TECH ECOSYSTEM INITIATIVE: OVERVIEW



Tech Ecosystem Overview
 
Throughout the country more and more regions are hoping to grow by playing host to a tech scene. At MBEP, we are engaged in a number of strategic efforts that support the growth of a tech industry around the Monterey Bay.

The journalist Brady Dale identified a short list of attributes that are critical components to the sustainability of any regional tech ecosystem. Until these elements are in place, a region is unlikely to see the creation of a vibrant tech scene. Here is what a region needs: successful companies, access to capital, educational institutions, co-working / accelerator / maker spaces, tech reporters, lots of engineers, really fast internet, and informal leaders. With a clear focus on these factors, MBEP’s Tech Ecosystem initiative is supporting the growth of a sustainable tech scene in the Monterey Bay region. Furthermore, MBEP is collaborating with local leaders to support the growth of the AgTech industry.

The Importance of AgTech

The Monterey Bay region is home to the Pajaro and Salinas valleys, which are widely recognized for their leadership in the growth of fresh vegetables, lettuce and berries. While technology has always played an important role in the development of agriculture, today a new set of global challenges are shaping the future of the industry. Technology is critical to the future of the AgTech industry. From issues such as increased labor costs and food waste, to climate change and food security, the convergence of agriculture and technology are at the center of finding solutions for our future. The Monterey Bay region is strategically located near Silicon Valley, and now has an opportunity to combine the strength of both regions. MBEP is focused on working with all of our members and partners to develop this important regional asset.


Current Areas of Focus (October 2016 – early 2017)
 
·       Activate Sunesys broadband and continue to be an activist for low prices/high speeds/coverage
·       Execute on existing programs, events and initiatives put in place over the last two years
·       Complete and disseminate “Dig Once” conduit specs
·       Continue to support the Digital NEST with their expansion to Salinas
·       Explore the creation of a mentorship network/program for entrepreneurs
·       Assist in building additional programming around the 2017 Forbes AgTech Summit (Summer 2017)
·       Explore the business model and potential providers of free WIFI in all downtown locations in the region.                            



Components of a Tech Ecosystem

 


Informal Leaders +
Successful Companies
+
Access To Capital
+       +

Really Fast Internet
    Educational Institutions
+       +

Lots of Engineers
+
Tech Reporters
+ Coworking/Accelerator/
Maker Spaces


 


This section of the website borrows directly from a column written by Brady Dale and published on the Next City website on September 10, 2014. Brady’s article has been edited to apply to the Monterey Bay region, with specific examples from our region added for context and commentary.


Successful Companies


People are more likely to take the risk to become tech entrepreneurs if they know people who have done it and done it well. It’s one thing to hear about Twitter in San Francisco, but it’s another thing to be in Santa Cruz, Monterey or Salinas and know people that work at companies like Plantronics, Looker and FullPower. 

Anthony Townsend, author of Smart Cities says, “I like to think of these as finishing schools/networking places. Look at all the people in Seattle that got their careers started and met at Microsoft.” The same can be said of every big tech company across the country. In Raleigh, serving as the home to Linux purveyor Red Hat hasn’t just meant jobs, it’s also meant lots of local businesses launching.  Locally, although not tech per se, we can see the same effect in the fresh lettuce/vegetable packing industry. 

Companies like Taylor Farms and Mann Packing inspire the formation of spin-offs. In plant genetics, Driscolls’ former chief scientist spun off many years ago to form Plant Sciences in Watsonville.  City politicians can’t control whether a hometown startup will go big, but a city can get the pieces in place to make it less likely that a company has to leave if it does.


Learn about our region's success stories


Access to Capital

Capital needs to be near enough that entrepreneurs can travel to take a meeting with a potential investor and get back home (or to the office) within a day.  Fortunately this is true in the Monterey Bay Region.  We have the largest aggregation of venture capital in the world within a one hour drive of the major cities in the region. 

John Provo, from the Office of Economic Development at Virginia Tech says, “You should also be thinking about systems of capital (angels, seed funds, early stage funds) that move companies towards venture ready status.” Provo cites several Blacksburg companies whose proximity to the D.C. Metro area has allowed them to raise some impressive rounds in the last few years.  Looker in Santa Cruz has raised two rounds now, its Series A $18M round and then recently its Series B $30M round—all from mainstream firms “over the hill.” 

