The Chinese saying “women hold up half the sky” supports gender equality. Often truncated to “half the sky,” the phrase has been used as a title for television episodes, news articles, and organizations advocating for women’s rights. As we celebrate the…
The Chinese saying “women hold up half the sky” supports gender equality. Often truncated to “half the sky,” the phrase has been used as a title for television episodes, news articles, and organizations advocating for women’s rights. As we celebrate the Chinese New Year of the Sheep, Ram, or Goat, I thought the phrase would also be an appropriate blog title to honor a few of the female CEOs who are leading some of the most innovative companies here in Fremont. These women and others like them are doing their part to keep Fremont’s economic engines firing.
Hannah Kain, Founder and CEO, ALOM — Founded in 1997, ALOM is a global leader in supply chain management. In February 2015, Ms. Kain was named a recipient of the esteemed YWCA Tribute to Women Award. This award recognizes the achievements of top-level Silicon Valley executives in a variety of industries.
Christine Liang, Founder and President, ASI Corp — Founded in 1987, ASI is a computer components distribution company with over 100 employees in Fremont. In 2013, the San Francisco Business Times listed Christine Liang No. 1 on its Top 5 Women-Owned Businesses in the Bay Area.
Noreen King, President and CEO, Evolve Manufacturing Technologies — Founded in 1999, Evolve Manufacturing Technologies is a contract manufacturer specializing in medical, life sciences, and industrial equipment market. In December 2014, Evolve opened their new headquarters in Fremont. Fremont is delighted to welcome Evolve to the City’s Innovation Ecosystem.
Emily Liggett, CEO, NovaTorque — Founded in 2005, NovaTorque is a cleantech company focused on creating innovative, cost-effective, and energy-efficient conical-shaped electric motors. A 2006 Energy Efficiency Finalist in the Cleantech Open, NovaTorque has been innovating and sharpening their technology in Fremont for the last ten years.
These are just a handful of the strong women leaders in Fremont. This month, Smart Asset listed Fremont the third-best paying city for women in tech, with a gender pay gap earning ratio of 87% and the only Bay Area city in the top 15 cities.
In the Chinese Zodiac, the Year of the Sheep honors loyalty, hard work, and steadfastness. It only seems fitting that we highlight the achievements of Fremont’s female CEOs to ring in the New Year.
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Earlier this month, at the U.S. Department of Energy’s arpa-e Energy Innovation Summit, more than 2,000 technologists, entrepreneurs, investors, industry experts, and government thought leaders gathered to discuss America’s most pressing energy issues. Th…
Earlier this month, at the U.S. Department of Energy’s arpa-e Energy Innovation Summit, more than 2,000 technologists, entrepreneurs, investors, industry experts, and government thought leaders gathered to discuss America’s most pressing energy issues. The end goal is to move promising new energy technologies out of the lab and into the market.
Speakers like Ratan Tata, Janet Napolitano, and Bill Gates provided their viewpoints on the future of energy and on what they are doing as leaders to promote innovation in this sector. Under a general umbrella of renewed optimism for clean energy, themes that floated to the surface included the market adoption of a maturing energy storage sector, increased innovation in clean-tech financing, and the growing phenomenon of democratizing energy.
This year, I was particularly struck by the prominence of several Fremont companies at the event. These companies span the smart grid value chain (EVs, LEDs, power generation, and energy storage) and illustrate the ongoing importance of arpa-e as a funding and collaboration resource related to scaling for future growth.
Cogenra Solar designs, manufactures, and delivers high-reliability solar systems at the lowest cost for large commercial and utility-scale applications. Working with the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Cogenra received an arpa-e grant to work on a full-scale concentrator system based on its T14 product, which incorporates field-tested active-cooling technology and low concentration optics for the lowest-cost PV system available today.
In partnership with the Pew Charitable Trust’s Clean Energy Initiative, FreeWire Technologies showcased its mobile electric vehicle (EV) charging and energy storage units at the summit. Each Mobi™ carries 48 kWh of second-life EV batteries, is capable of Level 2 or Level 3 Fast Charging, and is linked to a full-featured software platform. This mobility, along with a companion app, allows customers to avoid high infrastructure costs and underutilization that plague traditional fixed charging stations while also delivering a cost-effective solution to quickly scale up capacity. In addition, FreeWire is using second-life EV batteries, saving them from disposal and encouraging greater EV adoption with the additional charging capacity. FreeWire’s Mobis™ and software platform can also be used for pure energy storage applications, including commercial energy management, storage of renewables, backup power, and disaster recovery.
