Friday, December 28, 2007

UC Davis - Work begins on new ‘green’ MBA building

December 14, 2007
Work begins on new ‘green’ MBA building
By Claudia Morain

(Kendra Staggs/UC Davis)
Wielding golden shovels, prominent business leaders joined MBA students, faculty and alumni on Dec. 7 to break ground on a $34.5 million Graduate School of Management building and conference center complex at UC Davis.

The energy-efficient, environmentally responsible project will help boost the profile of the nationally ranked management school and serve as an important new venue for business and academic conferences when it opens in fall 2009. It will also help anchor the campus's emerging "front door" near Interstate 80.

The UC Davis Graduate School of Management building will be called Maurice J. Gallagher Jr. Hall, in honor of the Las Vegas airline executive who in October pledged $10 million to support the project and establish an endowment for the school. The adjoining conference center will include a restaurant and meeting facilities. The complex will also include a hotel, to be constructed separately.

The structures will be located across from the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, adjacent to the Buehler Alumni and Visitors Center, near the School of Law to the north and the soon-to-be-completed Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science to the west, and alongside a planned UC Davis Museum of Art.

"The Graduate School of Management is already recognized as one of the best business schools in the country. With the completion of this world-class facility, we will become even more attractive to top students and faculty," said Nicole Woolsey Biggart, the school's dean. "At the same time, the complex and its neighbors will serve as an important hub for the region's business and public policy interests, opening up tremendously exciting new opportunities to connect our MBA candidates to the entrepreneurs and community leaders who help drive the nation's sixth largest economy."

The new management school building, conference center and hotel will all be visible from I-80. With its easy-in, easy-out access from the freeway, the complex "will be a great regional asset and provide an attractive venue for the business community to get together on the university campus," said Barbara Hayes, executive director of the Sacramento Area Commerce and Trade Organization. "The new facility will also solidify the presence and reputation of the already renowned UC Davis Graduate School of Management."

The nationally ranked graduate school provides management education to more than 100 full-time MBA students on the Davis campus, as well as 184 students enrolled in the Sacramento Working Professional MBA Program in downtown Sacramento and 165 in the San Francisco Bay Area Working Professional MBA Program in San Ramon.

"The Graduate School of Management already is ranked among the best MBA programs in the country," Gallagher said in announcing his gift in October. "But to move into the elite tier, you have to have a world-class facility. I think the location, benefits and design of this new building, combined with the leadership of the faculty, will enable the school to jump up to that higher level over the next 10 to 15 years."

Gallagher Hall, at 40,000 square feet and three stories tall, will more than double the management school's current space on the UC Davis campus. The school today occupies about 15,500 square feet in a two-story building on the campus's northeastern edge.

The school's new stone, glass and stucco building will feature technologically advanced classrooms designed for interactive learning; expanded space for extracurricular activities; an upgraded and centralized student affairs and career services center for students to develop skills to advance their careers; and an outdoor garden and courtyard for informal gatherings and special events.

The adjoining 42,000-square-foot, two-story conference building will include a 7,500-square-foot restaurant, 14,000-square-foot conference center and ballroom. The second floor will offer 20,000 square feet of space for various university administrative units.

The Sacramento office of Sundt Cos. Inc. will serve as general contractor. Sasaki Associates Inc. of San Francisco is the architect.

Campus planners expect that both Gallagher Hall and the conference center will meet the Gold standard of Leadership in Environmental and Energy Design, or LEED, certification, which would make them among the "greenest" buildings in the University of California system.

Today, only four buildings in the ten-campus UC system have earned Gold-level or higher LEED certification, reflecting energy and water efficiency, sustainable siting and use of recycled, local and environmentally sustainable construction materials. (Those four include UC Davis' Tahoe Environmental Research Center at Incline Village, Nev., which has earned the highest-possible Platinum rating.)

The third element of the Davis campus's new Graduate School of Management complex, a 75-room hotel, will be built separately in partnership with University Hospitality Group, a private Davis-based hotelier.

The UC regents in May approved the $34.5 million project, with $31.5 million in campus financing and $3 million to come from gifts.

