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Editorials and Press Releases


The Center for Social Innovation at UC Riverside (CSI) and Blended Impact released its second joint effort, the 2021 IE Innovation Ecosystem Highlights, this week on

Last year, in April 2021, CSI partnered with Blended Impact on the region’s first comprehensive report on the Inland Empire innovation ecosystem. The report analyzed the history of innovation in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, key emerging industries, and included a comprehensive directory of innovation-focused initiatives and incubators/accelerators through 2020. The 2021 IE Innovation Ecosystem Highlights report is intended to continue the research with updated data through 2021.

Providing Actionable Data For The IE Ecosystem with Gary Rettberg of UCR Center For Social Innovation

CSI Research Manager, Gary Rettberg, was featured on The Startempire Wire Founder’s Podcast this week. They discussed Gary’s experience as a Research Manager, and also dove into the different data and narrative work surrounding the innovation ecosystem in the Inland Empire. Finally, they get into details about the newly published data supplement released in conjunction with Blended Impact.

2021 Inland Empire Innovation Highlights

The innovation ecosystem in the Inland Empire—whether measured by startup formation, acquisitions, investments, jobs, or research and development activities—has grown significantly in the past decade. This tremendous growth offers great promise for our region’s resilient and innovative communities, and continues to push back on the decades long narrative that the I.E. is a region of “cheap dirt”, where developable land is plentiful and highly-skilled labor is scarce. With an ever growing skilled workforce, numerous higher education institutions graduating thousands or bachelor’s and master’s degrees each year, and significant funding and investment gains, our region is poised to capitalize on this progress expanding and strengthening local partnerships, while also playing a much larger and significant role in the regional SoCal ecosystem.

Event honors Inland Empire entrepreneurs and innovators

On Thursday, the Inland Empire Innovation Ecosystem group hosted an awards ceremony honoring local entrepreneurs and innovators.

The award ceremony was called the ‘Homecoming for Innovators in the Inland Empire.’ “This event is part of a larger effort we’re doing in partnership with organizations like the UC Riverside Center for Social Innovation, the University of La Verne, and Blended Impact to highlight all the remarkable innovations and entrepreneurship in this region,” said University of La Verne President Devorah Lieberman.

Innovation Homecoming Screenshot-Gabe Maldonaldo Innovator of the Year

A First Ever Homecoming for Innovators in the Inland Empire

he Inland Empire is a fast-growing region that is teeming with innovation, and much of that innovation centers around the people who were born and raised in the region. Some of our innovators have made a name for themselves in the region, while many others have distinguished themselves in other parts of the state or across the country. 

What if we had an alumni reception for our innovators, not for any particular high school or university, but for the entire two-county region? 

IE Innovation Homecoming-Flyer

Southern California needs to go big on clean technology

Powerful innovations emerge when societies focus on tackling their thorniest problems. Our most recent, and dramatic, example has been Operation Warp Speed, which helped accelerate development of the Moderna vaccine and has given the United States a sizable global advantage with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic. Other examples of societies benefiting greatly from innovating their way out of chronic problems include Japan’s investments in robotics to address its shrinking workforce, and India’s development of low-cost generic drugs to serve a population that is still predominantly low-income.

Jobs for our post-pandemic future

Even as the American Jobs Plan, President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure bill remains mired in Congress, California is poised to pass a much smaller jobs package that nevertheless promises to be a game-changer. In his May Revise budget, Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed $750 million for a Community Economic Resilience Fund that will use federal funds under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to accelerate California’s post-pandemic recovery.

COVID-19 Downturn Worse than 2008, Workers without BAs Hit Hardest

The COVID-19 pandemic and the economic downturn it gave rise to drastically increased the number of unemployed Americans. In regions that already faced employment and income disparities, the impact has been even greater. The pandemic has shown a bright light on previous inequities, while at the same time deepening these gaps. Keeping in mind that this is an ever changing and evolving situation, we explore the current impact of COVID-19 on workers in the nation, state of California, and the Inland Empire. 

City of Coachella launches Opportunity Coachella!

The business attraction competition will accept applications from companies of any size seeking to launch, expand, or relocate to the City of Coachella and the adjacent unincorporated communities of Thermal, Mecca, and North Shore. The city has prioritized three categories of businesses in high demand, including clean technology/clean energy, recreation/lodging, and manufacturing/advanced manufacturing and will award incentives prizes of $5,000, $3,000, and $2,000, in addition to its existing business incentive packages, for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prize businesses chosen by a panel of judges. There will also be a $1,000 prize for Community Choice selected by open voting to the community.