Pasadena may be the best tech story never told. Somehow the home of IdeaLab, OpenX, CalTech, Art Center College of Design, and JPL doesn’t have much of a reputation as a innovation hub. A number of tech companies, such as Bluebeam and Materia, are quietly building powerful businesses, and many startups are in Old Town. Still, Pasadena never hits anyone’s radar as a hot tech destination. We can put a rover on Mars repeatedly, but can’t get press coverage as a tech hub.
Andy Wilson, CEO of Rexter and one of the Partners in Momentum Ventures, is leading an effort to change that situation. The Pasadena Innovation Council, led by Wilson, has brought together the City of Pasadena, CalTech, the Art Center School of Design, the Pasadena Angels, and area business leaders and entrepreneurs to support the growth of the Greater Pasadena Area as a tech center.
The goals are straightforward: 1) brand the Greater Pasadena Area a desirable location for tech companies to startup or locate, and 2) encourage collaboration among companies.
As always, the challenge is in the execution.
The Council has been meeting every two weeks or so for the last quarter, and I’ve joined several of the meetings. There is a bit of a startup feel to the sessions–we meet in borrowed space–IdeaLabs, Materia, CalTech. Since the meetings are usually 5-7pm, various attendees contribute wine (critical to the creative process) and snacks. People arrive after a full day at their “real” job, but there is still energy in the room. It’s a committed group.
The meetings are challenging–this is a strong willed group of business, academic, and City leaders, and they have (ahem) firm notions about how to proceed. The City of Pasadena has given great support. City Manager Michael Beck regularly joins us, as do representatives from CalTech, the Art Center, and the Pasadena Angels. There is a real partnership emerging among all the players, and the group has coordinated efforts for the Pasadena StartUp Weekend, and is bringing in Brad Feld to speak in the near future.
You can follow Pasadena’s progress at Innovate Pasadena on LinkedIn.