As Fremont’s largest LED company, Soraa Inc., has received two arpa-e awards and was displaying its winning projects at the summit’s technology showcase. Both projects address a new cost-effective, scalable technique for manufacturing gallium nitride (GaN) substrates for power electronics and LEDs. These substrates enable improved LED and power electronics applications that represent markets of more than $30 billion per year and could reduce electricity consumption by 30 percent.
The summit concluded with a fireside chat between Lyndon Rive, CEO of Solar City, and Nancy Pfund of DBL Investors. This was particularly interesting and timely for Fremont given the recent announcement that Solar City has leased a facility in Fremont to house its Silevo R&D operations. Rive explained that its acquisition of Fremont-based Silevo offered one of the only domestic opportunities to invest in second-generation panel technology, which will dramatically reduce cost of the entire balance of system.Read less x
I was intrigued by Mayor Harrison’s recent blog article that outlines important themes for innovation growth. For those of us who research and follow economic ecosystems, Mayor Harrison’s article was spot-on. For the lay person, the discussion is always c…
I was intrigued by Mayor Harrison’s recent blog article that outlines important themes for innovation growth. For those of us who research and follow economic ecosystems, Mayor Harrison’s article was spot-on. For the lay person, the discussion is always clearer with an example from real life. It is often difficult to see what the ramifications are 20 years down the line for economic concepts that apply today. One example of what the mayor is describing comes from the January 17th issue of The Economist: “Oxford v Cambridge, Trailing in its Wake.” This article illustrates the power of nurturing the local economic ecosystem.
As background, Oxford and Cambridge are two of the oldest and most renowned universities in modern western civilization. Both are 60 miles from London; both are elite prestigious research universities; both are surrounded by quaint communities; and both have similar political leanings. However, starting in the 1970s, Cambridge undertook some major changes that produced stark economic differences between these ancient rivals.
One of the major decisions was increasing the available housing stock to ensure long-term economic growth. In 2014 alone, Cambridge added over a thousand new homes, three times what was produced between 2009 and 2014. In comparison, only 60 homes were built in Oxford last year. Providing new housing stock makes it easier to recruit top-notch professors, Ph.D. candidates, and, ultimately, new high tech companies to the Cambridge area. The end result — a 19 percent increase in employment for Cambridge over Oxford; all the while preserving Cambridge’s “quaint quotient” which further attracts new companies. Clearly Cambridge understands supply economics better than Oxford. The results were so stark that in 2014, Oxford civic leaders visited Cambridge to better understand the miracle. The full story in The Economist describes many more of the ecosystem differences.
No one can predict the actual long-term impact of any particular action a community might undertake. However, the economic ecosystem principles that the mayor described have proven time and time again to be the better course of action, assuming that the community wishes to grow and create employment opportunities for the next generation. From what I’ve witnessed, Fremont is well on track to maintain its role in the world economy.
Source: Economist, Jan 2015.Read less x
We recently met with Michael Raab, CEO of Ardelyx Inc., a biotechnology company focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of therapies to treat cardio-renal, GI, and metabolic diseases. This interview with Mike is the latest installmen…
We recently met with Michael Raab, CEO of Ardelyx Inc., a biotechnology company focused on the discovery, development, and commercialization of therapies to treat cardio-renal, GI, and metabolic diseases.
This interview with Mike is the latest installment in our life sciences blog series.
Here’s his take on setting up shop in Fremont and his vision for the life sciences industry in Fremont, Silicon Valley, and beyond.
City of Fremont: What are some of the reasons why Ardelyx chose to settle in Fremont?
Michael Raab: We originally chose Fremont over other cities in the Bay Area because it was centrally located and (here’s the clincher) very affordable. As a new company, we found this extremely important, since we were able to allocate more funds toward growing and focusing on our business goals rather than on excessive overhead costs. We’ve called Fremont home for more than seven years now, and we couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.
Fremont: Thanks! We’ll take that as a compliment. So, what can you tell us about your life sciences counterparts throughout the rest of Silicon Valley?
