Bay Area Council Blog


New Study Maps Dominant EU-Bay Area Economic, Investment Ties

Don’t forget Europe. When it comes to the Bay Area’s and Silicon Valley’s economic ties to the world, Asia and fast-growing China get much of the attention. But, a new comprehensive report the Bay Area Council Economic Institute released today (April 14) finds that where investment and economic integration are concerned, particularly in technology and innovation, Europe is the dominant player.

“Europe is by far the largest overseas investor in the Bay Area, and is the primary destination for Bay Area companies investing abroad,” says Sean Randolph, President of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute who co-authored the report with Vice President Tracey Grose. “The scale of this cross-investment overshadows the scale of cross-investment with China, and reflects a high-level integration of advanced economies.”

The study — Europe and the Bay Area: Investing in Each Other — assesses the diverse ways European talent, investments, and collaboration are significantly shaping the Bay Area’s technology and innovation economy. While technology remains the driving connector behind increasing business and economic integration with Europe, it spans a wide range of industries—including biotech, pharmaceuticals, IT, electronics, engineering, defense, financial services and retail.

The findings come as U.S. and European Union trade negotiators launched a fourth round of talks last month in Brussels on the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which would expand markets and economic opportunities by lowering trade and regulatory barriers.

As connections between Europe and the Bay Area continue to increase, and with them, professional and creative networks, new points of innovation are appearing. The result, as report co-author Tracey Grose describes, “is the emergence of a post-national innovation system, where the frame of reference is not bounded by national or even regional borders but by the diversity and geographic reach of a company or an individual’s network.”

Among the key findings in the report:
•    European firms account for one third of all foreign companies operating in the Bay Area, making Europe the largest global direct investor in the region.
•    Europe invested $4.05 billion in private equity (including some venture capital) in the Bay Area in 2012, almost as much as the rest of the world combined.
•    Bay Area private equity (including some venture capital) investment to Europe reached $3.3 billion, exceeding total investment in the rest of the world.
•    56 percent of outbound investment by Bay Area companies goes to Europe.
•    The Bay Area has a growing presence of both major European companies and startups that are seeking to tap into its technology and innovation pipeline.

“I welcome the findings of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute’s study that clearly reaffirm the deep and broad business ties between the Bay Area and Europe, and the United Kingdom in particular,” said Priya Guha, UK Consul General to San Francisco. “The United Kingdom has the largest business presence in the Bay Area among European countries, and Bay Area companies have more affiliates in the UK than elsewhere in Europe.  A successful Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiation will further strengthen these ties by adding over $100 billion each to the US and EU economies, 75,000 new jobs in California and a 26 percent increase in Californian exports to the EU. And a good deal of this economic benefit can be expected to go to the vibrant Bay Area economy.”

Measured by collaborative patenting, Europe is by far the Bay Area’s most significant innovation partner. Patent registrations that include a Bay Area inventor and at least one foreign co-inventor increased 307 percent between 2000 and 2012. In total, the number has grown from 643 to 2,612. This foreign co-patenting represents a growing share of Bay Area patents, expanding from 5.7 percent in 2000 to 11.3 percent in 2012.

The region’s close economic ties to Europe have also been good for San Francisco International Airport, which saw passenger traffic in 2013 grow 8.3 percent. Air cargo trade with Europe increased 4.3 percent by weight in 2013, while air cargo declined during the same period with other key trading regions, including Canada, Asia and South America.

The report was funded by a research grant from the European Commission along with support from Bank of the West, DLA Piper, San Francisco International Airport, Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation, IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, the Consulate General of Sweden, HSBC, United Airlines, Lufthansa, Wells Fargo and Europort.


Meeting with Sec. Hillary Clinton Cements Partnership on Early Childhood Education

The Bay Area Council was honored this week to meet with Sec. Hillary Rodham Clinton and cement our partnership with Too Small to Fail and The Clinton Foundation on a campaign to promote the importance of early brain development and close the achievement gap. The Council in recent months has been working closely with Too Small to Fail, a joint initiative of The Clinton Foundation and San Francisco-based Center for the Next Generation.

