An Xconomy Analysis: Five Ideas to Boost San Diego’s Software Sector
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opportunities for startup CTOs and CIOs in San Diego, the extent of startup activity here, or the potential long-term rewards. Perhaps an internship with the EvoNexus incubator could help address that.
Such problems are hardly unique to San Diego. Most U.S. cities with major universities and technology clusters are trying to emulate Silicon Valley’s innovation ecosystem. Still, it seems only prudent for San Diego to find new ways to bolster its local software sector. With that goal in mind, I spent months talking with local tech leaders and investors about the software sector’s needs in San Diego, and specific steps that could be taken to bolster the startup community. Here are some suggestions:
Incentive Prize Contests: The X-Prize Foundation has more or less perfected the business of inducing technology innovations by offering multi-million-dollar prizes to achieve something that has never been done. So what about using an incentive prize to advance local economic development in a particular technology sector like software? Why not offer a prize to accelerate advances in software that solves an intractable problem, or addresses an important public concern in San Diego? Organizing a programming competition in a particular field, for example, could serve two purposes—-by identifying new technologies or technical approaches to known problems, and as a technique for identifying and recruiting talented-but-unknown software developers.
CIO Network: Establish an organization for San Diego CIOs modeled on the CIO network that Menlo Park, CA-based Sierra Ventures has created for its portfolio companies (which are all software-focused startups). The Sierra Ventures CIO Network meets regularly to address issues of common concern and emerging technology trends. The network also holds an annual summit to showcase industry leaders and CIOs from the Fortune 1000 list of biggest U.S. companies.
About 10 months ago, a San Diego Web developer, Etienne de Bruin, created an organization called 7CTOs “to positively impact the global competitiveness of the USA by being more innovative, creating more jobs and world-class technology education.” He says 7CTOs requires its members to be CTOs who lead at least five software engineers at San Diego companies with at least $500,000 in annual revenue. There are 21 members so far, and de Bruin writes: “We ask ourselves, what happens when we take technology leaders who are all building their own companies, building their own technologies and put them into communities of practice? Well, after a short 10 months I am pleased to say that we are seeing wonderful relationships forming, more creativity and innovative thought surfacing capped with a genuine desire among CTOs to see each other succeed.”
Are you wondering why you’ve never heard of 7CTOs? De Bruin is the CTO for San Diego-based Monk Development, which specializes in using technology to help churches broaden their reach and deepen their faith-based community.
A Startup Leadership Council: There are at least 16 startup incubators and accelerator programs in San Diego, each with its own entrepreneurship program, advisers, supporters, investors, and methods for funding their operations. They compete for mentors and investors, and to recruit entrepreneurs for their respective programs. Even if they don’t get along, forming a non-denominational leadership council might enable these groups to better coordinate their activities and avoid duplicated efforts.
Software Center of Excellence: Creating a software center of excellence could help bring San Diego’s academic and corporate leaders together to address problems of mutual interest—such as issues that are preventing the industry from growing here. The San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp. gained experience in this area earlier this year, after working with local cybersecurity companies like Eset, Sentek Global, and iboss Network Security to create the San Diego Cybersecurity Center of Excellence.
A software center of excellence would take a broader approach, serving as both a centralized resource for software companies and organizations looking for help—as well as a way to draw local companies together.
A Coders Academy for San Diego: Programmers are getting good-paying jobs whether or not they have a college degree. In other tech hubs, online classes and schools that teach coding as a skilled trade are proliferating to meet a soaring demand for programmers—with names like Codeacademy, Code Fellows, Treehouse, AcademyX, Dev BootCamp, Hack Reactor, App Academy, and even the Google Developers Academy.
Notch8, a San Diego consulting firm that specializes in Ruby on Rails software development, plans to soon begin coding classes in North Park. But with thousands of IT-related job openings going unfilled in San Diego, I’m trying to understand why there aren’t more courses in coding offered here.
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