they had 1,200 college and high school students working there this summer.
Some takeaways from the final panel, moderated by John Sensiba of Sensiba San Filippo and the former chairman of Innovation Tri-Valley.
• Steve Lanza of Lam Research, who succeeded Sensiba as chairman, observed that two years ago the 50-year-old company grew by 50 percent as demand for its $5 million chip-making machines exploded. They have a 50,000-square-foot addition that is running 24/7 in Livermore. As a manufacturing firm, they bus in employees daily from the San Joaquin Valley.
• Les Schmidt, who opened his artificial intelligence accelerator at Bishop Ranch a year ago, has graduated its first cohort of 11 and is preparing to welcome the second group. Interestingly, 80 percent of its first group came from outside the Tri-Valley.
• Dave Selinger, one of the founders of Tri-Valley Ventures and the CEO of Deep Sentinel, observed one of the surprises for him has been the broad number of sectors in the Tri-Valley Innovation economy. He also observed as there’s a longer lifecycle for companies between founding and going public that requires hiring more experienced staff that will be there longer term. He also commented that the Tri-Valley has engaged political leadership and that should not be taken for granted.
• When asked what a healthy Tri-Valley would look like in five years, Schmidt said: 300 more tech companies; 40 percent of residents commute out of the valley instead of 70 percent that currently do; Venture capital invested will have doubled each year for five years.
• Lauren Moone, executive vice-president of Mirador Capital, said the Tri-Valley will be the No. 1 destination for tech companies and people are saying, “Who knew?” We did. Tim Harkness, another Tri-Valley Ventures co-founder and CEO of Unchained Labs, chimed in that the next report will be titled, “We told you so.”