Up to half of the $10 million pledge from Gallagher and his wife, Marcia, will be used for enhancements, improvements, equipment and ongoing operational expenses that will supplement university financing for the new management school building. The balance of the gift will establish the Gallagher Fund endowment to provide for the highest priorities of the school, including faculty and student support and program expansion. The gift is the largest from an alumnus to the university.

UC Davis PLUGGING FOR PROGRESS: Scientists to study new plug-in hybrids

November 9, 2007
PLUGGING FOR PROGRESS: Scientists to study new plug-in hybrids
By Sylvia Wright

The latest green car is going under the UC Davis microscope — a hybrid sedan modified to recharge from a standard 110-volt electric outlet. It can travel as far as 20 miles on batteries before drinking a drop of gasoline, or get 100 miles per gallon in combined gasoline-electric mode.

Since three-fourths of drivers in the U.S. travel fewer than 40 miles a day, a car with that range on electricity alone should appeal to many people — and that is what UC Davis transportation experts will be testing with their new fleet of 10 "plug-in hybrids."

Beginning next spring, the 10 UC Davis cars — converted Toyota Priuses — will be loaned to 100 families in Northern California for six to eight weeks each. For two years, the drivers will be surveyed about their automobile preferences and attitudes before, during and after they use the cars. The UC Davis analysis of their experiences will constitute the first comprehensive consumer report on plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.

"What we have seen is that, as consumers become more aware of hybrids, the cars are going beyond the innovators to the core market. The Prius is now the best-selling sedan in the San Francisco Bay Area and one of the most popular cars in California," said Tom Turrentine, a research anthropologist at the UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies who directs the university's new Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle Research Center.

Plug-in hybrids, however, are still virtually unknown to consumers. There are fewer than 100 plug-in hybrids in the U.S. today. All are cars that were converted by their owners, since there are no commercially produced plug-ins for sale yet.

With so few on the road, little is known about how consumers will use them. Policymakers, energy suppliers and automakers are asking UC Davis to fill in some of the blanks.

"We know that existing hybrids offer environmental benefits and some savings on fuel costs," said Turrentine. "Plug-in hybrids offer improvements of those benefits, plus the ability to recharge at home and choice of fuel alternatives. It's your choice every day — you can choose to use electricity or you can choose to use gasoline."

What is the difference between a conventional hybrid and a plug-in?

Hybrids are powered by a combination of electricity and gasoline, but are never plugged in. The electricity they use is generated "on board" when the driver steps on the brakes. Plug-in hybrids have bigger batteries to store more electricity, and can be plugged into the electricity grid for recharging. Designs vary, but some plug-in hybrids can operate on electricity alone for distances as long as 40 miles.

Plug-ins are less expensive to run, at about 2.7 cents per mile in electric-only mode, compared with 7 cents per mile for a conventional hybrid (and 10 cents per mile for an average gasoline-only car).

Moreover, while driving a hybrid reduces one's consumption of fossil fuel for transportation, driving a plug-in hybrid reduces it even more, by using less gasoline or diesel and more electricity. In states like California, where 45 percent of power comes from nuclear power and renewable sources such as hydro and wind, fueling vehicles with electricity is far cleaner than using oil.

The UC Davis Plug-in Hybrid Center was established in January with $3 million in funding from the California Energy Commission's Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program. The new consumer-attitude research project is supported with $1.8 million from the California Air Resources Board.

Two other key partners in the Plug-in Hybrid Center are Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and the American Automobile Association of Northern California.

PG&E is one of the members of the center's Advisory Council, which guides its research agenda; the energy supplier for much of Northern and Central California hopes to gain an understanding of the potential impact of plug-in hybrid vehicles on California's electricity grid.

AAA of Northern California has a Greenlight Initiative to help educate customers on alternative fuels and vehicles. It will provide roadside assistance and insurance coverage for the plug-in hybrids, and many study families will be chosen from the AAA membership rolls.

"We have not identified the survey drivers yet," said Turrentine. "We will take a scientific sample of the marketplace — people who represent typical new-car buyers and have secure garages where they will recharge the cars."

