It’s Monday night, the big game is on. Entrepreneurs, tech executives, angel investors and VCs have gathered at a Monday Night Football pitch party, swapping go-to-market tips and pitching best practices. A few blocks away, two engineers are in line at Starbucks waiting to order, standing behind an entrepreneur who just closed her Series A. No, this isn’t Silicon Valley. It’s Irvine, California– the next big startup hub.
With overhead costs skyrocketing in Silicon Valley and Los Angeles, startups and investors are searching for what’s next– and they’re finding it in Irvine. Anchored by University Research Park, and UC Irvine, Orange County’s booming tech corridor has long been home to industry leaders and cutting-edge companies including Amazon, Belkin, Blizzard, Broadcom, Cisco, Google, Intel, NextVR, Quantum, Toshiba, and Verizon.
Funding, exposure, collaboration and talent are what startups need most– and Irvine has all four in abundance. The city also offers something other tech hub’s can’t provide: a sought-after Coastal California lifestyle.
Funding. As the epicenter of Orange County’s technology scene, Irvine accounts for half of all its VC funding and a third of its tech-sector employment. VCs have invested more than $8.6 billion in Irvine-based startups since 2010, with more than than $2.8 billion going to companies located within a three-mile radius of University Research Park (URP). With abundant access to capital, it’s no surprise that big-name startups like cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike and healthcare billing software firm Kareo are eager to call Irvine home. The companies ranked first and second in third-quarter 2015 venture funding with $100 million and $55 million respectively, according to PitchBook, with Crowdstrike’s round led by Google Capital.
Exposure and collaboration. University Research Park is the epicenter of Irvine’s startup hub, home to UC Irvine’s The Cove and The Vine, seeded by Irvine Company. Together, they form a unique entrepreneurial ecosystem where collaboration is encouraged, innovation thrives, and serendipitous meetings lead to the next big thing. Home to incubators, accelerators, angel investors and venture capitalists all under one roof, The Cove is a unique microcosm of Irvine’s startup scene, serving as a one-stop destination for everything a startup needs to succeed. Just steps away, The Vine offers startup-friendly workspaces while supporting entrepreneurs through every stage of their business cycle with resources from Irvine Company’s partners in growth - ROC, and EvoNexus. When the time comes for larger office space, affordable options abound nearby, keeping startups close to their ever-expanding support network.
Talent. Unmatched access to UC Irvine’s talent pipeline means a highly skilled workforce for high-growth companies in Irvine. UCI, ranked first for universities less than 50 years old, has directly facilitated the creation of 26 startups over the past five years and more than 800 inventions. 40% of the school’s students are enrolled in STEM-programs.
“UCI’s proximity supplies a fountain of talent that can be leveraged for our company’s success,” says Garrett Ruhland, founder and CEO of Modern AlkaMe, a developer of cognitive enhancer supplements (nootropics) that signed on as one of the first tenants at The Vine, which offers startup-friendly workspace and resources alongside UC Irvine’s innovation hub The Cove at University Research Park.
Coastal California living. Irvine ranked as the most desirable place to live in the United States in 2016, offering a unique blend of sought-after suburban amenities in a walkable, bikeable planned community. With home prices averaging 20% less than Silicon Valley and rental costs 25% less, it’s easier for startups to attract and retain top talent. When founders do need to head to the Bay Area, John Wayne Airport is just minutes from Irvine and offers daily, nonstop services.
The Next Gen Workplace for the Next Gen Workforce. Everything that makes Irvine what’s next for the high-growth technology sector can be found within Irvine Company’s vibrant workplace communities along the Spectrum Skyline and at University Research Park. Beyond access to funding, talent, unique opportunities for exposure and collaboration, and the Coastal California lifestyle, these workplace communities offer contiguous workspace, so high-growth businesses can keep their teams together as they expand. By partnering with Irvine Company, larger organizations can even explore pre-development opportunities, including those ideal for building a custom campus for 5,000+ employees. Whatever your needs, the future of business is bright in the OC. Come be a part of what’s next.