Innovation Tri-Valley Works to Help Build the Partnerships - and Empathy - that Define the Region

The Tri-Valley has a number of remarkable traits that make it a wonderful place both to live and work. Elements like wonderful weather, a business climate that benefits companies whether they are large corporations or disruptive start-ups, a highly-qualified labor pool, and the presence of two national laboratories combine to form a unique and peerless environment.

Pursuing the case that the region should have the same global cachet as San Francisco or Silicon Valley is one of the goals of Innovation Tri-Valley, a business-led organization working to improve the region's business climate and the quality of life.

"It has the assets but it doesn't have the name, and branding can make a huge difference when it comes to bringing in business," says Dale Kaye, executive director of Innovation Tri-Valley. "We have to elaborate on what the talent is here and get that message into larger business publications, to brand it as a place that you want to live."

The organization was founded in 2010, initially as part of the Livermore Chamber of Commerce, following a chamber event called, "How the Tri-Valley Fits Into a Global Economy." That gathering prompted a closer examination of the area's assets and deficits, spurring the creation of committees focused on issues ranging from business innovation to marketing as well as housing, infrastructure, and transportation and a number of reports on their findings.

"We went from that initial event to doing a far more comprehensive report on what the assets were and how we can align divisions so that business can partner with government to create a friendlier place, a more innovative place to live," says Kaye. "We've been moving forward pretty fast. We started with about six or seven sponsors and now we're at 79."

Innovation Tri-Valley's values include both innovation and empathy. "Creating an environment for empathy is very important," Kaye says. She notes that the group's founder, Marty Beard, who is now the COO of BlackBerry, stressed a holistic approach to community. "It had to be 'all boats rise with the tide' - it could not be exclusive, it had to be something that helped everybody. That part is very close to our hearts. It sounds corny but it really is." In that vein, the group has sponsored TEDx events on topics including the power of empathy in place making and fighting NIMBYism.

"Our commitment to empathy is why we took a stand on housing for the county housing bond, and it's why we also go to city council meetings to try to provide more housing for people," Kaye says. "It's not just a business proposition. We've found that kind of collaboration and empathetic area is really something people are seeking. Silicon Valley and Los Angeles, where I'm from, have reputations of sort of the barracuda mentality, but if you live in a kinder place, it's a good thing."

The coming year promises to be quite busy for the group. Scheduled so far are a rollout of the new Innovation Tri-Valley brand in January as well as their big annual events, the State of the Tri-Valley - produced in conjunction with the San Francisco Business Times - and the East Bay Innovation forum. "We illuminate the pockets of industry that we have here at these events, and we usually have somebody come in from the national press to moderate," Kaye says. "So far, we've had Forbes, CNN, and Bloomberg, and that serves two purposes: It helps get people to come and it also helps those reporters to know more about the Tri-Valley for any follow-up stories."

Also on the calendar is Dream Makers and Risk Takers, an October event to celebrate young innovators. "The four school districts and Las Positas College all nominate their most outstanding students, and it can go from nine-year-olds to 20-year-olds," says Kaye. "It's an amazing event because these kids always seem to have this perspective that leads them down the path of both technology and social innovation."

All the events speak to Innovation Tri-Valley's core mission - working to create an interconnected hub of innovation in the Tri-Valley that spurs job growth and sustains a healthy economy and a vibrant community - as well as the group's current focus on workforce development and enhanced STEM education.

For additional information on Innovation Tri-Valley or to join, e-mail Dale Kaye, CEO, at The group's web site is at

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