Irvine’s city council late last month approved a motion to sponsor an upcoming technology event geared toward early-stage startups and entrepreneurs.
The event, called Irvine Tech Week, will take place from March 22 to 26 and feature open houses, tours, networking opportunities, panels and fireside chats with startup incubators, angel investors, VC firms and educational organizations.
Irvine Vice Mayor Tammy Kim brought the initiative to the Jan. 24 city council meeting, with the goal of uniting various startup-focused organizations in Orange County that can help founders jumpstart their entrepreneurial endeavors.
“The problem is we have a disparate ecosystem,” Kim told the Business Journal. “We have a lot of people doing lots of different things and no one knows what the other is doing.”
The city of Irvine will be providing locations for the tech week, whose participants include Laguna Beach-based Okapi Venture Capital; Irvine private capital firm Sunstone Management; Newport Beach developer Irvine Co.; Irvine-based wet lab, medtech incubator University Lab Partners; early-stage-company-focused organization OC Startup Council and the University of California, Irvine, according to Kim.
Irvine Tech Week “is an opportunity to solidify Irvine as truly a center of innovation,” said Kim, during the meeting. “We would be attracting super early stage [companies], maybe pre-seed startups or those that have an idea that want to explore but don’t really know what to do.”
Kim saw a lack of pre-seed and seeding activity in Irvine while she worked as an executive managing partner for talent acquisition and management solutions with consulting firm Zenith Partners International. Many of the projects she took on originated outside of Irvine, which concerned her about the long-term economic future of the city.
“I don’t know how we as a city, we’re going to be able to scale in the future,” she said. Support for very early-stage entrepreneurs is about “how do we prepare ourselves as a city for the next 50 years.”
According to Kim, tech weeks are a global endeavor, with similar events having taken place in over 1,800 cities and 160 countries across the globe. The city’s support “would help signal to the startup community that Irvine is ready to be a premier place for those looking to engage in the founder and creative community,” she said during the city council meeting.