Other center partners include California utilities (including Sacramento Municipal Utility District, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric); California government agencies (including the South Coast Air Quality Management District and the California Air Resources Board); Automakers (including Nissan, Daimler and Ford); Electric Power Research Institute; and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Sutter Solano Wins Award For Greatest Improvement

Sutter Solano Wins Award For Greatest Improvement

Sutter Solano Medical Center was named a 2007 Press Ganey Compass Award Winner, it was announced Thursday.

The hospital was recognized in the Emergency Department award category for the greatest improvement in overall patient satisfaction scores compared to all other facilities being measured.

Sutter Solano is one of three facilities in its class - emergency departments under 30,000 annual visits - to receive the honor.

Kim Trumbull, R.N., the facility's chief nurse executive, said improvements to patients' perception of care resulted from several programs implemented over the past two years. These include a FasTrac program to quickly triage and care for nonemergency patients, a committee focusing on bedside registration and immediate bedding to reduce wait times, phone calls by charge and triage nurses and physicians as a follow-up to discharged patients and calls by charge nurses checking in on patients and family members, as well as calls to inform them of any delays.

The Compass Award recognizes facilities showing the most improvement over two years in overall patient satisfaction.

Some Forecasters Predict Financial Improvement in 2008

Some Forecasters Predict Financial Improvement in 2008
By RACHEL RASKIN-ZRIHEN/Times-Herald staff writer
Article Launched: 12/28/2007 08:09:40 AM PST

Despite 2007 having been one of the worst real estate years in recent memory, some economic forecasters predict improvement in the local financial landscape in 2008.

"Over the next couple of years, the Vallejo area will have one of the largest rates of income growth in Northern California, second only to San Jose," said University of the Pacific's business school's dean, Chuck Williams. "We're predicting a 5.7 percent income growth rate for your area."

Most of the income growth will be among business professionals in the education and health sectors, and in transportation and utilities, he said.

The Vallejo area's wage level ranks seventh of Northern California's 11 Metropolitan Statistical Areas, and eighth in terms of income level, but is "growing very fast," Williams said.

The Solano area ranks fourth for employment growth and eighth in population growth, he added.

"It's a good sign," Williams said.

Though new home construction continued to fall in Solano County and statewide in 2007, the drop locally was less steep than in some other areas, according to California Building Industry Association data. And Williams said he predicts increased housing starts in the next two years which could be good news if exiting inventory decreases, he said.

"We predict the Vallejo area will have the third biggest growth in housing starts, with a 25.8 percent increase between 2008 and 2010," he said. "We will eventually dig ourselves out of this housing mess."

Even if these predictions materialize, they don't address falling real estate values, but even these can be positive, Williams said.

"It's an opportunity for developers to buy land at lower costs, and the savings passed on to buyers," he said.

Though severely impacted by the national subprime mortgage crisis, the Vallejo area's real estate market may begin to turn around next year, said Solano Association of Realtors president Jeff Dennis.

"Economists are sending mixed messages, but I expect continued high inventory for the first part of the year, keeping prices from going up," Dennis said. "But I expect a moderate increase in transactions by the middle of '08."

Dennis said he doesn't see a full recovery until 2009 and not without federal help. The kind of federal help Alan Schwartzman of Benicia's Advanced Mortgage Services says has already begun.

Congress extended the mortgage insurance deductibility and eliminated the taxability of proceeds from the sale of homes that sold for less than what's owed," eliminating the double or triple whammy," such transactions had meant to sellers, he said.

"If Congress can make FHA reforms to stem foreclosures and help more Californians qualify for federally insured mortgages, this will slow the downturn," Schwartzman said.

There likely will be fewer real estate and mortgage lending businesses in Solano County next year, but those that survive will be stronger, Schwartzman said. And if history is any indication, those in real estate for the long term should be OK, Dennis said.

"In the past, whenever prices have done down, they eventually come back up," Dennis said.

E-mail Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at or call 553-6824.

Grocery Outlet Welcomes Shoppers For Grand Opening Jan. 5

Grocery Outlet Welcomes Shoppers For Grand Opening Jan. 5
By Ines Bebea | Daily Republic | December 27, 2007 15:49

Angela Martinez, left, of Suisun City, and her daughter, Sydny, 8, shop at the new Grocery Outlet store in Fairfield Thursday morning. Photo by Brad Zweerink

FAIRFIELD - Grocery Outlet's grand opening will leave shoppers grilling.