MR: This is a very exciting time for life sciences companies here in Silicon Valley, and we’re thankful to be a part of it. In 2008, we saw many smaller companies in the industry hit hard by the financial crisis. Unfortunately, many companies were unable to stay afloat. With the support and confidence from our investors and our development partners, which include AstraZeneca and Sanofi, we have been fortunately shielded from the crisis. But, in the last five years or so, we’ve been very encouraged by the resurgence of venture capital firms investing in the space, allowing both new and existing companies to flourish and innovate in a wide variety of therapeutic areas.
Fremont: Got it. So, besides funding, what are some other challenges life sciences companies need to overcome?
MR: Drug discovery and development is an extremely expensive undertaking. By its nature, it takes years (sometimes decades) before a company knows whether or not its drug is going to work in the manner expected. Thus, the time horizon for many investors can be quite long. Gaining confidence and support is vital. Collaborations with like-minded partners can also help move development and clinical programs along.
Fremont: Flipping the coin, what is pivotal to the success of a life sciences company?
MR: Ensuring that a company has a strong source of capital is undoubtedly important. Our IPO, as well as an additional milestone payment following a successful trial of our lead product candidate, Tenapanor, puts Ardelyx in a well-funded place as we continue ahead with our development programs. Innovative ideas that can address unmet needs are vital as well, though not possible without a strong scientific and clinical team, which we have attracted. Being located in Silicon Valley has allowed Ardelyx to build a team of unique, talented individuals across all disciplines of the company.
Fremont: Any closing thoughts on what we can expect to see from the life sciences industry in 2015?
MR: The industry is evolving at a rapid pace, and over the last two years, the IPO market for life science companies has been very strong. In 2015, we should see much more clinical data in exciting areas such as immunotherapy for cancer, novel ways to treat cardio-renal disease, and hopefully more rapid approval of drugs by the Food and Drug Administration.
On a more personal level, we are very encouraged and enthusiastic about Ardelyx’s future prospects. We believe that we have the components to emerge from a development-stage biotechnology company into a commercial leader in our space. And, we are proud that we are able to do all of this in Fremont.
First-in-Class Therapeutics Creating Safer Drugs Targeted TherapiesRead less x
What happens when you combine 39 cities throughout Silicon Valley to engage in a thought-provoking analysis of our region’s strengths and weaknesses? Speaking on behalf of Fremont and the businesses sitting at our tables, you have conflicting feelings of …
What happens when you combine 39 cities throughout Silicon Valley to engage in a thought-provoking analysis of our region’s strengths and weaknesses? Speaking on behalf of Fremont and the businesses sitting at our tables, you have conflicting feelings of optimism, caution, and a resounding sense of focus on several key issues that will shape our future.
Fremont City Manager, and Joint Venture Public Sector Co-Chair Fred Diaz introduces Russell Hancock
This year’s State of the Valley Conference delivered the 2015 “Index” covering various indicators of our region’s health. Job growth is still a standout with a 3.5 percent increase in the nine-county region, higher than anywhere else in the country. Joint Venture Silicon Valley CEO Russ Hancock has good reason to dub Silicon Valley with the new nickname of “Innovation Valley” given our outsized share of patents, VC funding, and IPO’s compared to the rest of the nation. That performance is all the more stellar if you add San Francisco into the mix, and Hancock makes a compelling pitch for its inclusion. “Silicon Valley is not a place, but a phenomenon.”
Trouble spots continue to be the dwindling middle class, housing affordability, and “creaking infrastructure.” With public transportation being an important driver for job development, the audience was stunned by the statistic that of the 12 million square feet of commercial space built last year, only 3 million square feet were constructed near transit alternatives. This gives credence to strategies like the Fremont Innovation District which will increase employment options near BART.
Benjamin Barbour, author of “If Mayors Ruled the World,” believes that our local and national trouble spots will ultimately be tackled by cities — the most pragmatic of all government entities. Since cities produce 80 percent of the nation’s GDP, and also create 80 percent of the nation’s carbon emissions, they have both the need — and the wherewithal — to solve this and many other problems.
