San Diego’s Wireless Industry Establishes Startup Incubator

At a time when communications startups are about as rare in San Diego as a newborn Panda at the zoo, the local wireless industry is delivering a nursery. CommNexus, the San Diego communications industry group, and San Diego-based Leap Wireless (NASDAQ: LEAP) are establishing a non-profit business incubator here to nurture startups developing communications technologies.

CommNexus CEO Rory Moore tells me that San Diego’s new business incubator, dubbed EvoNexus, is intended to provide a safe harbor for entrepreneurs who have been caught in the worst recession in decades. “We have a lot of very talented engineers who have been laid off,” says Moore, who was a founder or co-founder of seven companies, including San Diego’s Silicon Wave and Peregrine Semiconductor. “Two years ago, the best and brightest kids were sucked up from the Jacobs School of Engineering at UCSD, and now they can’t find a job.”

In an e-mail blast sent to thousands of recipients yesterday afternoon, CommNexus issued a “call for applications” that invites telecom-minded entrepreneurs to launch their startup in the new incubator, dubbed EvoNexus. The incubator hopes to host one or two startups by July and as many as 10 by the end of the year, according to Cathy Pucher, executive director of EvoNexus.

Cathy Pucher

Cathy Pucher

Pucher says she’s targeting startups that specialize in communications and communications convergence technologies, such as in wireless life sciences, or wireless smart grid equipment. Among other things, applicants will be judged on the soundness of their development plan, target market, domain experience, and willingness to participate in entrepreneurial education programs. Pucher is a longtime industry veteran currently a co-founder and executive vice president at HuTribe, a San Diego startup focused on mobile social management applications.

The EvoNexus incubator will provide free and fully furnished office space, utilities, Internet access, and education and business mentoring by local executives and other volunteers. Startups will be allowed to stay for as long as two years, and will have no financial or other obligations to EvoNexus after they depart.

San Diego-based Leap Wireless, which provides low-cost wireless services through its Cricket Communications subsidiary, is donating office space for the incubator in Sorrento Valley, where Qualcomm and scores of other tech companies reside.

Moore acknowledges that getting venture funding for such startups is another matter. “It’s miserably hard for a company to get funded … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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