For its official celebration on Saturday, Jan. 5, the first 100 shoppers will walk away with a free George Foreman Grill. Other prizes will be given out throughout the day, in addition to food and beverage samples.

The celebration marks an end to the Berkeley-based company's three-year search for a Fairfield location. Earlier in the year, Grocery Outlet, Inc. announced plans to open a store in Fairfield after 24 Hour Fitness vacated its space on North Texas Street and Travis Boulevard.

'We've had stores in Vacaville and Vallejo and we are excited to be finally be in Fairfield,' said Jon Wylie, a Grocery Outlet spokesman. 'We thought the opening would be better after the holidays because shoppers would be busy with their holiday preparations.'

Grocery Outlet purchased the 33,590-square-foot building, but it only plans to use 24,000 feet. The Fairfield Police Activities League and city leaders have been in talks with Grocery Outlet to convert the remaining space into a teen center.

'The Fairfield store was a long time coming, but the key was finding the right location,' said Tarek Salma, who owns and manages the store.

For shoppers such as Laurie Hopkins, Grocery Outlet is a dream come true. The Fairfield woman did most of her shopping at the Grocery Outlet store in Vacaville. On Thursday, she was excited to be shopping less than a mile from her home.

'I drove to Vacaville because I felt the savings were worth it, although it required extra time to shop there,' Hopkins said. 'It was a store where I went for many of my canned goods, and I'm glad to see that this store has an extensive dairy selection and deli items.'

Thursday was Bhupinder Brar's first time at a Grocery Outlet store. Affordable prices coupled with the variety of produce and food items quickly warmed her feelings toward the store.

'I really wasn't looking to buy a lot of things today. I basically wanted to see what they had,' Brar said. 'It's really close to my house, and it's going to save a lot of time.'

Reach Ines Bebea at 427-6934 or

What: Grocery Outlet's grand opening
When: 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Jan. 5, 2008
Where: 200 Travis Blvd., Fairfield
Info: 428-9721

Thursday, December 27, 2007

North Bay labor force shows growth

Article published - Dec 21, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: North Bay labor force shows growth
NORTH BAY, Dec. 21, 2007 – The North Bay showed growth in its labor force numbers year over year, according to data released by the state Economic Development Department today. Napa County had 1,100 more jobs in November 2007 than the same month last year, Marin County showed an increase of 1,000 jobs and Sonoma County's work force grew by 400.

While the number of jobs has increased, the unemployment rate, a measure of the number of people actively seeking jobs, has actually risen in all three counties.

In Sonoma County the unemployment rate was 4.5 percent in November, up from 3.8 percent last year. The trade, transportation and utilities sector showed the highest growth with 900 new jobs, with construction right behind adding 800 jobs.

Slightly higher than Sonoma was Napa County with a rate of 4.7 percent, up from 3.9 percent in November of 2006. The professional and business services sector led the county's gains with 500 new jobs.

Showing the smallest of the North Bay's increases in unemployment, Marin County had a rate of 3.8 percent, up from 3.4 percent in the same period last year. Industry specific numbers are not available for Marin.

The state's unadjusted rate was 5.6 percent, and the nation's rate for the same period was 4.5 percent.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Biotech Expansion Expected in County

Biotech Expansion Expected in County
The Reporter, Vacaville

Solano County is positioned to serve as the hub for Northern California's expanding biotech industry - expected to double in the next 10 years.

That was the message delivered recently to local business and government leaders by Michael Ammann, president of Solano Economic Development Corp.

At a summit of local leaders, Ammann said Solano cities already are key biotech players, but could see that role expand tremendously in coming years.

"Is Solano ready to double?" Ammann asked. "It has all the potential to double an already successful posture."

Ammann said Northern California has 900 biotech sector companies. Some 120 are publicly owned, employing 90,000, with a $6 billion annual payroll. The average wage is $68,000.

Currently there are 393 marketed products, and 400 new products in Phase II and III clinical trials.

