Bay Area Council Blog: Science and Innovation Archive


Innovation Bridge: Technology, Startups, and Europe’s Connection to Silicon Valley

The Bay Area Council Economic Institute, EIT Digital, and the Association of European Chambers of Commerce and Business Associations invite you to the release of the Economic Institute’s new report, Innovation Bridge: Technology, Startups, and Europe’s Connection to Silicon Valley. The event will be held next Tuesday, July 25 from 5-8pm at Runway in San Francisco.

Europe is a major economic presence in the Bay Area, through trade, investment, and people. More than any other area of the world, it enjoys strong ties to the region through technology and innovation, and in particular through startups. The report, developed with support from the European Union and regional and international partners, analyzes the dynamic process that each year draws hundreds of European startups and early stage companies to the Bay Area. The event will examine what the startup map of Europe looks like, the environment in Europe for starting and growing technology companies, and the push and pull factors that lead so many startup companies to the Bay Area. Click here to see the full agenda and register>>


Statement: Caltrain Electrification Groundbreaking

MILLBRAE, CA— Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman today joined Governor Jerry Brown, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, Congresswoman Jackie Speier and other key stakeholders at the Millbrae Caltrain Station for the official groundbreaking ceremony of the Caltrain Electrification Project.  The Bay Area Council released the following statement attributable to Jim Wunderman.
“It’s ironic that the region that invents much of the future has struggled with an overcrowded, diesel-powered, 153-year-old rail line running right through its heart – but today that changes. Silicon Valley will soon have a modern, fast and clean rail system that according to our 2012 study, will deliver 9,600 construction and related jobs and generate more than $2 billion in economic activity across America. Our region is not alone dealing with outdated infrastructure and we hope Congress can unite around a large-scale national improvement program this year, making Caltrain Electrification the start of a legacy of new building.”
The Council has long advocated for an electrified Caltrain and helped assemble the original package of federal, state and regional funding for the project. The final push across the finish line came in May when U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao approved a final $647 million grant that had been promised to help pay for the project.
Special thanks goes to Senator Dianne Feinstein who worked very hard behind the scenes to achieve this momentous goal.


Next Steps for Businesses in the California-China Clean Energy Partnership

This week, the Council reunited participants of Governor Jerry Brown’s recent Clean Energy delegation to Beijing, China to discuss next steps. California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols recounted her experiences in China and, building on the momentum of four California-China agreements signed during the trip, as well as described California’s climate change progress through Council-supported cap-and-trade AB 398 and air contaminant-reducing AB 617. Nichols also highlighted the recently announced Climate Action Summit, which will be held in San Francisco in September 2018.

Discussing opportunities for technology transfers, private-public-partnerships, and investment in China in the backdrop of IP risks, Ken Alston (California Clean Energy Fund) and Arthur Haubenstock (8minutenergy Renewables) conclusively indicated latent opportunities for business collaborations within the clean energy sphere.

The event concluded with a presentation from Special Advisor to the Governor, Fan Dai, who spoke to the unique California-China relationship. Her remarks shared efforts underway to create a database that identifies the Chinese technology-gaps California businesses can fill, and opportunities regarding China’s One Belt One Road initiative. Identifying and pushing for business opportunities for California is a primary focus for the Council, which provides a range of services to guide businesses and investors looking to expand in the Bay Area and abroad. To lean how the Council can help businesses find opportunities in China, please contact Chief of Global Business Development Del Christensen.


International Competition for Bay Resilience off to Huge Start

Last month, the Bay Area Council joined with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, San Mateo County Supervisor Dave Pine and other Bay Area leaders to announce the launch of an exciting design competition to solicit innovative solutions to address the effects of sea level rise, severe storms, flooding and earthquakes in communities around the San Francisco Bay. In response, the Resilient by Design/Bay Area Challenge has received an amazing 51 applications from local, national and international teams competing to become one of ten finalists chosen to design innovative projects aimed at improving the health and resilience of Bay Area communities. The final teams will be chosen in the coming weeks, with the designs themselves to be unveiled May 2018. Resilient by Design is an initiative of the Rockefeller Foundation, and a spinoff of the successful Rebuild by Design efforts following Hurricane Sandy. The goal is to help communities become resilient before a natural disaster strikes, rather than after. Rockefeller considered many other regions to award to the Resilient by Design Competition, but chose the Bay Area following the 2016 passage of Measure AA, a Bay Area Council-supported ballot measure that creates $500 million over the next 20 years for wetland restoration and bay flood protection projects. To learn more about Resilient by Design, please contact Bay Area Council Vice President of Policy, and Resilient by Design Executive Board member, Adrian Covert


Workforce Opportunities Soar at United

In a recent tour of United Airlines, the Bay Area Council Workforce of the Future team learned about the ample workforce career pathways offered in aviation. United operates its largest North America maintenance facility here in the Bay Area at San Francisco International Airport. The tour provided an inside look at the extremely complicated planes, parts, machines, and machines that maintain the machines, and highlighted the huge need for technicians and opportunities for entry-level positions that are ladders to technical jobs. There are a variety of jobs from aircraft maintenance to store keeper, who handle all the parts for the aircraft. The technical jobs are growing in demand due to growth in the industry and the aging of the current workforce. For example, the technician occupation only requires an accreditation through a Federal Aviation Administration program that is offered at numerous community colleges. These positions can pay up to $100,000 a year!

There also are a number of career pathways from entry level positions that workers can pursue and earn their technician certificate while working. The huge need for middle skill aviation technicians is why the Bay Area Council will be launching a new occupational council focused on this in-demand industry. On July 6, the Council kicked off a meeting with Pamela Gutman, Deputy Sector Navigator for Bay Area community colleges, and her team of aviation experts to prep for the occupational council with employers. Working with United, as well as our other aviation and logistics members, the Council will work to close the gaps and help our members meet their talent needs. To engage in the Workforce of the Future Committee, please contact Senior Vice President Public Policy, Linda Bidrossian.


