You may recall a recent post from Bruce Katz and Kelly Kline analyzing the Innovation District prototype, and how it relates to advanced manufacturing districts such as Fremont and Sheffield, England. The resounding conclusion was that “there is a strong…
You may recall a recent post from Bruce Katz and Kelly Kline analyzing the Innovation District prototype, and how it relates to advanced manufacturing districts such as Fremont and Sheffield, England. The resounding conclusion was that “there is a strong base for a globally significant innovation economy and a strong rationale for spatially organizing that economy in ways that recognize the common attributes of innovation districts—integration, proximity, density, connectivity, and quality place-making.” Katz and Kline have expanded on this analysis, further fueled by the “Internet of things” (IOT), in a piece originally posted on the Fortune Magazine website on July 21, 2015.
Fremont, California is reinventing what it means to live in a factory town, and the electric car giant has joined in what could be a new era of U.S. manufacturing.
Manufacturing may conjure up images of smokestacks and smelters, but two former industrial towns are seeking to change what it means—and what it looks like—to make things. By locating large companies near small entrepreneurs, research scientists, and young apprentices, Fremont, Calif. and the Sheffield urban area in the U.K. are embracing the innovation district—new industrial neighborhoods that harness the latest ideas in technology and place-making. The result is smarter products for the global market and the ability to keep and grow manufacturing close to home.
Innovation districts mix corporations, start-up ventures, and advanced research institutions in dense urban areas rich with housing, public transit, and amenities. Think Kendall Square in Cambridge, Mass., University City in Philadelphia, or the new urban vision for Research Triangle Park outside Raleigh-Durham, N.C. Innovation districts cater to high-value research as well as creative endeavors such as industrial design and architecture. Companies benefit from their close proximity to universities and the talented workers and research ideas these anchor institutions generate.
But can these dynamics exist when overlaid on former industrial centers? Two mid-sized cities Fremont and Sheffield are in different parts of the world but share long legacies in manufacturing. In Fremont, a former General Motors plant is now home to electric car manufacturer Tesla, a company that embodies the shift to advanced manufacturing processes and connections between hardware and software. The factory is steps away from a new Bay Area Rapid Transit station and hundreds of acres of land on which there are plans to develop a more urban, amenity-rich environment.In Sheffield’s neighboring town of Rotherham, a former coal mine now houses the Advanced Manufacturing Research Park, where the University of Sheffield collaborates with over 100 leading research and development (R&D) and production companies including Boeing , Rolls-Royce, BAE Systems, Hitachi, and Tata. Sheffield and Rotherham show how R&D benefits from concentrated districts that take advantage of open, networked innovation.
Fremont and Sheffield are two cities to watch as they transform their historic production hubs into integrated innovation districts. These cities are challenging the idea that industry should be isolated from other uses and are working to end the bifurcation between idea development and product delivery. In response to the demands of a corporate mix of companies like Seagate, Western Digital, and Lam Research, Fremont is adding a high-density residential neighborhood to its innovation district. Sheffield is bringing production and technological problem-solving closer together with early research efforts that will ultimately influence the factory floor. Because their urbanization is nascent, these cities are perfectly positioned to capitalize on this convergence. It is easier for industrial cities to embrace software companies than for white-collar cities to incorporate new industrial uses.
A lot is riding on the success of hardware-software hubs like Fremont and the Sheffield urban area because advanced manufacturing and services are vitally important to modern economies. A recent Brookings report shows that the sector produced 17% ($2.7 trillion) of U.S. GDP and indirectly supported 27 million jobs even though it directly employed just 9% (12.3 million) of U.S. workers. Advanced industry jobs are also high paying—an average salary of $90,000, nearly twice as much as the average in other industries)—and broadly accessible—the average worker has less than a bachelor’s degree.