Sec. Clinton expressed her hope that the groups will “roll up our sleeves” to develop creative, affordable and scalable ways to close the vocabulary gap among children aged 0-3 and empower them to realize their full potential. She emphasized the vital role of the business community in making this work successful and thanked both the Bay Area Council and CEO Jim Wunderman for demonstrating leadership on the issue over the years.

Wunderman remarked that the research is irrefutable on the importance of investing in early brain development to ensure children’s success later on in life. The Council’s early childhood education work would not be possible without the support of George Halvorson, Chair of the California First 5 Commission and the Council’s Early Childhood Education Committee, and Council member Kaiser Permanente. Kaiser Permanente last year provided a $500,000 grant to fund the Council’s early childhood education work along with support from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, which hosted the meeting with Sec. Clinton.

Other members that have stepped up with support include AT&T, Wells Fargo, The Sobrato Organization, and Clear Channel Outdoor. Said James Steyer, Co-Founder and Chair of Center for the Next Generation and Founder and CEO of Common Sense Media: “This is a movement whose time has come. We have the leaders to make that happen.” To engage in the Council’s early childhood education work, contact policy Vice President Matt Regan.



With a new round of negotiations beginning last month on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), the timing was perfect for a meeting the Bay Area Council convened this week with Deputy Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Probir Mehta. Mehta briefed Council members on the progress of negotiations on the T-TIP, the proposed free trade agreement between the United States and the European Union. The meeting also coincides with the scheduled release by Bay Area Council Economic Institute on Monday, April 14 of a new comprehensive report examining the important economic ties between Europe and the Bay Area and Silicon Valley. The Council provided Mehta with an advance copy of the report, whose findings show that investment between our region and Europe, particularly in technology, STEM and innovation, dwarfs that of other foreign trade and investment partners.

Mehta discussed a variety of issues with Council members, including IP infringement challenges in China.  He emphasized the importance of trade policy aligning with the needs of U.S. businesses, while highlighting the dual goals of preventing counterfeit flow of products across borders and protecting trade secrets. He underscored the significance of the U.S. and the EU working together to combat IT theft in China and elsewhere.  He also discussed the status of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is designed to promote trade and investment among partner countries around the Pacific Rim. The meeting was a follow up to a gathering the Council convened last fall with United States Trade Representative Ambassador Michael Froman.



Taking the initiative to forge a stronger partnership with business leaders, BART General Manager Grace Crunican and Board members Tom Radulovich and Zachary Mallett this week met with a sold-out crowd at the Bay Area Council to discuss the future of BART and what it means for business stakeholders.

Record ridership combined with aged equipment is creating serious challenges for BART, its riders, and the businesses who rely upon its service.  Three major systemwide projects are critical to sustaining and improving BART’s reliability while also expanding capacity: new train cars, a new train control system, and a new maintenance facility.  Director Radulovich also described several improvements that are targeted to address challenges that are particular to downtown San Francisco stations, including updating escalators and excavating and constructing new side-platforms to expand capacity at Embarcadero and Montgomery stations.

While major projects such as these take years to fund and deliver, BART is also taking immediate steps to improve station cleanliness and security.  For a glimpse of the new rail cars that will begin to arrive in 2017, a full-size mockup will be on display at various locations in the Bay Area during April.



The Bay Area Council hailed the decision by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors on April 1 that allows an innovative commuter shuttle pilot program serving thousands of workers across a range of industries to move forward. The Bay Area Council testified in support of the shuttles and the pilot program.

“This is a victory for sensible transportation solutions, for easing traffic and reducing carbon emissions and for growing our economy,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council. “Commuter shuttles provide an important transportation option for thousands of San Francisco workers, taking cars off of already congested roads and highways and avoiding harmful carbon emissions. The commuter shuttle pilot program will provide valuable information that ensures the shuttles operate in close coordination with the city’s public bus system and minimize any impacts they have on neighborhoods.”

