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By Tim Hunt

Innovation is soaring in Tri-Valley start-ups

Uploaded: Apr 28, 2022

The innovation infrastructure and environment improves consistently here in the Tri-Valley.
That’s one of the takeaways from Tri-Valley Ventures/Mirador Capital annual gathering to update limited partners and others that took place last week in person—what a pleasure to gather and chat with others face-to-face.
Two key developments are:
• Daybreak Labs signing a lease for a 7,000-square-foot space in east Livermore for its next stage of growth—I reported this earlier this month. A key element is the role of Tri-Valley Ventures, the local venture capital fund. The incubator will provide a year of free lab space to biotech or deeptech companies that Tri-Valley Ventures selects to participate in a residency program. Additionally these companies will receive funding and expertise from the firm.
• Tri-Valley Ventures has invested in 18 early stage local companies over the past three years and it has been so successful that it now is launching its second fund. Managing Partner Greg Hitchan reported that two companies have gone public, while two others were acquired.
Mirador Capital has tracked its Tri-Valley Index of publicly held companies against the S&P 500 since 2010. In 2021, the index grew by 40.3% compared to 26.9% for the S&P. Since its first year of tracking in 2015, the Mirador local index has performed 2 ½ times better than the national index. Since 2010, when the Mirador index and the S&P were essentially the same, the local index has soared with an annualized return of 35% versus 14% for the S&P. Public companies range from Ross Stores to Chevron to Simpson Strong Ties to McGrath RentCorp to Form Factor.
Tri-Valley companies received $1.4 billion in venture capital in 2021 in 68 deals.
The annual report includes demographic updates that show that the Tri-Valley remains a prime area for people raising their families in the 35-54 age bracket with 55% financing their home with mortgages. These also are more affordable based on household income than other Bay Area regions. The Tri-Valley’s median household income tops the South Bay, inner East Bay and San Francisco for the last five years, hitting $161k in 2021.

In addition, the Tri-Valley mix of single-family homes on relatively large lots in older neighborhoods was perfect for young families seeking more space in work-at-home times. That coupled with the geographic location allowing counter-commutes from the inner Bay Area and access to the San Joaquin Valley skilled workforce demonstrate why Joe Callahan and the Prudential Insurance Co. developed Hacienda Business Park in Pleasanton in the early 1980s.

It remains striking how diverse the sectors that the growing companies represent, as I observed earlier when reporting on the Innovation Tri-Valley Leadership Group’s Gamechanger awards.