The common thread for Fremont and Sheffield is the opportunity to leverage new growth opportunities fueled by the “Internet of things” (IOT)—the integration of hardware and software. The efficiencies that come from the mingling of industries is perhaps most pronounced in manufacturing, where closely aligned design and production processes are improving cost, quality, and overall competitiveness. In Fremont, Tesla’s electric vehicle supply chain orbits its factory, allowing changes to be made on a dime. And a related but much smaller company called Gridscape Solutions is demonstrating the value of microgrids for critical infrastructure through partnerships with local companies, including Delta Electronics.
Already, best practices are emerging from Sheffield and Fremont that can guide other cities with an advanced manufacturing focus. As with all innovation districts, there are several critical characteristics: local government support, education and research anchors, corporate investment, and skills development. Both cities note the need for high-profile champions, a solid development plan, and a commitment to foster a real mix of uses and a lively atmosphere.
Sheffield and Fremont are changing perceptions about what a factory town looks like and what it can be. Ironically, it may not mean fully shedding their outdated blue-collar, “Full Monty” image but rather, embracing the new maker movement. Advanced manufacturing, it turns out, is the vanguard of the innovative economy.Read less x
The most attended solar exhibition in the U.S., InterSolar North America, touch down last week in the Bay Area. With solar still being one of Fremont’s most prominent sectors, several local companies were showing off the latest advancements in this spac…
The most attended solar exhibition in the U.S., InterSolar North America, touch down last week in the Bay Area. With solar still being one of Fremont’s most prominent sectors, several local companies were showing off the latest advancements in this space. Less dominant was the presence of solar panel or module makers. Instead, there was an increased emphasis on high-value optimization technology in the balance of systems. For those wondering what this means, it’s everything from system inverters to tracking mechanics.
Here is just a sampling of the Fremont-based innovation that was on display.
NEXTracker offers a significant breakthrough in horizontal tracking, with lower costs, better performance, and more flexibility for solar power plants of all sizes.
The SolarEdge system consists of power optimizers, inverters, and a cloud-based monitoring platform that addresses a broad range of solar market segments, from residential solar installations to commercial and small utility-scale solar installations.
Delta Products provides best-in-class, high efficiency solar and wind energy systems and products, including PV inverters and converters for wind turbines. Its PV inverter delivers the world’s highest power efficiency of up to 98.7 percent.
What else is percolating in the solar industry? Other themes included advocating for the extension of the solar investment tax credit, promoting streamlined permitting, and protecting the concept of true net metering. All of these themes signal a rapidly maturing industry and reassurance that solar is here to stay.Read less x
The importance of the so-called “MakerEd” phenomenon, as it relates to nurturing the next generation workforce, is something we’re passionate about in Fremont. You may recall a recent blog post by Fremont parent, Grace Karr, which defines the movement and…
The importance of the so-called “MakerEd” phenomenon, as it relates to nurturing the next generation workforce, is something we’re passionate about in Fremont. You may recall a recent blog post by Fremont parent, Grace Karr, which defines the movement and why it’s important to our innovation ecosystem.
We’re happy to report that together the City and Fremont Unified School District have initiated a conversation about how to bring this idea to life in our K-12 classrooms. Last month, over 30 education and community stakeholders gathered at the “FlexLab” classroom at Hopkins Junior High to discuss the possibilities. Participants included parents, teachers, school district staff, principals, education experts, community-based organizations, and yes, even students!
The initial discussion focused on a few central questions:
There was no shortage of great ideas coming out of this exercise. Here’s a snapshot of a few of those ideas:
Perhaps the most interesting was a discussion about whether “MakerEd” best captures our thinking about this movement. Many different labels could work beyond “Maker”, including: “Inventor,” “Imagineer,” “Solutionary,” “Actioneer,” or “Techie.”
Regardless of the label, the commitment to working on this effort is strong. Perhaps you’d like to join us! And if you need more inspiration, check out this “Kid President” video that is charming, funny, and the embodiment of the end goal — curious kids, empowered to create solutions to real-life problems.
