ADVANCING BUSINESS
IN SILICON VALLEY

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A CITY ON THE MOVE

COMPANIES WHO SAY ‘YES’ TO FREMONT

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New Startup Grind Chapter in Fremont

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East Bay entrepreneurs: The newest Startup Grind chapter in the Bay Area will host its first event in the fall in Fremont.  Sign up here.

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Redefining What it Means to be a Silicon Valley City

business-journal.pngA supplement printed on July 31, 2015 in the Silicon Valley Business Journal. The supplement provided an overview of Fremont’s the business ecosystem.

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“With the BART expansion well underway, we’re excited to breathe new life into Silicon Valley with a projected 30,000 new jobs in Fremont by 2040.”

—Kelly Kline, Fremont Economic Development Director

Transitional Business Platforms Fuel Startup Growth



Kim Marshall
Economic Development Specialist

Last month, the Harvard Business Review published an article by Robert C. Wolcott titled “Does Your Business Look to the Future or Just Defend the Present?” We found the piece to be thought-provoking and wanted to share how the phenomenon of “staying …

Last month, the Harvard Business Review published an article by Robert C. Wolcott titled “Does Your Business Look to the Future or Just Defend the Present?” 

We found the piece to be thought-provoking and wanted to share how the phenomenon of “staying ahead of the curve” is happening in our local economy related to hardware startups.

In sum, the article suggests that businesses need transitional business strategies in order to respond, identify, and manage profitability in increasingly volatile economic markets. In many industries, businesses are succeeding by keeping up with ever-changing technology and by staying slightly ahead of the curve. In order to do this, transitional business platforms have developed as an intermediate strategy to help businesses focus on customers’ ever-changing wants and needs. These strategies are keeping businesses profitable by being responsive and dynamic. By using transitional business platforms, businesses can lead the market instead of following market trends. 

The City of Fremont has witnessed innovative companies using transitional business platforms to build a customer base while scaling the original concept. Here are two great examples of technology “pivots”:

Enovix, founded in 2007, is in the pilot production of its 3D Silicon Lithium-ion Rechargeable Battery to power mobile products more effectively. Enovix is using a photolithographic and wafer process, similar to that used for producing solar cells. The Enovix platform fully utilizes advancements in reliable, high-volume, low-cost wafer production to transform battery performance just as ICs have for computing, LEDs for lighting and flat-panel LCDs for video displays.

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Oorja Fuel Cells uses methanol as a primary energy source because it is sustainable and ubiquitously found. For their original market, the forklift industry, the product serves as a ‘range extender’ for heavily used equipment in material handling. But over time, Oorja has adapted the technology to the telecommunications industry. Working with companies in developing countries, Oorja now manufactures their economical methanol fuel cells in Fremont and exports their product overseas. As the technology matures, Oorja can use its experience to grow the domestic demand for their products.

These innovative companies are using transitional business models to stay competitive in the ever-changing business climate by understanding what’s next in their industry and what customers want now and in the future. They are staying a step ahead of the curve.

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Category: Fremont General

Innovation Nodes Fuel Economic Rebirth of Philadelphia



Kelly Kline
Economic Development Director & Chief Innovation Officer

Brotherly love. Cheesesteaks. The 76ers. Philadelphia is the 5th largest city in the U.S. and has no shortage of unique and enduring assets. What has been more fleeting for the birthplace of our independence, is a strong footing for its local economy. Th…

Brotherly love. Cheesesteaks. The 76ers. Philadelphia is the 5th largest city in the U.S. and has no shortage of unique and enduring assets.  What has been more fleeting for the birthplace of our independence, is a strong footing for its local economy. That’s changing, however, as Philadelphia ups its innovation game. Our Innovation District series continues with an in-depth look at "Philly" -- and how it's working on multiple fronts to harness the new economy.

The Urban Land Institute descended upon Philadelphia last week for its Spring Conference, providing the chance for urban planners, developers and real estate professionals to use it as a living laboratory. What we witnessed was a vibrant city, not just in its city center, but also its historic Navy Yard, and the west side of town where "Eds and Meds" have combined forces.

Perhaps the most dramatic change is at the thousand-acre Navy Yard, where master developer Liberty Property Trust has been transforming the historic port. While only three miles from downtown, the property’s imposing gates have long separated it from the rest of Philadelphia. But the workplace history is deeply rooted in the city's identity, beginning in 1912 with a Steel Foundry, and its ultimate role in WWII, employing 50,000 people and constructing 60 ships. The naval base closed in 1996 along with many others across the country, and now serves as a leading example of a successful re-use.

Liberty's carefully planned business center has focused on highly appointed, LEED rated tech oriented buildings, beautiful "adult play and leisure spaces" and a hotel. The current 12,000 jobs have surpassed those at the time of the base closure, and 30,000 are planned overall. Rents already exceed the City Center, and marquee tenants like GlaxoSmithKline have established a presence. Liberty has also maintained an industrial base, helping the legendary "Tastykake" bakery establish a new LEED certified facility.

