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OC Insider: Powering Up

Caltech says it saw real results in its just-completed, year-long space solar power research mission, backed by Irvine Co. Chairman Donald Bren.

The Pasadena school a year ago launched its Space Solar Power Demonstrator into space to, in their words, “demonstrate and test three technological innovations that are among those necessary to make space solar power a reality.”

The tests “demonstrated the ability to beam power wirelessly in space; it measured the efficiency, durability, and function of a variety of different types of solar cells in space; and gave a real-world trial of the design of a lightweight deployable structure to deliver and hold the aforementioned solar cells and power transmitters,” the school announced last week.

The project was largely funded by Bren, who has long been interested in the potential for space-based solar energy manufacturing.

OC’s wealthiest resident has reportedly pledged contributions of over $100M to the school for its research into the issue. He’s described as a “life member of the Caltech community,” while his wife, Brigitte Bren­, is a trustee at the school.

“The hard work and dedication of the brilliant scien­tists at Caltech have advanced our dream of providing the world with abundant, reliable, and affordable power for the benefit of all humankind,” Donald Bren said in a statement.

“Solar power beamed from space at commercial rates, lighting the globe, is still a future prospect. But this critical mission demonstrated that it should be an achievable future,” Caltech President Thomas Rosenbaum said last week.

While Donald Bren, arguably the most influential business exec in OC’s history, helped make news in LA last week via his Caltech efforts, he hasn’t gotten as much local love of late.

Among the 10 inductees for the inaugural Orange County Hall of Fame ceremony announced earlier this month were a trio with real estate ties; Little Saigon developer Frank Jao, and both the late Henry Segerstrom and Gen. William Lyon. Walt Disney also made the cut, along with several athletes and musicians.

Bren wasn’t on the list, nor was Business Journal Publisher Richard Reisman. Hopefully the OC Board of Supervisors, which oversaw the selection process, is saving the two heavy hitters for next year.

An import ban of certain Apple Watch models is back on, following a Federal Circuit Court’s ruling last week to lift a temporary stay that had been in effect since late December.

The ruling reinstates the US International Trade Commission’s import ban and cease and desist order on Apple watches that were found to infringe Irvine-based Masimo’s (Nasdaq: MASI) pulse oximetry technology.

Following the multi-jurisdictional court maneuvers isn’t easy; the NY Times had to issue two corrections to a Jan. 17 story on the latest rulings.

Masimo CEO Joe Kiani applauded the recent decision. The Federal Circuit’s decision “is a victory for the integrity of the American patent system and the safety of people relying on pulse oximetry,” he said on Jan. 17.

The ruling “affirms that even the largest and most powerful companies must respect the intellectual rights of American inventors and must deal with the consequences when they are caught infringing others’ patents.”

Masimo shares are up about 5% over the past month; it has a market cap of $6.4B.

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Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung joined the Orange County Business Journal in 2021 as their Marketing Creative Director. In her role she creates all visual content as it relates to the marketing needs for the sales and events teams. Her responsibilities include the creation of marketing materials for six annual corporate events, weekly print advertisements, sales flyers in correspondence to the editorial calendar, social media graphics, PowerPoint presentation decks, e-blasts, and maintains the online presence for Orange County Business Journal’s corporate events.
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