World Energy Innovation Forum Chairman Ira Ehrenpreis addressed the state of “Energy Innovation” and the role of Silicon Valley. Ehrenpreis counters “doubters” with overwhelming evidence of opportunity in the energy sector. Technological innovation has contributed to drastically lower costs for Solar PVs, and solar jobs now outnumber those in the coal industry. The field is attracting some of the best and brightest innovators — people like Bill Watkins of Fremont’s Imergy Power Systems, and Lyndon Rive of SolarCity, who recently bought Fremont-based solar manufacturer Silevo. And most exciting of all, the industry is generating significant jobs, with Fremont’s Tesla Motors at the top of the list.
Global Economist and Time Columnist Rana Foroohar had great insights on what she calls “stakeholder capitalism” — where community vision can inform corporate strategy. As an example, she talked about Starbuck’s partnership with Arizona State University to provide an employee education program — something that will not only boost graduation rates, but can also contribute to employee retention. Foroohar also talked about “local-nomics” in places like Columbus, Ohio, where a shared prosperity plan allows more local control of how taxes are spent, focusing on areas of highest priority including downtown renovation, transportation, education, and retraining programs.
Finally, a “fireside chat” with Stanford President John Hennessey revealed several strategies for helping Silicon Valley to stay on top of the Innovation Game. Hennessey sees Stanford playing a role in both teacher training (with a strong entrepreneurship angle), and in research to quantify what’s working best in education. He is a strong advocate for universal preschool — “we owe it to every single kid” and to higher compensation for teachers working in the most challenging school districts. And while applied research is garnering more attention these days, Hennessy says that Stanford will remain committed to liberal arts, noting that Innovation often comes from working on basic things.Read less x
In addition to our new cleantech blog series, we will be shining light on some of the Bay Area’s most knowledgeable experts in the life sciences industry. They will be sharing their personal stories, the challenges most life science companies overcome, an…
In addition to our new cleantech blog series, we will be shining light on some of the Bay Area’s most knowledgeable experts in the life sciences industry. They will be sharing their personal stories, the challenges most life science companies overcome, and their visions for the future.
To start things off, we sat down with Michael Howaldt, Senior Vice President Biopharma Operations and Fremont Site Head of Boehringer Ingelheim (BI), one of the top pharmaceutical manufacturers in the world that creates innovative products in pharmaceuticals, animal medicine and biotechnology.
Here’s Michael’s take on life sciences in Fremont and his vision for the industry.
Q: Why did BI first choose Fremont?
BI can be summed up in a single phrase: Value through Innovation. In 2011, we chose Fremont to be the home of our first biotechnology facility in the United States because it’s a city focused on innovative culture. The Bay Area is known as the 'birthplace of biotech,' and we felt that positioning ourselves here would foster greater innovation and surround ourselves with intellectual capital like no other.
Q: So, would you say that tax incentives were an important deciding factor when choosing Fremont?
Yes, most definitely. We met with City leaders to discuss the partnership and ensure that we take advantage of the resources Fremont has to offer — tax incentives, assistance with city permits, etc. — to help our business and position it for future growth. Other important aspects were the proximity to Silicon Valley with its innovative and entrepreneurial spirit and the location in the Bay area which is one of the world’s most renowned biotechnology hubs. Since coming to California, state policy makers have taken substantial steps to help protect the biotech industry and manufacturing at large. We see these changes as opportunities for us to grow as a company and for the State of California to foster a more competitive business environment. We can only hope that local and state policy makers continue to create a business friendly environment for BI to operate in.
Q: Because the cost of doing business in California is a challenge?
Exactly. Like any company, we have to look at the bottom line. And as an international company, we must be financially diligent to remain competitive. So while California is a wonderful place to live, it’s also extremely expensive with property, sales and income taxes all being higher than in other regions. It's imperative for businesses to look at the overall costs for both the facility and its employees- each little tax adds up.
Q: Speaking of challenges, what are some of the biggest challenges specific to life sciences companies?
Like many other math and science-based companies, we struggle with the challenge of finding a qualified workforce. We hire folks who have everything from a community college degree to a Ph.D., but it’s still hard to find individuals with skillsets tuned to work in an advanced manufacturing setting. Fortunately, Fremont has a thriving manufacturing workforce (another bonus) with 23 percent of Fremont’s working adults employed in this market.
Q: Would you say the future of life sciences looks promising for other Silicon Valley-based companies?
