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Innovation City: Does Sacramento Have What It Takes To Be One?

  • Auditorium - E. Clara Raley Studios for the Performing Arts 2420 N Street Sacramento, CA, 95816 United States (map)

California Groundbreakers and Comstock's Magazine partnered up to present "Innovation City" at the CLARA auditorium on January 23, 2017.


Before he left office, former Mayor Kevin Johnson put a plan in place to jumpstart Sacramento's innovation economy. That includes investing $1 million in local companies via the city’s RAILS grant program, which stands for Rapid Acceleration, Innovation and Leadership. So what's next? If Sacramento wants to succeed in becoming an innovation hub, what needs to happen now?

Mayor Darrell Steinberg, kicked off the talk with his hopes and plans for jump-starting innovation in Sacramento. Then a moderated Q&A with some RAILS grant winners and other innovators about how they're helping to turn Sacramento into an innovation city.

* Brian Collins, chief advisor to the accelerator program at I/O Labs -- it's expected to roll out later this year, inside the multi-level building I/O Labs is renovating near the Golden 1 Center (see the Comstock's story on all the efforts and expectations)

* Alona Jennings, co-founder of Operation Innovate -- she runs this program that gives digital badge certification in top STEM careers to Sacramento's underserved youth, and just received a $50,000 RAILS grant (Operation Innovate's Facebook page)

* Vaibhav Nadgauda, managing partner at Moneta Ventures -- one of Sacramento's few venture capital firms, Moneta recently announced it would give $60,000 each to 20 startups in I/O Labs' new accelerator program, planned for 2017 (details about that partnership)

* Clay Nutting, food- and arts-focused entrepreneur -- he helped put Lowbrau, TBD Fest and Art Street on the map; his latest efforts are the restaurant Canon, which boasts a Michelin-starred chef, and Art Street, which just got $25,000 from the Mayor's Innovation & Growth Fund

* Crystal Strait, senior advisor to Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg -- she helped set up the Mayor's Innovation & Growth Fund, as well as the City of Sacramento's Creative Economy Initiative, which includes funding for local arts, food and tech initiatives

* Eric Ullrich, co-founder and chief operating officer of Hacker Lab -- it offers office space, tools and training for makers and entrepreneurs in Midtown Sacramento, Rocklin, and possibly soon in Rancho Cordova



* 5:30 - 6pm: Doors open -- buy a drink, find a seat

* 6- 7:30 pm: Mayor Steinberg starts things off; Moderator interviews panelists, then the audience gets to ask the questions

* 7:30-8 pm: Mix and mingle with the panelists and each other


Some interesting articles about the state of innovation in our capital city:

* Can Sacramento Be the Capital of Entrepreneurship? A Comstock's story on how startups and local government are teaming up to make the city an innovative hub for high tech.

* Sacramento Pushes Into "Gov" Tech (subscriber-only right now) As a government town, Sacramento may be perceived as stodgy. But as a center for developing technology to improve government, it could be perceived as innovative.

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