Real Reasons to Embrace Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous, or self-driving, vehicles are undeniably cool, but, in their meeting with industry experts from Waymo (Google), Zoox, and Lyft, Bay Area Council Transportation Committee members learned that the real reasons to applaud the development of autonomous vehicles are safety, mobility, and sustainability. Over 35,000 people died in automobile accidents in 2015; 95 percent due to human error; and, after decades of declines, the number of fatalities is rising at 7 percent per year. Fully autonomous vehicles, with no human interaction ever required, are probably the safest solution, and they’re also the solution that will offer mobility to people (blind or disabled, for example) that can’t safely drive themselves.

Our industry experts and Committee members also considered how autonomous vehicles will be owned and used, and concluded that the most likely scenario is that households will choose to reduce their transportation costs by reducing or eliminating vehicle ownership, and instead turning to on-demand transportation services from fleet operators. The Council will continue its efforts to create a clear and hospitable legal environment in California for autonomous vehicle development. To participate, contact Michael Cunningham.


Council Builds on Momentum to Attract Chinese Investment to California

Building on a successful trip with Governor Jerry Brown to China and the Select California Investment Summit in Sacramento, the Bay Area Council’s China team traveled to Washington D.C. this week to represent California with other Economic Development Organizations at the national SelectUSA Investment Summit. The event gathered over 3000 companies from 64 countries around the world to promote foreign direct investment in the United States.  Secretaries from the Departments of Commerce, Energy and Labor offered remarks alongside multinational corporations such as Samsung, General Motors and BCG. China represented the largest proportion of delegates as investors’ interest in the United States continues to grow. In 2016 alone, the United States was the largest recipient of Chinese outbound FDI, totaling $45.6 billion, and nearly one-third of this investment went to California. Attracting foreign direct investment from China and elsewhere is a primary focus for the Council, which provides a range of services to guide Chinese and other investors as they look to enter or expand in the Bay Area and California marketplaces. To learn how the Council can help foreign investors find opportunities in California, please contact Chief of Global Business Development Del Christensen.


New Analysis Looks at Strengths, Weaknesses of Bay Area Economy

The Bay Area Council Economic Institute today released analysis of recent California Employment Development Department (EDD) job and labor force estimates. Here are the highlights:

  • The Bay Area still outpaces the nation in job growth in May 2017, but barely, and state growth lags the nation for the first time in several years.
  • Unemployment and unemployment rates have reached the lowest levels since the boom and labor force growth has disappeared at least temporarily.
  • Job openings nationally are at record levels at the same time unemployment is low and labor force growth is slowing.

Read the full analysis>>

Oak Zoo (6-14-17) (3 of 4)

Oakland Zoo Expansion Benefits Entire Region

The launch of the new California Trail, an $80 million expansion project that will double the size of Oakland Zoo, heralds an exciting new commitment by the Oakland Zoo to enrich the lives of people and wildlife in the Bay Area by connecting people with nature through its extensive public engagement, education and wildlife conservation efforts. Members of the Bay Area Council met last week at an event held at the new California Trail Landing Café to learn about the impact of this new addition to the Bay Area landscape from a social, environmental and economic perspective and the exciting collaboration opportunity that it presents to corporations committed to supporting a thriving Bay Area.

Guests were treated to an enlightening panel discussion between Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Bay Area Council President and CEO Jim Wunderman, San Francisco Travel President & CEO Joe D’Alessandro and Oakland Zoo President & CEO Dr. Joel Parrott on why this new development matters to the people who live, play, work and visit the region. The education and conservation focus of Oakland Zoo were a major topic of discussion amongst the panelists. Oakland Zoo already positively impacts the lives of more than 60,000 young people across the Bay Area each year through a range of STEM-related education programs. California Trail will provide an opportunity to extend the reach of these programs with a focus on increasing access to more Title 1 schools in the region.

“The new gondola and the entire California Trail Project is one of the most exciting additions to come to Oakland and the Bay Area in many years. As a Trustee of Oakland Zoo, I couldn’t be prouder of the incredible efforts of Dr. Joel Parrott, who with the Oakland Zoo team, the Board of Trustees, and many generous people and foundations, have made this incredible project possible” Wunderman said. “It’s now time for Bay Area companies committed to a thriving Bay Area to embrace the opportunity to partner with the Oakland Zoo team in their important work to enrich life for people and wildlife in the region.  Their support will not only be good for the Bay Area but also for the companies themselves as they go about doing good and doing well.”

To learn about partnership opportunities with the Oakland Zoo, please contact Special Assistant to the CEO Suzanne Robinson.


Council Works to Bring Chinese Clean Energy Investment to CA

Fresh from our successful trip with Governor Jerry Brown to China to promote climate change partnership, the Bay Area Council this week joined a first-ever summit to bring billions of dollars in Chinese clean energy investments to California. Organized by the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development in partnership with the California-China Trade Network, the Select California Investment Summit in Sacramento included 22 Chinese investors seeking opportunities in clean tech, water innovation, sustainable development, zero emission vehicles, and more. Attracting foreign direct investment from China and elsewhere is a primary focus for the Council, which provides a range of services to guide Chinese and other investors as they look to enter or expand in the Bay Area and California marketplaces. Chinese investment represents a huge opportunity for California, which from 2000-2016 secured 415 investment deals valued at $25.5 billion from mainland China investors. Statewide, global investment in California employs 631,500 workers. To learn how the Council can help foreign investors find opportunities in California, please contact Chief of Global Business Development Del Christensen.