Central Coast Angels was started in late 2013 to help address seed stage financing.  The Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology in Salinas is now open in the new Taylor Farms building downtown.  It’s critical that local start-ups do not succumb to the erroneous notion that capital must come from angels and VCs in their city alone.  It is more often than not an indication that the entrepreneur cannot compete on a regional, national, or worldwide basis and thus is not a good candidate for financing.  We are blessed with an abundance of available capital in Northern California, but that capital will seek the best ideas and entrepreneurs and our startups must be good enough to attract it. 


List of Micro Venture Capital Firms
From Samir Kaji's pevcbanker.com

Central Coast Angels
Providing capital and mentoring for innovative companies in the Monterey Bay region.

Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology
Our mission is to enhance the competitiveness and profitability of our members.

Kickstarter
The world's largest funding platform for creative projects.

Sand Hill Angels
Smart money for great startups.


AngelList
Raise money through Angel syndicates.

Angels by the Sea
New angel group formed with focus on technology, sports, health, agriculture, and speciality food.




 



Educational Institutions


In America, this is going to be a university more often than not, but Townsend points out that in other countries that isn’t always the case. It’s the military in Israel and the government in parts of Asia, he said. Regardless, some piece of the establishment that’s in the business of creating knowledge needs to also be looking beyond itself and into the world of practice.

Chuck Eesley, a Morgenthaler Faculty Fellow at Stanford University, explains how Frederick Terman, the engineering school dean in the ’50s, is credited for laying the foundation of what we now know as Silicon Valley. Among other things, he established a university research park and encouraged students and faculty to get involved with entrepreneurship. In New York City, NYU is working very hard to fill that role.  In the Monterey Bay Region, we are blessed to have two universities, UCSC and CSUMB, both of which can fill the role of knowledge creator and transferor to productive businesses.  In addition, there are other educational institutions like Naval Postgraduate School, Defense Language Institute, and Middlebury Institute of International Studies, as well as strong community colleges in each major metro area. 

 

Formal Courses and Degrees

University of California at Santa Cruz
UCSC Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development
Computer Engineering Courses
Computer Science Courses
UCSC Genomics


California State University at Monterey Bay 
Computer Science


Hartnell College
Advanced Technology Program
CSin3 B.S. Degree: Computer Science & Information Technology
Coder Dojo


Cabrillo College
Computer Science
Engineering Technology


Monterey Peninsula College 
Computer Science and Information Systems


Informal Courses and Training Programs

Santa Cruz Works
The top tech, creative, and science companies in Santa Cruz hiring talented local people.

Thrive Accelerator
Thrive Accelerator is a highly selective mentorship and investment program for technology-enabled startups in the Precision Agriculture space.

Digital NEST
Digital NEST provides youth and young adults ages 12-24 with free access to computers, software, Wi-Fi, and a full range of state-of-the-art digital tools and classes.

Central Coast SBDC and SBDC hosted by CSUMB
Offer a variety of free services and resources for present and potential small business owners in our region.

Monterey County Business Council Career Readiness Consortium
MCBC has identified and initiated a job skills program that profiles, tests and trains participants to provide employers, both public and private, with a qualified workforce.

 


Coworking/ Accelerators/ Maker Spaces


The creator of Delicious.com, Joshua Schachter, says that one aspect of building companies that inhibits entrepreneurs is leases. When all you have is an idea and six months of savings to live on, you can’t sign a 5-year lease. Co-working spaces, where individuals or firms get a piece of a larger office on short-term commitments, solve this immediate problem. They also provide ready advice just one desk over, freelance contacts, ready-to-use IT and professional meeting space. In the Monterey Bay Region, there are a number of co-working spaces, anchored by Cruzio and NextSpace in Santa Cruz, The Satellite and Slingshot in Scotts Valley, The Satellite in Felton, Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology and the MBEST Center in Marina. 

 

NextSpace Santa Cruz

A thriving community of independent professionals, entrepreneurs, freelancers and remote workers out to make a living and a life on our own terms. Address: 101 Cooper St. Santa Cruz, CA 95060
 

Cruzio

Join the coworking revolution! Workspace, meeting rooms and free 100 Mbps wifi, every day of the week. Address: 877 Cedar St. #150 Santa Cruz, CA 95060
 

SlingShot 
Support and resources for small businesses and startups

Thrive Accelerator
Thrive Accelerator is a highly selective mentorship and investment program for technology-enabled startups in the Precision Agriculture space.