Over the past 18 months, the Bay Area Council has convened tech and other companies that run shuttles in San Francisco to work with city transportation planners and Mayor Ed Lee in developing the pilot program. The San Francisco Metropolitan Transportation Agency (MTA) approved the pilot program in January. It is scheduled to begin in July.

The shuttles each day provide an estimated 35,000 rider trips for thousands of San Francisco residents. The SFMTA estimates that the shuttles eliminate at least 327,000 single-passenger car trips and 8,600 tons of carbon annually, and avoid 43.3 million vehicle miles travelled annually.

A recent poll of 500 likely San Francisco voters by EMC Research in Oakland found that 70 percent support doing the pilot program. Opponents of the shuttles who have attempted to blame them for the city’s skyrocketing housing prices and rents appealed the MTA’s decision on the pilot program, arguing that it should have undergone a full environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act.

“Concerns about lack of affordable housing are real, but the shuttles are the wrong target,” Wunderman said. “The entire region has failed over a generation to create sufficient housing and the soaring demand fueled by strong economic growth is now catching up with us. We must find new and innovative ways to create more housing across all income levels, and it’s an issue on which the Bay Area Council is focused.”

Among the provisions of the proposed pilot program are:
•    Approval of 200 bus stops (out of over 2500 total in the Muni system) to be used by providers;
•    Shuttle providers would have to pay to use Muni bus zones, based on a per stop, per day, cost recovery schedule. Due to Proposition 218, the SFMTA cannot create a fee structure that goes beyond the cost to provide such a service or policy;
•    Providers would operate in accordance to agreed-upon guidelines, such as yielding to Muni and pulling to the front of the zone making more room for other vehicles, and avoiding steep and narrow streets;
•    The SFMTA would enforce these rules to ensure only participating companies are using shared zones. It will be illegal to use all other bus zones;
•    Each commuter shuttle will be issued a unique identification placard so enforcement personnel can easily identify vehicles; and
•    Providers would share data with SFMTA to ensure that location information is available for complaint follow-up, enforcement and to support the agency’s transportation system management.



The Bay Area Council on March 28 joined Leader Nancy Pelosi and other community leaders to call for comprehensive immigration reform this year. Executive Committee member and Hanson Bridgett Managing Partner Andrew Giacomini met privately with Leader Pelosi and other business and community leaders to discuss the current dynamics around securing reform during the current legislative session. Giacomini told Pelosi and  others there that he had come expecting to talk primarily about immigration reform as a business issue. But after hearing moving stories about the misery the current broken immigration system is causing many people, Giacomini said he was reminded that immigration reform is as much a human issue.

During a news conference following the meeting, Leader Pelosi talked specifically about HR 15, legislation that Democrats are seeking to bring to a vote in the House of Representatives. The bill includes provisions for border security goals that must be achieved in five years; creates a “registered provisional immigrant” program for undocumented immigrants that allows them to apply for citizenship in 13 years; increases the visa cap on H-1B visas for highly skilled workers in technical fields; establishes a new “W” visa for agricultural workers; and, establishes a phased-in E-verify employment eligibility verification program. The bill is similar to legislation in the Senate that includes many provisions the Bay Area Council supports.

Giacomini also spoke at the news conference and talked about the economic imperative for achieving comprehensive immigration reform to help maintain the Bay Area’s global innovation leadership. He spoke about the importance of removing existing barriers that make it too difficult for the smartest and most motivated people in the world to come to the US, invent here, start companies here, and contribute to our nation’s economic prosperity. To engage in the Council’s federal policy work, contact Senior Advisor George Broder.



With soaring mass transit ridership and growing traffic along the San Francisco-Silicon Valley corridor, the project to electrify and modernize the Caltrain commuter rail system cannot come soon enough. So, it was welcome news that the San Mateo County Transit District (SAMTRANS) recently released the draft environmental impact report for the project. Electrifying and modernizing Caltrain was among the Bay Area Council’s top policy priorities in 2012 and we were instrumental in convening key local and regional transportation leaders to secure the $1.5 billion in funding for the project.

