Startup Tri-Valley Initiative Builds on Regional Strengths

Earlier this year, Danville, Dublin, Livermore, and Pleasanton joined together with Lawrence Livermore and Sandia National Laboratories to sponsor an initiative called Startup Tri-Valley as part of Livermore's i-GATE Innovation Hub. The goal of the new initiative is to develop a thriving ecosystem for science-based startups that turn technologies into products and make the Tri-Valley region the go-to destination for science-based companies and entrepreneurs, along with related support industries.

Tri-Valley's Unique Advantages

i-GATE Innovation Hub is a nonprofit organization founded in 2010 by the City of Livermore and the two national laboratories. Its long-term mission is to build a vibrant and diverse network of entrepreneurs, which makes i-GATE a natural home for the Startup Tri-Valley initiative. 

"Startup Tri-Valley is really just the culmination of a decade's worth of observing the local startup community and what makes it special," says Brandon Cardwell, i-GATE Executive Director and Initiative Director of Startup Tri-Valley. "We are dedicated to growing the innovation economy in the Tri-Valley by helping more startups succeed. We do this by connecting founders and entrepreneurs with a tightly networked ecosystem of resources and expertise built specifically for science-based startups."

The focus on science-based startups, especially companies with deeply innovative technology and the need to manufacture physical products, is built on unique regional advantages, according to Cardwell. The Tri-Valley offers physical facilities much more affordably than San Francisco or Silicon Valley. Importantly, the region also offers a pool of experienced skilled and managerial talent thanks to successful science-based companies such as 10x Genomics and Unchained Labs that are already thriving locally. Moreover, the national laboratories have long drawn highly educated and skilled individuals for education and employment.

"When you combine the experienced operator talent pool, the relatively low cost of real estate and doing business here, and the larger footprint buildings that we can dedicate to manufacturing and R&D, the area is really ripe for developing a cluster of these kinds of science-based startups," notes Cardwell.

Home-Grown Resources

Over time, i-GATE board members and advisors, sponsors, and Cardwell himself saw the Startup Tri-Valley initiative, focusing on life sciences and deep technology companies, as a form of returning to the region's roots. That focus was possible because additional regional resources that support startups have developed organically over the past several years, he says. Those resources include Tri-Valley Ventures, Mirador Capital, the growth of shared workspaces for entrepreneurs, organizations such as Innovate Tri-Valley and the East Bay Bio Network, and existing Tri-Valley companies working in this area.

"I want to emphasize that while we are leading the Startup Tri-Valley Initiative, the startup ecosystem is being led by a whole bunch of different people who are doing great things," notes Cardwell. "There are now a lot of people joining this party and contributing in new ways. I think the trajectory is the most exciting part. Yes, the Tri-Valley is affluent and has been for a long time, is doing well and is jobs rich, and the quality of life is really high. But we can go even further. We're seeing a doubling down of the investment in this region from people who are really putting their money where their mouth is in terms of what they think this region can be."

Startup Tri-Valley is designed to serve as a central information and networking hub by connecting people, companies, and ideas; sharing news and resources; and offering in-person and virtual networking events and educational workshops. Through these events entrepreneurs can meet colleagues, partners, investors, and customers. A podcast led by Cardwell is meant to promote the Tri-Valley's success as an innovation hub.

There is also a job board, and companies with open positions are encouraged to sign up for the board and post their listings. In November, Dublin-based Amber Solutions was seeking a Principal Electrical Design Engineer, for example. Vector Atomic, which has its headquarters at Hacienda, was looking to hire several atomic, molecular, and optical physicists to build ultraprecise quantum devices. 

"As the fastest growing sub-region in the Bay area, the Tri-Valley is a great place to start and grow a company," notes Stephanie Beasly, who represents Sandia National Laboratories and is Chair of i-GATE's board. "It has the capital, talent, expertise, and resources needed to go from startup to scale, at a fraction of the price of the rest of the Bay Area. We are delighted to be partnering with our neighboring cities with the aim to build an ecosystem that fosters entrepreneurship and strengthens the local economies."

For more information about Startup Tri-Valley, please visit

For more information about i-GATE Innovation Hub, please visit

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