Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan is making a push to bolster Irvine’s reputation as a tech hub.
“More than 900 tech companies call our city home and we are working to attract additional high-growth technology businesses,” Khan said.
That appeal was made clear with Amazon’s (Nasdaq: AMZN) decision to bring more than 800 corporate and tech jobs to Irvine over the next few years after inking a notable lease at the city’s Spectrum Terrace office development (see May 16 print edition of the Business Journal). Fellow tech titan Apple also signed a full-building lease at Irvine Co.’s Spectrum Terrace this year, sources tell the Business Journal.
Earlier this year, Khan launched an Innovation Council made up of industry leaders from a cross-section of government, education, and business sectors to “build upon Irvine’s position as a regional hub of innovation and technology,” she told the Business Journal via email.
Khan pointed to the growing list of tech, aerospace and life sciences companies in the city, ranging from OC giant Edwards Lifesciences Corp. (NYSE: EW) to electric vehicle startup Rivian Automotive Inc. (Nasdaq: RIVN) and satellite maker Iceye US, whose Finnish parent company was spun off from Aalto University‘s Radio Technology Department in 2014 and counts a mounting Irvine presence.
The list also includes TAE Technologies in Foothill Ranch, which has been considering an Irvine-area site for the next phase of the company’s plans to harness nearly limitless fusion power.
Commercial real estate brokerage firm JLL said tech and life sciences funding in the first quarter of the year totaled $746.7 million across Orange County.
That includes $300 million in a Series F funding round for Irvine-based fintech startup Acorns Grow Inc. and $22 million for logistics platform Zuum Technology, also in Irvine.
“Irvine is a true tech hub and has always been a city of innovation,” Khan said. “It continues to be a thriving, diverse center of business, especially when it comes to technology and life sciences.”
Khan wants to make sure future investments keep flowing into Irvine.
“With top tech talent living and working here, and local higher education institutions producing thousands of STEM graduates annually, we look forward to more businesses choosing to call Irvine home,” she said.
Khan pointed to “innovative technology solutions” provider GZ6G Technologies as a recent Irvine success story.
“Last year, the company chose Irvine for its regional west coast office so that it could leverage the diverse technology-based talent pool available in Irvine and the region,” the mayor said.
She was among attendees at the opening of the office on May 17.
Irvine is also home to a long list of video game companies ranging from established giant Blizzard Entertainment to startup Frost Giant Studios; telematics pioneers such as CalAmp Corp. (Nasdaq: CAMP); and an emerging cluster of cryptocurrencies companies including Marathon Digital Holdings (Nasdaq: MARA).
“Our strategic location, strong partnerships, and values of creativity and innovation set Irvine apart as an ideal place for businesses to call home,” Khan said. “The city provides, at a high-level, most everything that is of value to a business: opportunities, local high-skilled employees, public education support, safety, and top-quality infrastructure.”
Housing remains a sensitive subject for new tech recruits and other local workers.
It’s a headwind the city is seeking to address; Khan said Irvine counts 4,853 units of affordable housing with hundreds more underway.