Electrifying and modernizing Caltrain will allow it to run more trains, helping it keep pace with ridership that is expected to climb from the current 55,000 riders a day to 69,000 in 2019 when the project is scheduled to be completed. In addition to the transportation benefits, including providing cleaner, quieter trains, the Bay Area Council Economic Institute estimated in a 2012 study that the project would generate economic benefits of $2.5 billion and create the equivalent of almost 9,600 jobs. (Read the full report here.) In the meantime, the Council is reviewing the environmental report and expects to weigh in during public review and comment period which is scheduled to close April 29. To engage in the Council’s transportation policy work, please contact Vice President Michael Cunningham.

San Francisco Shuttle Bus Poll


Recent protests of employee commute shuttles that have captured headlines around the globe do not appear to reflect the views of a large majority of San Francisco voters.  A new poll by EMC Research released today finds that San Francisco voters instead strongly support commuter shuttles.  Respondents overwhelmingly agree that the shuttles provide strong environmental and traffic benefits, think more companies should offer shuttles, and think they fill important transportation gaps.  Voters want regulation of the shuttles, but not regulation that hinders their operation or expansion.

The telephone poll of 500 likely San Francisco voters found that, overall, 57 percent have a favorable view of the shuttles, and only 18 percent have a negative view. At the same time, 67 percent of voters support allowing commuter shuttles to use a limited number of SF MUNI bus stops, while 70 percent support allowing shuttles as long as they conform to the kinds of regulatory measures that are included in an 18-month pilot shuttles program currently underway in the city.

“Given the many news stories that theorize that San Franciscans are rebelling against the technology boom and shuttle buses, we were surprised to see the opposite is true – San Franciscans indeed embrace tech and the buses,” said Jim Wunderman, President and CEO of the Bay Area Council, which sponsored the study. “It’s also very clear that voters agree with the efforts by Mayor Lee and his administration to manage and regulate the shuttles.  San Franciscans understand the economic and environmental benefits the commuter shuttles and technology sector overall provide to the city and the region, and want them to stay.”

See poll results.

Among the key findings of the poll by Oakland-based EMC Research, which included a margin of error of 4.38 percentage points, are:
•    84 percent of voters think commuter shuttles help get cars off the road, relieve congestion and avoid air pollution
•    81 percent say shuttles encourage commuters to use environmentally conscious transportation means
•    74 percent say the commuter shuttles help supplement existing public transit
•    72 percent support charging shuttles on a cost-recovery basis to use MUNI bus zones
•    70 percent support conducting a pilot study to help the city craft permanent regulations

An estimated 35,000 San Francisco residents rely on the shuttles to commute to school and work daily. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Authority estimates that the shuttles eliminate at least 327,000 single-passenger car trips and 11,000 tons of carbon annually.

The Bay Area Council helped convene tech and other companies that run shuttles in San Francisco to work with city transportation planners and Mayor Ed Lee in developing a pilot program for the safe and efficient operation of the buses. Opponents of the shuttles, alleging they are causing environmental harm, have appealed the program to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, which is scheduled to hold a hearing on April 1.

The poll also delved into voters’ attitudes about the city’s rapid economic growth and the role of the technology industry in driving the expansion. A sizeable 79 percent of voters have a favorable view of the technology sector, consistent with the 69 percent of voters who said creating jobs should be San Francisco’s top priority.

Voters by a wide margin don’t think that the shuttles or the technology industry are to blame for broader issues related to housing affordability, among other problems. Among other key findings from the poll related are:
•    67 percent of voters disagree that commuter shuttles are ruining the character of San Francisco
•    66 percent oppose banning shuttles from MUNI bus stops
•    63 percent disagree that commuter shuttles are a symbol of San Francisco’s problems
•    62 percent support more companies using employee shuttles

“Voters indisputably support growing the economy and creating jobs in San Francisco, and believe the technology sector is playing an important role in doing that,” Wunderman said. “It would be irresponsible and insensitive to minimize the problems that have come with the rapid economic growth we’re seeing, including a dire lack of affordable housing, but a vast majority of San Franciscans think that demonizing an entire industry and class of workers is not the answer to those problems. The region must create more housing to meet growing demand across all income levels, and the Bay Area Council is focusing on ways we can do that.”

