Posted by: goalpath | December 4, 2009

Given its Budget Woes and Unemployment Rate, Can California Continue to Lead the Nation in Innovation and Technology?

Since the recession began, California’s budget deficit issues and double digit unemployment rates have a lot of people wondering if the state can continue leading the nation in technology and innovation. Ask most Californians, and they will tell you they don’t believe their state is quite ready to throw in the towel. In fact, their ability to innovate will not only play a role in their recovery, but in America’s recovery as well.

And even though I am a Texan living on the Silicon prairie in Austin, a city with one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, I am convinced that California will do more than their share in helping lead this country out of recession. Why am I convinced California can bounce back and provide leadership in our nation’s recovery? Even when I was a young guy growing up in the fifties, I noticed that most trends began in California and didn’t hit the other states for at least six months to a year. Some trends never made it to Dallas, Des Moines or Minneapolis.

Of course, if that were my only evidence, I am not sure I could convince anyone that California would be able to maintain its position as a leader in technology and innovation. First, let’s talk about green industries. There’s Tesla, Fisker and Better Place. These are three electric car companies that believe they can compete with the big three automakers. California leads the nation in fuel economy standards and registered clean energy vehicles. The state leads the nation in the number of Hybrids, electric cars and natural gas powered vehicles on the road.

40% of the solar roof installations in this country exist in California. Solar prices are falling every day and most of the solar companies reside in California. Companies like SunPower, BrightSource, Solar City, eSolar, Nanosolar, and Solyndra. SunPower has over 5,000 employees and builds solar panels not just for residences, but massive power plants for utilities and roof top installations for big box stores. SunPower’s Richmond, California plant assembles the world’s most efficient solar panels in a plant where Ford built Model A’s before World War II.  

The computer scientists and engineers are moving into renewable energy and combining their computer technology expertise with solar and LED technologies. eSolar is really a software application for controlling solar arrays in order to extract the maximum energy from these arrays regardless of the position of the sun. Biotech has been displacing the defense contractors in the San Diego area.

Biotech covers sectors such as Genomic medicine and photosynthetic algae technology. A number of discoveries and treatments have been developed recently through genomic medicine and they are really just scratching the surface. Photosynthetic algae technology could ultimately produce more fuel than corn, sugarcane or soy in the same space. Exxon Mobil and Synthetic Genomics are working on a $600 Million project together to develop fuel from algae.

Vinod Kosla, a co-founder of Sun Microsystems has raised $1.1 billion in venture capital to fund clean energy and biotech companies. Mr. Khosla has invested in Calera, a company working on a carbon capturing cement and Soladigm which is using semiconductor technologies to make energy efficient windows. Another of his investments is Amyris, a startup that is working on a process that will turn sugar into diesel fuel.

A major factor that puts the state on the leading edge has to do with the fact that California venture capitalists invested 43% of all the U.S. venture capital that went into high tech, biotech, renewable energy and other leading edge technology companies in 2008. They also have more scientists, engineers, marketers, lawyers, accountants and other knowledge workers than any other state in the union.

Cisco Systems, a California success that provides a significant portion of the infrastructure that powers the internet, spent millions developing their Telepresence system. Telepresence is the ultra high definition video conferencing system that has reduced the carbon footprints of large corporations that in the past found it necessary to meet with their contemporaries in person at locations around the world. One of Steven Speilberg’s cinematographers helped create the feeling of intimacy in the video output. This is another example how one sector of California’s economy teamed with another sector to improve the breed of both.  

Generally, the little guys like to see the movie star stumble and fall into disfavor. So while the rest of America might be writing off the state governed by a former actor and body builder, folks in California are saying that the recession of 2009 is just another speed bump on the road to glory.  And I, for one, would not consider counting them out just yet. If California were a country, it would be in the G-8.

What’s you take on this topic? Do you think California will lead the nation out of recession?

If you are a Baby Boomer and haven’t joined our community, www.boomeropinion.com, please consider it. It is free and only takes a couple of minutes to sign up. You can share your viewpoint and voice your opinion on the critical issues facing America. And if we recruit enough of you, we can positively impact business and political policies around the country.

What’s you take on this topic? Do you think California will lead the nation out of recession?

If you are a Baby Boomer and haven’t joined our community, www.boomeropinion.com, please consider it. It is free and only takes a couple of minutes to sign up. You can share your viewpoint and voice your opinion on the critical issues facing America. And if we recruit enough of you, we can positively impact business and political policies around the country.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: