Growing a Tech and Innovation Ecosystem: San Leandro 2017
Since the turn of the 21st century, the City of San Leandro through its General Plan and Downtown Transit Oriented Development Strategy and more recently the Next Generation Workplace Study, continues to value the rich resources and benefits provided by the City’s industrial businesses. These plans also identify a need to enable technology-based job and business growth as a means of diversifying and growing the City’s economic base.
In 2011, the City executed a License Agreement with San Leandro Dark Fiber (“SLDF”) to construct city-wide fiber optic infrastructure that would enable San Leandro businesses access to the internet at speeds up to 2000 times faster than available to them at that time, known as Lit San Leandro. For the most recent public information on the status of the SLDF/Lit San Leandro project and related investment activity, click here.
Related to this investment in the fiber optic loop, the City of San Leandro created the position of Chief Innovation Officer, tasked with creating opportunities to market the benefits of the Lit San Leandro fiber optic infrastructure to investors and businesses. Not just any businesses, but to entrepreneurs, investors and business owners looking to connect to a unique, fiber optic supported innovation ecosystem embedded into a connected community. Development of public/private partnerships is a key strategy in creating unique resources to achieve City Council goals. As a member of the Community Development Department, the Chief Innovation Officer provides support to the overall mission of the Department and its priorities established under the guidance of City Council and its Goals, especially:
- Place San Leandro on a firm foundation for long-term fiscal sustainability
- Advance projects and programs promoting sustainable economic development, including transforming San Leandro into a center for innovation
- Maintain and enhance San Leandro’s infrastructure [fiber optics and what we do with it]
- Maintain and support a strong positive relationship between the City, schools and the educational community
2017 will increasingly engage the City Council and the San Leandro community in a discussion about its rich fiber optic infrastructure. What does it mean to be a Smart City (part of City Vision in the recently updated General Plan)? How do we engage and support the existing technology entrepreneur and workforce base and engage more San Leandrans as our gigabit industry grows? What can we learn from technology businesses and cloud services that will lead to improved City services and/or reduced costs?
Startups in Residence 2017: In February San Leandro will formally announce its second-year sponsorship of a Startup in Residence program that will serve to connect City departments with innovative technology startups. These startups will collaborate with staff to develop technology-based solutions that address challenges facing City government. The program builds on a successful 2016 STIR program collaboration among the cities of San Leandro, San Francisco, Oakland, and West Sacramento that produced 14 exemplary technology product innovations designed to meet local government needs.
Smart City Roadmap/ Energy/ IoT: The City of San Leandro’s leadership role as a center of energy innovation and potential regional model for scaling renewable energy will take shape in 2017. It’s partnership with ZipPower, OSIsoft, and Lawrence Berkeley National Labs under the $1.5M EPIC grant is intended to produce a community-based game plan that empowers individuals and businesses to scale renewable energy, reduce energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions city-wide. East Bay Community Energy will launch in 2017, pooling the electricity demand of Alameda County/San Leandro homes and businesses to buy energy with a focus on developing local, renewable energy sources. New smart, LED lighting on city streets will become visible throughout San Leandro, while we will continue to look for ways to expand free public wi-fi!
Nationally, the ongoing expansion of Lit San Leandro and its positive economic impacts have resulted in invitations to join a national initiative, the Global City Teams Challenge (GCTC) SuperClusters, sponsored by NIST and US Ignite. San Leandro has been invited to join the Smart Cities SuperCluster and take a leadership role in the Energy SuperCluster.
Back at home, the City Council will be asked early in 2017 to approve a Request for Proposal for an experienced consultant to assist in crafting a Fiber Optic Master Plan. The goal will be to create a Smart City roadmap, informed by the City’s Council goals, community input, existing and proposed technology infrastructure goals, and developing best-practices globally.
Founders Circle: Launched in December 2015 to support to support the retention and expansion of San Leandro’s core manufacturing companies, development of the Founders Circle will expand with increased support and programming from the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce under its San Leandro by Design program. A number of public events focused on revealing needs and attracting resources needed to support advanced manufacturing in San Leandro are being planned. The City will continue to support various local efforts to develop strong work pathways from our schools into the City’s advanced manufacturing and technology businesses.
Women in Tech: Announced at the Truth Is Beauty lighting ceremony in October and completed in December, findings of a research project completed by 3 U.C. Berkeley grad students reveal a significant desire by San Leandro women entrepreneurs to create a business incubator designed by and for women. A successful female-focused incubator could have significant economic impacts on San Leandro’s growth economy; in its seminal 2015 study on how reasonable efforts to advance women’s equality could add $12 trillion to global GDP, the McKinsey Group and its data made the case that significant local and global economic benefits can be gained by building a supportive environment for a larger diversity of entrepreneurs, including women and youth. Look for a future innovation blog publishing this report, its findings and conclusions, and an invitation to learn more and get involved.
Conferences: Tasked by the San Leandro City Council to develop San Leandro as a Center for Innovation, the City’s partnership with the Zero Net Energy Center (ZNEC) has provided a place for showcasing regionally and internationally the City’s collaborative and innovative leaps forward through events and conferences. Launched at ZNEC in 2015, the third annual HardwareCon, presented by Hardware Massive, is a two-day, internationally attended conference March 24th & 25th at ZNEC designed and developed exclusively for hardware startup entrepreneurs. This conference and convention is structured to help founders catapult their business to the next level of success, an innovation wholeheartedly supported by the City of San Leandro. We Make Things and see a bright future for a City committed to supporting entrepreneurs who want to build businesses based upon making things!