Yes, I think the future of life sciences definitely looks promising. The world of prescription medicine is changing, and we are moving toward a model of more personalized medicine than products that help the masses. I see the business of biologics growing in the Bay Area and elsewhere as companies create new life-changing products. As long as investors continue to invest in companies, innovation will continue to evolve.
Q: Any closing thoughts looking ahead to 2015?
I think the life sciences industry is ever-changing and will continue to innovate life-saving treatments. There have been breakthrough products that cure diseases that the industry believed couldn’t have been cured. I see the biologics industry growing by leaps and bounds and medicine becoming extremely targeted to help patients. It’s an exciting and rewarding time to be in this field.
Boehringer Ingelheim (BI) Fremont facility on 6701 Kaiser Drive in Fremont.Read less x
Having three “best” years in a row is no small feat, but the annual Cornish & Carey forecast event on January 21 provided an opportunity to reflect on the broad-based factors contributing to Silicon Valley’s success, and the corresponding hopefulness …
Having three “best” years in a row is no small feat, but the annual Cornish & Carey forecast event on January 21 provided an opportunity to reflect on the broad-based factors contributing to Silicon Valley’s success, and the corresponding hopefulness that these dynamics are more sustainable than in previous booms.
Starting with the real estate data that Cornish & Carey is known for, there is every reason to celebrate.
What makes this sustainable? The so-called “fifth wave” in employment revolves around “IoT,” or Internet of Things. This year’s Consumer Electronics Show was dominated by all things IoT — “wearables,” home monitoring devices of all kinds, and communications devices that track everything imaginable from health care to security systems.
This isn’t to say there aren’t lurking concerns that could put a kink in this progress. Immigration policy continues to lag behind our innovation economy that depends on foreign labor. But even some of the more troubling trends, such as security breaches, spell opportunity for Silicon Valley. Technology trends and drivers similarly play to our strengths — data mining, Internet gaming, advancements in health care, streaming media, cloud expansion, and digital entertainment.
How this translates into our built environment is best summarized by Phil Mahoney, senior vice president at Cornish & Carey: “What little land we have is becoming incredibly valuable.” All of the “big names” are expanding, and tenant demand overall is the “highest we’ve seen since 2008.”
Providing a “VC” angle on this report was Mark Stevens, managing partner for S-Cubed Capital, and formerly with Sequoia Capital. He described a “Tale of Three Worlds” — or three “techtonic drivers” encompassing Big Data, Mobile and the Cloud. Silicon Valley’s prominence in all three has drawn back the “tourists” — not the ones with binoculars, but the hedge funds, mutual funds and foreign investors who are all hoping to get in on the action. He calls out hiring, housing and traffic as the Achilles heel for our region, but also provided some data points that are truly astounding:
Stevens believes that our future depends on companies being able to optimize for change vs. efficiency. This means experimentation, the ability to fail fast or evolve, and ultimately “deleting” things that aren’t working. The “centralized command” structure is no longer relevant because “size kills; and simplicity saves.” This means companies will be smaller, with decisions being made from “first principles.” Experience will be viewed as both a blessing and a curse.
In conclusion, both Mahoney and Stevens alluded to a rate of change that is unprecedented. We will all have to keep up or die, and in doing so, embrace risk. This is good advice for cities. Mahoney notes that political environments matter, and staying relevant (and friendly) will be critical as companies seek partners that reflect their values of being nimble.
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When Fremont-based RK Group proposed establishing a General Purpose Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) in its 190,000 sq. ft. logistics/warehouse facility, we were behind them 100 percent. The benefits of the program are well-documented, and we think it’s an import…
When Fremont-based RK Group proposed establishing a General Purpose Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) in its 190,000 sq. ft. logistics/warehouse facility, we were behind them 100 percent. The benefits of the program are well-documented, and we think it’s an important tool that businesses can use to increase global competitiveness.
What is a “Foreign Trade Zone,” you ask?
Simply put, an FTZ provides users — including importers, exporters, manufacturers, and distributors —with cost-saving benefits and logistical efficiency. Companies can delay, reduce, or even eliminate duty payments on imported merchandise.
Effective December 1, 2014, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has activated RK Group’s Foreign Trade Zone, and as a General Purpose FTZ, it is available for multiple activities and users.
