Connect Adopts New Measures to Boost the Innovation Economy

Xconomy San Diego — 

Connect, the San Diego nonprofit group for technology and entrepreneurship, said its board has approved a series of initiatives intended to stimulate the long-term formation of technology startups. The initiatives, which will be supervised by Connect CEO Duane Roth, are supposed to attract more early stage investment capital, and influence innovation policies set by the federal government.

The board also promoted Camille Sobrian, Connect’s chief operating officer, to president. She will continue to oversee the 26 programs that provide training and related support for San Diego entrepreneurs, as well as the 360 technology and life sciences events that Connect helps to coordinate every year.

“I’m thinking about the big picture, about the things that can help the community in the long term, rather than just the programs and events, and so forth,” Roth says. He plans to continue to lead Connect’s economic development initiatives, as well as Connect’s efforts to shape federal policy and advocacy in Washington, D.C.

Connect’s new strategic initiatives include:

—Establishing an “Innovation Institute” in Connect’s San Diego office that will develop policy recommendations on ways to expand the innovation economy, primarily by studying key factors for innovation and describing the results in “white papers” for policy-makers. Peter Cowhey, UC San Diego Dean of International Relations and Pacific Studies, was named to head the institute.

—Enabling San Diego startups to meet with venture capital investors in the San Francisco Bay Area, the largest source of venture capital in the United States. “The concept I have is to open an office up there, with a person coordinating the meetings,” Roth said. “I want to get much more proactive about this.”

—Introducing a short-term jobs initiative to increase awareness of job opportunities for scientists and engineers in the San Diego region.