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We may be located in 170 cities and 70 countries and be 200K entrepreneurs strong, but the Startup Grind network continues to evaluate prospective cities as we grow. We look for globally focused startup communities that are engineered to educate, inspire …
We may be located in 170 cities and 70 countries and be 200K entrepreneurs strong, but the Startup Grind network continues to evaluate prospective cities as we grow. We look for globally focused startup communities that are engineered to educate, inspire and connect. For us, it’s about fueling innovation, economic growth and prosperity at a local level through a connected network, or startup ecosystem.
And the City of Fremont does all that and more.
We couldn’t be more thrilled for the Fremont chapter to get off the ground. Geographically, we see Fremont serving as a central location for all startups in the Silicon Valley — it is the literal hinge connecting San Jose and the Valley to the East Bay and beyond. The launch of this new chapter is a significant turning point for East Bay startups — it’s a chance for them to connect, network and be inspired.
We always knew that a Fremont chapter would need to match the strong leadership of the Silicon Valley and San Francisco’s chapters. That’s why we waited for several years for the right people, despite getting multiple director applications for Fremont. When Shilpi Sharma, founder of Kvantum Inc., approached us, she presented Fremont’s story so passionately that we knew that she was the one who could effectively lead the Fremont chapter. Shilpi, along with City of Fremont’s Economic Development team, have put together a strong foundation for the East Bay's first Startup Grind chapter — one that will undoubtedly be successful.
There’s a reason why Fremont is ranked as the No. 1 city for tech startups, and there’s a reason why Tesla chose Fremont as the place to set up shop. Even its City government embraces an entrepreneurial spirit — and that in itself is evident in my contact with Shilpi and the Economic Development team!
Startups aren’t just about IP, software, the latest app, the “Uber of X,” or the latest episode of HBO’s “Silicon Valley.” Believe it or not, a city can look, think and act like a startup as well. Fremont is no exception.
Just recently, Fremont officially wiped its hands of Solyndra’s mess when the last remaining former Solyndra facility was snatched up by none other than Tesla.
And that’s why Tesla continues to say “yes” to Fremont, and why startups are saying “yes” for the first time. Fremont has everything a startup could need.
To date, more than 30 clean and green tech firms have put down roots in Fremont, and the city is home to more than 20,000 manufacturing jobs from significant industry clusters. Fremont also has space — something hard to come by in Silicon Valley — with over 40 million square feet of office, R&D, and industrial space.
We’re excited to see the entrepreneurs and thought leaders Fremont has lined up over the next few months, and we hope you’re as eager as we are to get started. Welcome to Startup Grind, Fremont!
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With momentum in Fremont at an all-time high, Silicon Valley’s who’s who can soon see first-hand what’s going on and meet some of the key players. On August 5th, the Silicon Valley Business Journal is hosting ‘The Business of Fremont at ThermoFisher Scie…
With momentum in Fremont at an all-time high, Silicon Valley’s who’s who can soon see first-hand what’s going on and meet some of the key players. On August 5th, the Silicon Valley Business Journal is hosting ‘The Business of Fremont at ThermoFisher Scientific’s new facility in Warm Springs. Key stakeholders will be sharing Fremont’s story from their perspective and what’s driving their choice for investment.
As the 4th largest city in the Bay Area, Fremont has made a name for itself as a Bay Area advanced manufacturing hub. With the reshoring phenomenon taking hold and an ever expanding supply chain ecosystem, thanks to companies like Tesla, Seagate, and ThermoFisher Scientific, Fremont is well positioned to play a vital role in the next technology revolution: the Internet-of-Things.
Yet, unlike many other places in the region, Fremont still has room to grow, and is seizing opportunities adjacent to transit, as it counts down to the arrival of the newest BART station in Warm Springs. In both the City’s downtown and in South Fremont/Warm Springs, the City is embracing its General Plan’s goal of becoming a strategically urban city. Join us to hear from developers and companies who are investing in Fremont’s future.
Panel 1: Fremont’s Urban Initiatives in Downtown and Warm Springs
Hear how the City is bringing its vision of a vibrant, central gathering place to life by implementing its Downtown Community Plan, and completing a series of significant milestones-- most notably a Development Agreement with TMG Partners and Sares Regis.