The region has four major life science research universities with more than a half billion dollars in research funding.

"And all that is expected to double in the next 10 years," Ammann said.

Solano County is centrally located to serve this expanding industrial sector, he added.

Currently, Genentech, Alza and Novartis have major facilities in Vacaville, and Benicia is home to Bio-Rad. Vallejo will soon see Siemens on Mare Island, and Genentech will build a major research and development facility in Dixon.

Ammann expects that with biotech's expansion, other sectors also will expand. Food and beverage, for example, benefit from the R&D in the life sciences. Currently, with Mariani Foods, Clorox, Budweiser, St. Gobain, Cyto Sports Drinks, Abbott Labs and JG Guittard, Solano County is a growing location in this economic sector.

"We are a regional hub of opportunity and innovation, built on growth in energy, food/beverage and life sciences," Ammann said. "We can create a strong diversified economy based on the needs of a growing regional population who must find a way to turn on the lights, eat and stay healthy."

Vacaville Expends Energy To Save It

Vacaville Expends Energy To Save It
By Ian Thompson | DAILY REPUBLIC

VACAVILLE - Efforts to put more alternative fuel vehicles on the road, increase the amount of solar energy generated and recycle more trash have made 2007 a green year for Vacaville.

The coming year is expected to be even greener, according to city leaders.

Vacaville will continue promoting incentives to buy alternative fuel cars, putting solar panels on city facilities such as the police department headquarters and encouraging local businesses to do the same.

These efforts 'are a cost savings and not just to protect the environment,' City Manager David Van Kirk said.

Vacaville reached the 3-megawatt mark for solar power production early this month when the ALZA Corp. started up its 1-megawatt solar facility.

ALZA's array of nearly 5,800 solar panels, located on 6 acres next to the plant, now generate about a third of the facility's energy needs.

Solar panels have been installed atop City Hall and at the Bella Vista Park and Ride Lot, which is used to provide electricity for a nearby electric vehicle charging station.

'We are looking at the possibility of a solar field in the area of the Easterly wastewater treatment plant,' Van Kirk said.

In the private sector, the Meritage Homes developer is building energy-efficient homes that it contends will save homeowners as much as 70 percent on their energy bills through solar panels and other energy conservation technology.

Businesses such as Creekside Orthodontics, Kohl's, Staples and the State Compensation Insurance Fund have taken out permits to install solar arrays.

Vacaville presently leads the nation for municipalities that use alternative fuel cars in its fleet, according to Edward Huestis, who runs the city's solar and alternative fuel car programs.

The city's alternative fuel vehicle fleet has 25 electric cars and several Honda natural gas vehicles. City Coach has five buses that run on natural gas, and there are plans to convert the entire fleet within two years.

'That's how we got the nickname of Voltageville,' Huestis quipped.

Vacaville's reputation has drawn the attention of the Los Angeles-based electric car manufacturer Miles Electric Vehicles, which is looking into setting up shop in Vacaville, Huestis said.

The electric fleet is fueled from energy generated by solar panels, so 'we don't have any electric costs there and any excess power is used to lower the utility bills at City Hall,' Huestis said.

A variety of incentives are offered to residents who drive natural gas vehicles with the goal to have at least 100 of those vehicles on the road by 2008.

'I want to shoot right through that in the first quarter of 2008' said Huestis, who plans to see 150 alternative fuel cars in town by summer.

Huestis takes pride in keeping Vacaville on the cutting edge of alternative fuel cars. 'We are doing what we can to clean our air,' he said. 'We are just trying to do our part and not just doing business as usual.'

The city's refuse recycling program boosted the amount of recycled materials by 40 percent in 2007 after the city replaced small yellow bins with the much larger blue toters, according to Kari Holmes, who leads the city's recycling program.

'That allowed us to implement the single-stream recycling,' Holmes said.

The large toters have encouraged residents to recycle more because they can simply put all their recyclables in one toter rather than having to sort them out into different bins.

'They appreciate the larger size. It lessens the amount of materials that will go into our landfill by providing an easy, user-friendly way to recycle,' Holmes said.

Recycling efforts allowed Vacaville to meet its 56 percent diversion goal for 2005, and Holmes said she will know whether the city met the goal for 2006 when figures come back in February.

