Published June 21, 2011
Volume 19, Number 6

i-GATE Bolsters Tri-Valley Identity as Cleantech Hub 

Based in part on the principle that like attracts like, i-GATE is reshaping the business identity of the Tri-Valley, transforming it into a regional, green-oriented technology hub.

The acronym stands for Innovation for Green Advanced Transportation Excellence, and the initiative involves a unique cluster of disciplines, from energy and biofuels to biotech and robotics. “A lot of these industries are colliding, creating new energy, literally and figuratively,” comments Rob White, the Economic Development Director for the City of Livermore, who also serves as the i-GATE Innovation Hub Coordinator.

As White explains, “i-GATE is an umbrella term for numerous activities.”  Its most obvious component is the incubator, NEST (National Energy Systems Technology), whose mission is to provide the physical space and business services to support start-ups that focus on clean technology innovations in the energy and transportation sectors. Key collaborators are the City of Livermore, Sandia National Laboratories, and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. It also represents a broad regional partnership with Dublin, Pleasanton, San Ramon, Danville, Fremont, Lathrop, Tracy, and West Sacramento.

Although these municipalities are not all contiguous, they are working together on the shared goal of fostering innovation in cleantech-related business sectors. “What makes this different from every other regional effort is that the municipalities realize their power lies in creating an environment appropriate for driving innovation. You can’t build a business park like Hacienda in a jurisdiction that doesn’t want it,” White points out.

When the region operates as a unified whole, the collective results are far greater than the sum of the parts. “Every jurisdiction has realized that, instead of fighting each other for a piece of the pie, if they collaborate using all their resources they can build a pie factory,” he continues. “Then there will be plenty to go around for everyone.” 

The emphasis on collaboration creates a much more extensive sphere of influence that reaches deep into the strengths of the region.

“Our valley represents one of the largest clusters of brainpower in the nation,” White comments. This constellation of “super-educated, highly intelligent” people is not just a boon to economic development. It is also a prime driver behind the entire span of amenities that contribute to the high quality of life here, which in turn attracts even more entrepreneurial executives. “You can’t discount the social part of this,” he notes.

i-GATE is already bearing fruit. In the last 15 months, the Tri-Valley has seen the addition of over 1,000 new or arriving manufacturing jobs, all in the cleantech sector, White reports. “In a down economy, to add that number of manufacturing jobs in a region is huge.”

There has been growth and change within Hacienda as well. “The business park, known especially for professional services, large medical groups, and software companies, is now starting to acquire a new identity housing small start-ups,” he observes. “Focusing on the i-GATE hub helps promote the area to businesses that might not have been aware of the ecosystem of innovation. This is one more mechanism to boost awareness. Remember, with a rising tide, all boats float.” 

For more information, visit www.igateihub.org


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