At the same time, a tremendous convergence of forces is occurring in the City’s Warm Springs Innovation District. With the Warm Sprigns BART station set to come on line in December and a new Community Plan completed, additional manufacturing /employment opportunities abound, and the private sector is stepping up.
Panel 2: Fremont’s Advanced Industry Profile and What’s Driving its Expansion
With the closures of NUMMI and Solyndra firmly in the rear view mirror, few would have predicted the stunning wave of Advanced Industry expansions that have occurred in Fremont over the last three years. Hear about why Tesla, ThermoFisher, and Seagate each decided to expand their operations, what the impact is on the broader supply chain network and manufacturing growth throughout the region, and the City’s partnership role in nurturing an innovation ecosystem.
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Regular followers of Think Silicon Valley East may recall a blog post last year contributed by Overton Moore CEO Timur Tecimer. In it, he discussed plans for their large industrial development project and why he is so bullish on Fremont. This week, we c…
Regular followers of Think Silicon Valley East may recall a blog post last year contributed by Overton Moore CEO Timur Tecimer. In it, he discussed plans for their large industrial development project and why he is so bullish on Fremont. This week, we celebrated the completion of The Crossings @ 880 and the corresponding extension of Fremont Boulevard to Dixon Landing Road.
The Crossings is a 691,000 square foot Class A industrial development that was built on a speculative basis. All three buildings were pre-leased before construction completed, which speaks to the strong demand for high quality space amongst corporate users looking to establish a high-identity location. The prominent visibility along the I-880 works well for distribution users who want immediate freeway access to infill markets within the San Francisco Bay Area. The project is one of the largest speculative industrial projects built in the Bay Area in the last 15 years.
Equally encouraging is the tenant mix, which includes Apple, Pivot Interiors (an office furniture distributor), and the first Northern California store for Living Spaces, a well-known furniture retailer from Southern California. The fact that the Crossings has already attracted a global tech giant, a traditional warehouse operation, and a retailer just goes to show the flexible nature of the space.
A critical component of the development is a three-quarter mile extension of Fremont Blvd from its existing southerly terminus to Dixon Landing Road. The extension includes:
The estimate for construction of the street extension is approximately $12 million. The extension provides a long-awaited connection to the rest of Silicon Valley for the Bayside area of Fremont’s Innovation District. With significant employment concentration in this area, including emerging technology startups and large anchor companies like Lam Research and Delta Products, this connection more easily facilitates workforce commuting and enhances business-to-business connections with other parts of Silicon Valley.
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In 2013, we conducted an Innovation Scorecard with Fremont companies as a way to measure where the largest gaps were when it comes to achieving greater levels of innovation and success. In terms of expectation, the results were mixed. While “Navigating S…
In 2013, we conducted an Innovation Scorecard with Fremont companies as a way to measure where the largest gaps were when it comes to achieving greater levels of innovation and success. In terms of expectation, the results were mixed. While “Navigating State/Federal Programs” ranked way up there (no surprise), so did “Improved Access to Foreign Markets.” With Silicon Valley considered one of the most globally connected regions, it was an eye-opener to learn that our companies ranked this issue as such a challenge.
Ever since that exercise, we have spent much of our time in economic development’s new frontier, actually seeking out resources for companies to address the gaps they identified. Imagine that! It is in this context that we crossed paths with Germany Trade and Invest (GTAI), the economic development agency of the Federal Republic of Germany, which promotes German business and technology opportunities. And it just so happens that its Bay Area office focuses on promoting German market opportunities — specifically renewable energy sectors — to U.S. companies. Bingo! With such a large concentration of companies developing energy technologies, talk about a perfect match for Fremont.
As a result, we were delighted to partner with GTAI on yesterday’s seminar, “Opportunities in the German Energy Market.” Several Fremont companies joined us, including Imergy, Oorja, and Delta Products. These market opportunities are due in large part to Germany’s ambitious energy transition (Energiewende).