Prior to the RK Group’s designation, companies had to travel to San Jose or Oakland to utilize a General Purpose FTZ. This is a big win for Fremont businesses, many of whom are already involved with international trade.
In addition, recent modifications to the FTZ program have simplified the formerly rigorous application process, making it much easier for individual companies to set up their own facilities as FTZs if the scale of operations warrants it. Let’s connect if you are interested in pursuing this for your business.
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We’re ringing in the New Year with a big win! Fremont recently claimed the 5th place spot on WalletHub’s list of top 10 cities for job seekers in 2015 (a significant improvement from last year when NerdWallet named Fremont the 10th best city for job seeke…
We’re ringing in the New Year with a big win! Fremont recently claimed the 5th place spot on WalletHub’s list of top 10 cities for job seekers in 2015 (a significant improvement from last year when NerdWallet named Fremont the 10th best city for job seekers in California).
WalletHub analyzed 150 of the most populated cities in the country across 16 key metrics, ranging from job opportunities to employment growth, and Fremont was a clear standout.
Along with being the fifth best city to find a job, Fremont also finished strong in the following job-hunt related categories:
For more information, please refer to the full WalletHub article here.
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Living Spaces. Ronbow. Home Elegance. These are just a few examples of Fremont’s burgeoning home design sector. As a new year often brings new ideas for home improvement projects, we’d like to spotlight several up-and-coming companies that are taking adva…
Living Spaces. Ronbow. Home Elegance. These are just a few examples of Fremont’s burgeoning home design sector. As a new year often brings new ideas for home improvement projects, we’d like to spotlight several up-and-coming companies that are taking advantage of Fremont’s growing residential density, strong logistics, and supply chain network. While there are many businesses that fall into this category, we’ve focused on six that have recently opened, or expanded in Fremont.
Living Spaces: A Southern California staple, Living Spaces is making its entry into the Bay Area market with a South Fremont store and warehouse. Boasting a large and stylish home furnishings inventory at affordable prices, Living Spaces offers same day delivery and “Shoppertainment” – theater-sized big screens viewed from a sea of recliners with some complimentary Starbucks coffee! The company also touts its robust green initiatives — both in materials recycling and building efficiency.
Ronbow: Redesigning your bathroom? Ronbow may likely produce your next sink or vanity. With sleek, modern designs, Fremont-based Ronbow designs and manufactures its own products, giving them the capability to offer “impeccable quality and relevant design.” Furniture is manufactured with quality hardwoods from sustainable forests.
Antique Revival: This furniture wholesaler brings a refreshing twist to home decor with both new and vintage pieces. Combining a unique worldly element with modern living, its ever-growing line of products range from simple planters to elegant cabinets. With a rustic aesthetic, many pieces are inspired by Asian and French design. You can check out their products on Amazon, Overstock and Wayfair.
Home Elegance: A furniture wholesaler with a more formal aesthetic, Home Elegance has been steadily expanding its presence in Fremont since its inception in 1984. While customers cannot purchase directly, dealers and local retailers, both domestic and international, carry quality pieces at a value-oriented price.
Bella Casa: The new 6,500 square foot showroom on Albrae Street offers top European design and craftsmanship at affordable prices. Living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms and accessory pieces are on display, and new home furnishings from top U.S. and worldwide manufacturers are brought in weekly.
Pivot Interiors: For those of you who live at your office, Pivot qualifies as home décor! Founded in Silicon Valley, Pivot is the largest Herman Miller dealer in the U.S. It has provided solutions for hundreds of companies seeking effective workplace environments. Its new Fremont facility will serve the entire Bay Area.
So as you contemplate the next iteration of your living space, whether that be at home or at the office, we hope you have the opportunity to cross paths with Fremont’s special niche in the furnishings industry.
Bathrooms never looked better with Fremont-based Ronbow furniture and fixtures.Read less x
Welcome to our blog – Takes from Silicon Valley East! Our view is slightly different here on the east side of the bay – from the Mission Peak backdrop to the advanced manufacturing companies that dot our boulevards. As we become more urban and strive to interpret the business issues affecting our innovation economy, we want to share with you our observations, insights, photos, arguments, agreements, inspirations and CEO interviews – and here on our blog is exactly where we plan to do this.