Display Technology That Shines Like Butterfly Wings, Venture Capital Resets Business, Promising Start-Ups Recognized, & More San Diego BizTech News

San Diego has retained its status among the country’s top regions for innovation, but the hometown venture community is contracting to the point where venture funding is back where it was in the 1990s.

—Qualcomm is getting ready to deliver its latest innovation, a display screen for mobile devices that provides great visibility outdoors. The San Diego chip giant’s Qualcomm MEMS Technologies subsidiary has commenced operations in its display fabrication facility in Taiwan. Qualcomm’s mirasol display mimicks the shimmering color of butterfly wings, which also serve as the mirasol logo.

—Mission Ventures’ Robert Kibble says the venture capital community is undergoing a reset of the business, “and the basic reason is that the returns have not been good.” San Diego business leaders recruited Kibble to relocate here in 1996, after Netscape Communications’ breathtaking IPO in 1995. But now Mission Ventures, the firm he founded in 1997, is among a dwindling number of San Diego-based VCs that are still actively investing.

—In the countdown among high tech cities, San Diego remained at No. 7, according to a North American ranking released last week by The Milken Institute. Silicon Valley is No. 1, Seattle rose to a surprising No. 2, and Boston fell to No. 3. Metropolitan areas were ranked by “their ability to grow and sustain thriving high-tech industries.”

—Ernst & Young has crowned Quake Global’s CEO Polina Braunstein as San Diego’s High Tech Entrepreneur of the Year. Quake Global makes satellite transponders for tracking purposes for companies in trucking, heavy equipment, aviation, and maritime industries. Braunstein turned Quake Global’s business around after she was named CEO in 2003.

—The UC San Diego Entrepreneur Challenge named its award-winners in a university-wide business plan competition that had its finals Monday night. Biological Dynamics, a medical diagnostics startup led by Raj Krishnan, won the first prize of $40,000. Best high-tech/IT start-up was Radiofast, which creates better X-ray technologies.

—San Diego’s Synthetic Genomics and its renowned scientist J. Craig Venter may soon create headlines with their algae fuel initiative. Two of Venter’s major research & development lines are coal and algae, and he has suggested Synthetic Genomics is preparing an announcement for a scaled-up operation in the near future. One plan could lead to the creation of “home breweries” that use genetically engineered algae to produce backyard fuel that would be almost ready to use.

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