Renewable energy sources currently make up around 30 percent of all electricity consumed in Germany, and this share is expected to increase to at least 80 percent by 2050. Solar power and onshore/offshore wind power will be the main pillars of this renewable energy production. The integration of fluctuating renewable energies into the electricity grid demands innovative storage solutions and major investment in the transmission grid. Additionally, Germany is looking to drastically reduce overall energy consumption, making room for many opportunities for companies providing energy efficiency solutions. Take a look at the video below for a more thorough overview of the German strategy.
It’s partnerships like these that help us chip away at the gaps our companies face and continue on our quest for mutual success.Read less x
As the holiday weekend approaches, and our attention turns to barbecue grills, the Fourth of July Parade, and our families, it seems like a good time to reflect on one of the often overlooked items that makes Fremont a great place for business. Fremont bo…
As the holiday weekend approaches, and our attention turns to barbecue grills, the Fourth of July Parade, and our families, it seems like a good time to reflect on one of the often overlooked items that makes Fremont a great place for business. Fremont boasts an environment that works as much for families as it does for factories.
Recently, WalletHub named Fremont the 7th Best City for Families. Considering the average American moves an estimated 11.7 times during his or her lifetime, it’s important to find a city with promising opportunity for economic prosperity as well as overall happiness.
WalletHub conducted the study based on data from 150 of the most populated U.S. cities and ranked them according to 30 different key metrics which consider family dynamics such as the cost of housing, quality of local school systems, and opportunities for recreation and fun.
And fun is where I come in! Bet you didn’t know that the Fremont Skate Park draws over 40,000 visitors annually and has educated more than 500 children on skateboarding safety. Aqua Adventure Waterpark hosted more than 90,000 guests with a 20 percent increase in revenue last year. This helps to fund $100,000 in scholarships for local low-income families.
But wait, there’s more! Studies also show that Fremont is a top place to start a family and a career. WalletHub recently named Fremont the 7th Best City to Start a Career, and DatingAdvice.com ranked Fremont No.10 on its list of 19 Best Cities to Start a Family. We know that businesses give great consideration to their employees when deciding where to establish a home base, so it’s no wonder that these family and career attributes are so closely intertwined.
Analyzing the 150 largest U.S. cities, WalletHub used 19 key metrics to determine the strength of their job markets as well as the attractiveness of their social scenes. All in all, Fremont was a standout in the rankings.
In addition to being a great place to get your career started, it doesn’t hurt that Fremont is also an ideal location for raising a family. Besides ranking Fremont as a Best City to Start a Family, DatingAdvice.com also recognized the City as having an urban, hometown feel. The article also highlighted Fremont’s moderate climate and easy access to things like shopping, major universities, recreation, and scenic locations.
My team takes great satisfaction in the quality of Fremont’s parks, open spaces, and activity centers. We also pride ourselves in reflecting business acumen in how we provide services. The external validation that this is contributing to the City’s business proposition is not only gratifying, but also challenges us to be even more creative and responsive.
While we don’t allow fireworks in Fremont, we do have a lot to celebrate this Fourth of July. Here’s to our can-do community, our families, and the fun we’ll have together.Read less x
With the train literally about to roll into the new Warm Springs BART station, and development activity quickly beginning to take shape in the area, we’ve been thinking about opportunities related to the most innovative technologies that make a “smart cit…
With the train literally about to roll into the new Warm Springs BART station, and development activity quickly beginning to take shape in the area, we’ve been thinking about opportunities related to the most innovative technologies that make a “smart city.” One example that caught our attention was a project recently announced by Panasonic and the City of Denver.
In December, Panasonic Enterprise Solutions announced that it will create a hub for its fast-growing business solutions operations and a technology center adjacent to Denver International Airport as part of a 400-acre Master Planned Transit Oriented Development (TOD) called Peña Boulevard Station. Creating an estimated 300 jobs, the business expansion will include the company’s operations base and assembly facility.
