Pleasanton Weekly

News - July 15, 2011

Livermore opens regional innovation hub

I-GATE offers help to energy entrepreneurs

by Jeb Bing

I-GATE has opened its business hub in Livermore as part of a regional effort to assist entrepreneurs and businesses develop advanced clean energy and efficient transportation systems.

In a launch ceremony at I-GATE's new but unfinished center at 7693 Longard Road, near the Greenville Road-I-580 interchange in east Livermore, Rob White, the coordinator of the I-GATE project, said the hub will serve as a "unique public-private partnership" for Livermore and eight other nearby cities.

He said the I-GATE "incubator" program, although managed by the city of Livermore, will provide mentoring, entrepreneurial education and assistance throughout the Tri-Valley region. By offering collaboration opportunities, access to venture capital and networking events and seminars, the hub should foster greater development of "green" businesses with high growth potential.

Located just north of the Lawrence Livermore and Sandi laboratories, White said the complex will offer technical and commercialization assistance from both along with internships and innovation ties to the University of California.

More than 300 supporters turned out for the opening day ceremony that featured federal, state and Tri-Valley speakers, including Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek). Mayor Marshall Kamena led the Livermore government delegation, with Mayors Karen Stepper of Danville and Abram Wilson of San Ramon and several council members from Dublin and Pleasanton representing their cities.

Local businesses, including Comcast, the event sponsor, displayed advanced transportation and other developments that came as a result of the synergy and collaboration fostered by I-GATE.

White, who is Livermore's economic development director, said business incubators at the I-GATE hub will provide support services and resources to young companies with the goal of developing them into financially viable businesses.

"This process will help equip them with the tools for long-term survival and growth," he said.

He explained that the foundation of services provided by an incubator are management guidance, which includes mentoring related to business strategy, operations, marketing, legal and financial services.

An unusual element of I-GATE incubator is that it is closely linked to a variety of research and development programs and state-of-the-art facilities at the nearby national laboratories. Some of the research facilities at these labs, such as the Combustion Research Facility at Sandia and the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore, are far beyond what universities can offer at business incubators near them.

I-GATE has been designated as one of six "innovation hubs (iHubs)" in California by the governor's Office of Economic Development.

I-GATE is a member of the National Business Incubator Association. That group estimates that in 2005, alone, business incubators supported over 27,000 start-up companies in North America, providing full-time employment to more than 100,000 workers.

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