Holmes plans to continue to fine-tune recycling programs in 2008. That will include the city's first pharmaceutical turn-in event to be held on Jan. 26. Residents can turn in unneeded and expired prescriptions at the police department.

'If it goes well, we are hoping to do it on a quarterly basis,' Holmes said.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or

Suisun Valley Grape Growers Savor 25 Years of Quality

Suisun Valley Grape Growers Savor 25 Years of Quality
By Joe Giovannetti | Daily Republic | December 25, 2007 19:12

Ron Lanza, left, with Wooden Valley Winery and the Suisun Valley Grape Growers Association and Roger King, president of the SVGGA, stand next to a field of grape vines on Susiun Valley Road. The SVGGA is celebrating the 25th anniversary of Suisun Valley's designation as an American Viticultural Area. Photo by Brad Zweerink

FAIRFIELD - Vintage Caffe is a short walk from the tasting rooms of Suisun Valley's wineries and stocks bottles of the local product.

According to Roger King, president of the Suisun Valley Grape Growers Association, Vintage Caffe sells a variety of brands, including King Andrews, Sunset Cellars, Wooden Valley, Ledgewood Creek, Koch, Olabisi, Vezer and Forlorn Hope.

But sit down at many of Fairfield's other dining establishments and you won't find a bottle, glass or even a drop of those Suisun Valley wines.

On Thursday, the SVGGA kicks off its year-long celebration of the 25th anniversary of Suisun Valley's designation of an American Viticultural Area. An AVA is significant to grape growers because it justifies the unique geographic pedigree of the wine.

Current requirements for an area to be designated as its own AVA include evidence that growing conditions such as climate, soil, elevation and physical features are distinctive from other areas. The evidence is based on scientific data gathered over the course of several years.

'The 25th anniversary is a major milestone,' said King, who has been SVGGA president since the association's inception five years ago. 'It shows longevity. It allows us to put some history behind it for an environment (Suisun Valley) that wasn't well known. History is important in relationship to how you're perceived in the industry.'

But even after 25 years with the AVA designation, the SVGGA says that Suisun Valley doesn't receive the same recognition as other AVA areas in the more famous wine-producing region of Napa County. This greatly affects grape growers, many of whom make a living or at least additional income from selling grapes to wineries that bottle and sell the product.

'When we approach the buying market, going to Sonoma or Napa wineries, they don't perceive that we're even in the north coast region,' King said. 'By using the anniversary to push ourselves forward, not just celebrating 25 years, we're using it as a tool to define a market presence. We're not Napa Valley and we don't want to be Napa Valley. We want to be Suisun Valley. We want to stand on our own merit.'

The SVGGA hopes the AVA silver anniversary will remind potential buyers in Northern California and across the country of the quality and history of Suisun Valley's grapes.

King said Suisun Valley has established more of a national presence in recent years by selling grapes to bottlers across the country, but only after the SVGGA decided to send representatives to conventions on the East Coast.

Locally, the SVGGA is hosting wine tastings this weekend to promote its product and is pushing to get wine made from Suisun Valley grapes into nearby dining establishments.

'We want better awareness of the local communities of our product,' King said.'We want to bring more people from Fairfield and Solano County into an awareness of the product we have out here.'

Reach Joe Giovannetti at 427-6935 or

At a glance

The Suisun Valley Grape Growers Association is hosting a celebratory weekend at four Suisun Valley wineries in honor of Suisun Valley's 25th anniversary of its designation as an American Viticultural Area. The SVGGA is offering premium wine and specialty food tastings as well as barrel tasting and vertical wine tasting by select vintners. Those who attend will be offered a complimentary logo wine glass at each location.

When: Noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 29 and Sunday, Dec. 30

Where: Ledgewood Creek Winery, 4589 Abernathy Rd.; Suisun Valley Wine Cooperative, 4495 Suisun Valley Rd.; Vezer Family Vineyard Tasting Room, 5066 Clayton Rd.; Wooden Valley Winery, 4756 Suisun Valley Rd.