Panasonic Enterprise Solutions Company, a division of Panasonic Corporation of North America, develops, installs, and maintains large-scale “eco-solutions,” including end-to-end solar energy projects while also delivering technological and financial solutions to the rapidly expanding commercial and industrial renewable energy markets. Along with the project developer and local government agencies, Panasonic plans to make the area around its site a global showcase for state-of-the-art sustainable community development.
The idea is to create a community anchored by businesses representing the following categories within the “smart lifestyles” sector — energy, security, mobility, health care, and community. These are the underlying principles for the recently opened Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town, a sustainable smart green community developed by Panasonic near Tokyo.
We are intrigued. With one of the strongest clean tech clusters in the Bay Area and a TOD opportunity twice the size of Pena Boulevard Station, the idea of coordinating high-level “smart” systems integration with new urban development is worth investigating. We will continue to study examples like Denver as the Warm Springs Plan progresses.
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With long-time City Engineer Norm Hughes now serving as public works director, Fremont looks to Hans Larsen from the City of San Jose to lead engineering efforts here in Fremont. Here he discusses his new role, future projects, and what Fremont residents …
With long-time City Engineer Norm Hughes now serving as public works director, Fremont looks to Hans Larsen from the City of San Jose to lead engineering efforts here in Fremont. Here he discusses his new role, future projects, and what Fremont residents and businesses can expect in the coming years.
Fremont: What is the role of the city engineer? (Unlike most engineers in Silicon Valley, we know you aren’t developing apps or writing code!)
Hans Larsen: I work with a great team responsible for managing the planning, design, and construction of Fremont’s public infrastructure, primarily related to the street system and public buildings. We also manage the City’s property transactions and the day-to-day traffic operations of the local street system.
Fremont: What are Fremont’s highest transportation priorities in the next few years, and how do they link to Fremont’s economic development efforts?
HL: The biggest transportation priority is to capitalize on Fremont’s increasing access to the BART system, the core of the Bay Area’s transit network and used by about 450,000 people daily, which interestingly, is double the Fremont population. The new South Fremont/Warm Springs BART Station will open soon and will be the catalyst for a whole new urban community surrounding the station. At the same time, the existing Fremont BART station is being transformed into a gateway for the emerging Downtown Fremont area. The connectivity between BART and Downtown Fremont will be enhanced with a convenient and attractive network of walking paths and bikeways.
Fremont: What project(s) are you most looking forward to working on?
HL: The public infrastructure and private development projects in the Downtown and Warm Springs areas will certainly be highlights, but I also like taking care of the basics. With the leadership support of Fremont’s mayor and city council, we have resources to improve citywide pavement conditions and upgrade our aging traffic signal systems. For our public buildings, like the animal shelter, community centers, and historic buildings, we are moving forward with investments to replace roofs, upgrade aging mechanical systems, and improve functionality. As much as we all enjoy the ribbon-cuttings for new facilities, it is equally rewarding to see that our existing infrastructure is well maintained and preserved.
Fremont: How do you see Fremont’s move to strategic urbanism changing the way we get around?
HL: In addition to more walking and biking, there is a new generation of other transportation systems that will likely change how we get around. This includes car sharing, bike sharing, transportation network companies (like Uber and Lyft), and sometime in the near future we will have self-driving transit shuttles and cars. It is going to be very interesting to see how the future of transportation evolves. The new urban areas of Fremont could be ideal proving grounds for transportation technology, given our stature as one of the largest cities in Silicon Valley.
Fremont: Since you’ve been hired, what has surprised you the most about the City of Fremont?
HL: There have been several pleasant surprises, including the very strong camaraderie among Fremont employees, commitment to quality public service, the number of great ethnic restaurants, and the incredibly efficient city council meetings.
Fremont: What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
HL: Spending quality time with family is what I enjoy most these days. I love bicycling, and my vision for how this can be a key element of a sustainable and healthy community has been shaped by opportunities to travel by two wheels in some of the world’s best bicycling cities like Amsterdam, Berlin, and Copenhagen.
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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.