Building a Technology Innovation Ecosystem in Southern California
Did you know that Southern California, home to renowned Silicon Beach, graduates a larger number of engineers and computer scientists than any other region in the country? Many of these most talented graduates are from USC Viterbi. This dynamic and remarkable talent contributes to the building of some of the region's most exciting new technology companies that fuel Southern California's burgeoning entrepreneurial ecosystem. The stories in this newsletter underscore USC Viterbi's commitment to innovation and creativity and to changing the world, one company at a time.
Confirming the region's prominence and potential and the key role USC is playing in it, the National Science Foundation I-Corps program awarded to a USC-UCLA-Caltech alliance, centered at USC Viterbi, the latest I-Corps national node. In late October, potential technology entrepreneurs from around the country came to this new "I-Node" to turn their ideas into startups. Node Director Andrea Belz, jointly with the USC Greif Center on Entrepreneurship and USC Viterbi, coordinated the exciting three-day session.
The USC Viterbi Startup Garage, the region's only engineering student-led business accelerator, welcomed U.S. Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) Commissioner Kara Stein to the Marina Del Rey space. Commissioner Stein came away "very impressed." Indeed, five of the 10 startups incubated in the inaugural Startup Garage have already raised a total of $5.9 million in follow-on capital, which is a remarkable achievement for a brand new incubator. Among the Startup Garage graduates, MediaHound has raised the most money, with $4.5 million in private investment.
Another one of those companies is Tilofy, maker of the location-specific Watsup app that finds cool restaurants, jazz concerts and the like in real time. Forbes.com described the app as a "mobile technology [that] brings us one step closer to omniscience."
Perhaps the inventor of the next must-have app will develop it in USC Viterbi's new Hacker House, part of the Viterbi Student Innovation Institute (VSI2). The new venture, a quasi-minor league for the Startup Garage, gives students the space and resources to break, tinker and prototype new ideas with the hope of eventually starting a company.
In addition, USC Viterbi's Maseeh Entrepreneurship Prize Competition (MEPC), a business plan competition that offers $110,000 in cash and services, saw its 2013 winner, Second Spectrum, announce an unprecedented collaboration with Steve Ballmer and the Los Angeles Clippers. Second Spectrum, now partnering with seven NBA teams, is a national leader in sports analytics for professional basketball.