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About EMC Research
Founded in 1989, EMC Research is a public opinion and market research firm serving a broad range of clients. Our researchers have been involved in thousands of public opinion studies, ranging from political polling and public policy research to market share and customer satisfaction surveys. EMC Research has offices in Oakland, Seattle, and Columbus, serving a broad base of clients across the country and around the world.  With a full-time staff of 15 professionals, our firm is large enough to efficiently handle large-scale research projects, but small enough to provide personalized attention to each of our clients.



Seeking to create a new model for advancing gender equity, the Bay Area Council on March 18 convened top men and women leaders to focus on the actions companies can take to promote the advancement of women in top leadership positions. The Bay Area Council partnered with the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women and GenderAllies to present Gender Partnership Summit: The Economic Imperative of the 21st Century. Statistics from various sources, including research by UC Davis, McKinsey and Co. and PwC, show that getting more women engaged in top leadership roles can help meet our growing workforce needs and help drive business and economic growth.

See photos from the Gender Partnership Summit

Speakers included Rep. Jackie Speier; Weili Dai, Co-Founder and President, Marvell Technology Group; Cathy Campbell, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Charles Schwab; George Halvorson, former Chair and CEO, Kaiser Permanente; Jim Henry, Market Managing Partner, PwC; Amanda Kimball, author of U.C. Davis Study of California Women Business Leaders; Eric Kutcher, Managing Partner, McKinsey & Co.; Peg McAllister, SVP, Lee Hecht Harrison; Emilie Murase, Executive Director, San Francisco Department on the Status of Women; Kirsten Rhodes, Director, Deloitte Women’s Initiative; Steve Rottler, Vice President, California Laboratory & Energy, Climate and Infrastructure Security, Sandia National Laboratories; and, Jim Wunderman, President and CEO, Bay Area Council.

Our special thanks to Marvell, Lee Hecht Harrison and Hanson Bridgett for sponsoring the event, and to the Sobrato Family Foundation for hosting the summit at the Sobrato Center for Nonprofits.



Decades ago, Silicon Valley overtook Route 128 in Massachusetts as the technology hub of the nation because California’s culture of innovation was backed by visionary policies and investments in infrastructure. Today, new investments and policies that support 21st Century infrastructure and an all-IP communications grid are essential to uphold our technology leadership and serve consumers. Creating that 21st Century Infrastructure is among the Bay Area Council’s lead priorities. The future is clear: over the last decade, the percentage of California households with service from a “traditional” landline provider has dropped by 72 percent, and every month 450,000 consumers nationwide move to new technologies, tablets, smartphones and Internet voice.

At the same time, policies supporting universal service, consumer protection, public safety, network reliability and competition have been backstopped by the legacy network. As consumers increasingly drop their landlines and transition to all-IP networks the private and public sector are grappling with the question of how to make this transition in a way that preserves those social values.

Last month, the Federal Communications Commission took a big step to find an answer. The FCC called on communications companies to voluntarily conduct real-world trials to inform the next generation of policies for future networks. AT&T announced this week that it will conduct trials in Carbon Hill, Alabama, and Kings Point, Florida.  The FCC will oversee these multi-year trials.

“California’s innovation economy relies on next generation networks,” said Ken McNeely, President of AT&T California and Co-Chair of the Council’s 21st Century Infrastructure Initiative. “We’re proceeding with these trials to work with regulators, industry, consumer groups and others, to ensure any issues and challenges can be addressed and that fundamental principles will be met during the trials, throughout the IP transition.”

Read McNeely’s insights on the exploding demand for IP-based services.

To engage in the Council’s 21st Century Infrastructure initiative, please contact Vice President Michael Cunningham.