Part of the allure of the Navy Yard is that it still includes shipbuilding, with the Norwegian Aker corporation utilizing the port (and employing 1,300 workers). The ships serve as a beautiful backdrop to a more artsy corporate presence -- the campus for Urban Outfitters. Their private investment of $300M includes the painstaking rehabilitation of a dozen historic shipyard buildings into a millennial worker's dream setting, complete with dogs, restaurants, and plenty of natural light. The Navy Yard also boasts new energy demonstration and training areas thanks to recent federal funding. The Navy Yard can be considered half done, but future plans to introduce multi-family residential may be the most transformational to date.

Meanwhile, Downtown Philly has seen a building Renaissance, thanks in no small part to the central relocation of the convention center which has exponentially increased hotel development. Housing has followed as the urbanized dynamics of the millennial generation have taken root. And like the Navy Yard, historic assets play an important role -- chief among them, the 125-year-old Reading Terminal Market which hosts 80 local merchants. The market is the most visited place in Philadelphia, as proven by the long line to snag an Amish doughnut!  Much of the Downtown development activity has consolidated on historic Market Street, including the almost 1 million square foot Gallery retail renovation project by the Macerich company.

And it's Market Street which makes the connection to Philadelphia's third node -- the so called "University City District", home to University of Pennsylvania, Drexel, and the new Science Center collaborative with over 30 partners in a 15 building/15 acre area. The concentration of university medical uses with a corresponding wellspring of talent, have made it a natural place to incubate research concepts and foster entrepreneurship. And while large corporate anchors have been elusive, the "Eds and Meds" strategy has generated significant development activity and buzz, including private office and residential projects, as well as institutional contributions such as the "Pennovation Works" Center -- an innovation space focused on engineering, robotics, and the Internet of Things. Inclusive growth is also a priority with plans for public K-12 STEM facilities underway.

The big takeaway for Fremont is that big cities need multiple centers of energy to serve different audiences. Approximately 85 percent of Philadelphia's business activity takes place in these three nodes. While Fremont is smaller scale, Warm Springs, Downtown, and Ardenwood serve distinct employment needs.

Lest we collectively be daunted by the scope and importance of these strategic efforts, here's a parting thought from Drexel's SVP of Economic Development, Keith Orris, "Momentum means unlimited potential."

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Scott Forster, Ph.D.
Head of Essai Global Solutions, Sales, Marketing & Business Development

Continuing in our quest to highlight Fremont-based manufacturing and technology companies that support Silicon Valley’s innovation economy, we recently caught up with Essai, a global player that provides engineering solutions and rapid prototyping to the …

Continuing in our quest to highlight Fremont-based manufacturing and technology companies that support Silicon Valley’s innovation economy, we recently caught up with Essai, a global player that provides engineering solutions and rapid prototyping to the who’s who of advanced industries.

City of Fremont: Briefly describe Essai and the primary markets you serve.

Scott Forster: Essai is an innovation support company. We provide custom solutions for companies seeking to get products to market at accelerated performance, increased profitability, and faster timescales. We work across most electro and electro-mechanical markets including fast-moving consumer electronics, aerospace, life sciences, automotive, manufacturing, and test automation, as well as defense.

Fremont: Essai has been ranked by Inc. 5000 as one of America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies, and yet, you don’t see the name Essai on products. Can you explain this?

SF: Believe it or not, Essai has been included in America’s Fastest Growing Private Companies for three years in a row! I guess it’s because we make the technology inside the technology, or the technology that makes the technology work. While you might never see the Essai brand, I can almost guarantee everyone reading this has held or used a technology that we have supported. When innovative companies hit a road block, we’re the resource they turn to for a solution. Whether it’s a new device with breakthrough performance or a design that contains a manufacturing challenge, we find a way to make it happen.

Fremont: Aside from your headquarter operations in Fremont, why is it important to have a manufacturing presence in Silicon Valley?

SF: We’re a Silicon Valley company with a global reach. I’m not sure there are many places in the area that operate 24/7 supporting design and manufacturing. We have materials testing, design, and engineering in close proximity to real manufacturing and assembly. This proximity, combined with some unique business processes, leads to uniquely reactive innovation capability.

Fremont: Can you talk about Essai’s strong commitment to sustainability and reducing its environmental impact?

SF: Essai is continuously seeking to reduce its impact on the world around us. We take pride in our green working initiative. It’s about continuously assessing our work and the work we undertake to ensure that the negative environmental impacts are reduced.

Fremont: What do you see as Essai’s biggest growth opportunities?

SF: In the last year, we’ve seen a huge diversification in Silicon Valley, with classical computing power migrating into automation, transportation and even medical sciences. With self-driving vehicles, drone/UAVs, and the connected world of “Internet of Things” starting to trickle out into the market through real-life applications, we’re always looking to support the next wave of innovation that’s waiting around the corner. We pride ourselves in maintaining client confidentiality, but it’s really a special feeling to be right at the cutting edge of technology development and implementation, making the world a smarter and more efficient place to be. Collecting, managing, and utilizing data is clearly a trend that will continue to grow, and wherever there’s a technical challenge, we’ll be there to help. 

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