Satellite Felton 
Coworking, private offices, virtual office plans, meeting and conference rooms -- available when you need it, 24/7.

Address Felton: 6265 Highway 9 Felton, CA 95018

Satellite Santa Cruz
Coworking, private offices, virtual office plans, meeting and conference rooms -- available when you need it, 24/7.
Adress Santa Cruz: 325 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz 9502


Satellite Scotts Valley 
Coworking, private offices, virtual office plans, meeting and conference rooms -- available when you need it, 24/7.

Address Scotts Valley: 5900 Butler Lane #250 Scotts Valley, CA 95066


Western Growers Center for Innovation and Technology
Our mission is to enhance the competitiveness and profitability of our members.

 

Old Town Salinas Coworking Space
Award-winning building design with professional office space.
Address: 369 Main Street, Suite M, Salinas, CA 93901

Grain Tower Salinas Coworking Space
Great networking opportunities in a creative environment.
Address: 60 West Market Street, Suite 300, Salinas, CA 93901


UC MBEST Center 

Address: 3239 Imjin Road #101 Marina, CA 93933

 

 


Tech Reporters

Journalists covering the scene draw talent and buzz, and their coverage helps entrepreneurs, developers and investors find each other. Santa Cruz Tech Beat started out in Santa Cruz and is now covering our entire region. The Santa Cruz Sentinel, Monterey Herald, Salinas Californian, San Jose MercuryMC Weekly and Good Times have reporters that are quite interested in tech and cover it regularly.

Encourage your local reporters to cover tech!


Lots of Engineers

It takes all kinds to run a tech company. Business people. Designers. Salespeople. Visionaries. That said, it takes lots and lots of engineers. As much off-the-shelf software as there is today, at a certain point a real innovator will need something bespoke, and that’s where developers come in. While they earn a good salary, engineers want to be truly interested in the work and they want to hang out with other people interested in their own, similar work. 

The battle for tech talent is fierce. One of the main missions of Santa Cruz Works is to redirect tech talent commuting over Highway 17 to Silicon Valley every day and make them aware of the opportunities at a growing number of local companies, thus decreasing traffic, keeping local talent at local companies, and increasing the local tax base.

There’s so much demand that a whole industry has grown up around teaching people to code with companies such as lynda.com, Code Academy, Udacity, Coursera, Khan Academy, Skillsoft, and many others.  Both the Steinbeck Innovation Foundation and Digital Nest are teaching kids to code.


Tech Jobs In Our Region

Santa Cruz and Monterey counties have large numbers of computer science and engineering professionals. More data here

For more information on tech jobs in our region, visit our Local resources Santa Cruz Works (use the LinkedIn widget to identify people you know within a company), Santa Cruz Tech Beat, and Santa Cruz Jobs.


 Really Fast Internet

Chattanooga has made broadband access a public utility.  Kansas City was the first to get Google Fiber, followed by Austin and Provo and soon Nashville, Atlanta, Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham.  AT&T, Verizon and Comcast are responding to Google’s challenge. The Kansas City Start-up Village was bolstered by super high-speed Internet there, and Ben Barreth established Homes for Hackers to give developers a place to work with Google Fiber in K.C.

The speed of internet access in the Monterey Bay Region provides a foundation for a strong tech ecosystem. UCSC has a 10 gigabit backbone, 1 gigabit available to most research enterprises, and 100 – 600 Mbits available to students and other administrators and faculty on campus.  In 2010, Sunesys established a fiber link connecting Level 3’s Sunnyvale hub with UCSC.  In 2014, Sunesys received a grant from the CPUC to build a new fiber truck connecting Santa Cruz and Soledad, which should be completed in the next two years. The City of Santa Cruz and Cruzio are working on a joint public/private partnership to provide gigabit service to businesses and residents in Santa Cruz.


Discover the availability and speed of your internet service from the Central Coast Broadband Consortium.

For Cities: Discover all the documents you need to implement a "dig once" policy in your city here.
Files include the following templates: city council agenda report, resolution, telecommunications improvement ordinance, and a master lease agreement for telecommunications equipment.