The Innovation Tri-Valley Leadership Group (ITV), a Pleasanton-based company, is engaged in an effort to identify the challenges and opportunities likely to be experienced over the next 20 years, while maximizing those opportunities for the Tri-Valley.

"The Innovation 2040 Tri-Valley Vision Plan is helping the community to develop a shared vision for the region in 2040 by expanding innovation and entrepreneurship activities, and enhancing the strong talent base already found here,” said Lynn Wallace Naylor, CEO at ITV. “The 2040 plan is helping our innovation ecosystem find essential opportunities for housing, transportation, and other infrastructure projects needed to ensure long-term success for everyone."

As part of the initiative, ITV, in conjunction with Bay Area Council Economic Institute, recently hosted a web-based workshop to discuss innovation and the role that forward-looking companies will play in the continued economic development of the Tri-Valley.

“Projecting what the region is going to look like in 2040 is interesting to say the least,” said Steve Lanza, ITV board chair, as he kicked off the workshop. “But this is part of the process that we’ve been going through over the course of the last year with the goal of providing actual policy recommendations, potential partnerships and investments that can help us grow the Tri-Valley into 2040. The plan is to focus on bold new ideas that can leverage the Tri-Valley’s existing assets and capabilities and create new building blocks for our long-term growth ... In addition to housing and transportation, the plan has two other areas of focus. One is education and one is innovation.”

The first portion of the innovation workshop focused on broad, macroeconomic trends, while the final segment focused more narrowly on the role of innovation in the region over the next couple of decades. Sharing their insights during the second part of the meeting were Brandon Cardwell, Daybreak Labs in Livermore director, and Les Schmidt, Bishop Ranch Intelligence Innovation Accelerator founder and director.

Attracting and retaining talent is key to developing the innovation and entrepreneurship community, Cardwell said. But, he observed, the rising cost of living may be a major disincentive for people considering a move to the area.

“The Tri-Valley is still doing phenomenally well, especially relative to the rest of the country,” Cardwell said. “It will be interesting to look at Gen Z, which is slated to be the most diverse, best-educated generation ever by the end of the next decade. Will this generation, which will have 50% of its population be people of color, be attracted to a place like the Tri-Valley, which has historically not been particularly representative of the broader Bay Area community? Is that something we need to be paying attention to? There are lots of things that can drive what the next 20 years looks like. The good news is that a bunch of it is actually in our hands.”

Schmidt disavowed any notion of wanting to develop the Tri-Valley as the ‘next Silicon Valley.’ Instead, he believes there is an opportunity to create a community based on the region’s unique blend of resources.

“We have three centers of excellence based on some historical things,” Schmidt said. “They are enterprise software, life sciences and smart manufacturing ... The talent pool that tends to be here is reflective of the companies that have been here, grown and been successful. We have those resources in our community in an intangible way. What we can do a much better job of over the coming years is coalesce those resources. We want to be associated with those three (sectors) in people’s thinking. That’s the kind of building opportunity we have over the next 20 years.”

Focusing on technology and innovation is not done at the expense of the small business community, the hospitality community or any sector operating in the community, stressed Cardwell. Investment in technology and innovation, he said, fuels other sectors.

“We view these things, not only as compatible, but as symbiotic,” Cardwell said. “Our goals around technology and innovation are certainly not ends unto themselves. They’re actually a means to an end of creating the most livable and interesting and experience-driven community we can.”