First Steps Taken To Create An Accelerator For Irvine 

Welcome back to The Sunstone Way.

It was a momentous evening last Tuesday, Sept. 12. The Irvine City Council unanimously approved a “Letter Of Intent To Establish Irvine Accelerator With Sunstone Management.”

It is hard to overstate the magnitude of that action. We’re still a long way from the first cohort of new technology startups beginning their training at the Irvine Accelerator – maybe another year from now – but we now have a path forward to partner with our hometown to establish a base to boost the already strong startup business ecosystem in Irvine.

This process began when we moved our headquarters from Long Beach to Irvine and our founder, John Shen, was asked to be one of the original members of the Irvine Innovation Council. Last September, the Innovation Council suggested, and the City Council agreed, that work should begin to develop an economic development program to identify Irvine as the premier location in the region for people seeking to found and establish high-tech and future-focused businesses.

Public-Private Partnership In Action

We often talk about the partnership between the public and private sector to catalyze economic growth but here’s how Mayor Farrah Khan explained the process in her memo to the council:

“In order to bring this program concept to reality, the City and Sunstone have developed a non-binding Letter of Intent (LOI) that I would like to introduce for City Council consideration. The LOI identifies the vision, mission, and objectives of the partnership between the City and Sunstone, and lays out a series of responsibilities for both parties to engage as we work towards development of a formal Memorandum of Understanding to create the Irvine Accelerator.”

I couldn’t have said it any better!  Building a great economic development strategy requires that both the government and private capital work together on the mission, vision, and priorities unique to that community.  This LOI is a model that we have used in Long Beach and New York—working with partners to create a shared model and structure for long-term economic benefit.

Many thanks to our Economic Development Director, Eric Romero, for his hard work on this project. And the work has just begun.

Looking Ahead

As soon as the letter has been signed, a local working group—consisting of experienced entrepreneurs, investors, lawyers, accountants, and subject matter experts from the community–will come together to create a nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of early-stage, innovative businesses into venture-ready companies. This will attract both public and private investment, create jobs, and drive economic growth in and around Irvine by providing capital and business assistance to innovative entrepreneurs.

Once the accelerator organization is set and an office space found, the working group will finalize budgets and staffing. We’re looking forward to welcoming the first cohort of Founders about this time next year.

A Member of the Community

My personal and professional purpose is to build community and there is no greater satisfaction than helping your hometown to do something lasting that will benefit the community for years to come.  Sunstone is excited to be helping to lead this endeavor with the Mayor and the City of Irvine. We know it works – we were one of the founding partners of the successful Long Beach Accelerator, after all. Oh, and did I mention that we were ranked the 7th most active early-stage venture capital firm nationally by PitchBook in their second quarter report?

While we are proud to be a leading partner in this effort, we are just that – a partner. As our Economic Development Director Eric Romero said, “this effort will truly take a village and will require collaboration with other startup development organizations, subject matter experts, serial entrepreneurs, large corporations, academic institutions, and investors. We are committed to collaborating with the City and the Irvine community to inform the development of an Irvine Accelerator that everyone can help to make a success.”

This is an exciting time. This is another example of the Sunstone How, and The Sunstone Way.

And as always, be a Sunstone!

John Keisler

CEO & Managing Partner

Sunstone Management, Inc.

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More About Sunstone Management
Sunstone Management is a diversified private capital sponsor firm headquartered in Southern California that invests in diverse early-stage technology entrepreneurs who seek to build great companies. We believe in the aspirational power of the American economy to attract and inspire investors and entrepreneurs from throughout the world. We deliver new and exciting opportunities for economic growth through the creation of innovative public-private partnerships, and our unique experience across government, education, and private sectors. Identified by Financial Times as one of America’s Fastest Growing Companies three years in a row.

© Sunstone Management Inc., 2023

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