Fee: The tastings at Ledgewood Creek, Suisun Valley Wine Cooperative and Wooden Valley are complimentary. Vezer charges a $10 fee.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Genentech working to license second Vacaville cell-culture plant

East Bay Business Times - December 24, 2007

Business News - Local News
Friday, December 21, 2007

Genentech working to license second Vacaville cell-culture plant
East Bay Business Times - by Jessica Saunders
Courtesy file photo by Andrew McKinney

Genentech’s Vacaville cell-culture plant underwent a $600 million expansion and is the world’s largest facility of its kind.
View Larger

Genentech is preparing to seek federal licensing for its second cell-culture plant in Vacaville now that construction is completed.

The biotech giant is testing and validating the 380,000-square-foot Cell Culture Plant 2 (CCP2), which paired with the existing CCP1 will form the world's largest cell-culture biotechnology manufacturing plant, according to company research. The validation process verifies systems were designed, built and will operate per specification.

After the 12-month testing and validation process, Genentech will begin producing qualification batches of drugs and apply to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for an operating license. The FDA process, which includes an inspection, takes about 15 months, a company spokeswoman said.

The company said it expects to receive the license in the third quarter of 2009.

The $600 million expansion of the original 427,000-square-foot plant doubles Genentech's production capacity to 344,000 liters. The plant will create bulk liquid drugs such as Herceptin, Avastin and Rituxan, as well as future drugs.

The general contractor for the expansion, DPR Construction Inc. of Redwood City, reached substantial completion and a temporary certificate of occupancy on June 14, two weeks ahead of the contractual completion date. Substantial completion means the building could be used for its intended purpose, said George Pfeffer, DPR project director and Bay Area regional manager.

In addition to building CCP2, DPR expanded the existing warehouse and doubled the size of the central utility plant. The project required 1,200 craftspeople to work more than 3 million hours over 16 months, while not interfering with production at CCP1.

The work site was extremely congested with more than 1,000 workers confined in 400,070 square feet, making safety a paramount concern, Pfeffer said. Training, daily communication and zero-tolerance policies kept the injury rate at the site to 1.7 per 200,000 hours worked, compared to the industry standard 6.2, he said.

"We drove safety into daily habits of people, in that it was not someone else's job to watch (for it)," said Pfeffer.

Adding to the complicated logistics, DPR agreed that Genentech could take control of finished portions of the plant while 70 percent of construction work was incomplete. Normally, the overlap is 10 percent to 20 percent, Pfeffer said, but it was necessary to compress the construction timeline. DPR began turning over systems to Genentech in September 2006.

"A lot of people in the industry thought we were crazy for taking this on - it was too risky. They thought it couldn't be done in the time frame," he said.

DPR has worked with Genentech for 10 years, including five to six projects in Vacaville and about 20 in South San Francisco, where Genentech is based. | 925-598-1427

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Solano water program helps businesses save resources, money

Friday, December 21, 2007
Solano water program helps businesses save resources, money
East Bay Business Times - by Marie-Anne Hogarth

The Solano County Water Agency is piloting a program that could save the area a lot of precious water resources and local businesses money.

The agency last fall started providing computerized irrigation controllers made by HydroPoint Data Systems Inc. of Petaluma to apartment buildings, corporate office sites and strip malls with large landscaped areas.

"We haven't really gotten a full set of data yet, but the preliminary data we are getting shows that the controllers are working and that they are saving water and money," said Andrew Florendo, water resource specialist for the Solano County Water Agency.

The agency, which only invited selected big water users to be part of the program, is considering opening it next year to more businesses.

When it does that, Florendo said, the agency will also solicit a request for proposals from companies with similar technologies.

HydroPoint's WeatherTrak is a software package that pulls satellite data from 17,000 weather stations around the country to adjust moisture levels and irrigate more efficiently.

It takes into account what kind of plants are being watered, the soil, the slope of the land, the sun, the shade and other green thumb know-how, to avoid over-watering.

"It is essentially good horticulture in a computer chip," said Tom Ash, director of conservation for HydroPoint.

According to Ash, most businesses can expect a 25 percent to 50 percent savings on their water bills with the technology, plus less runoff to parking lots, less water damage to buildings and fewer mold issues.

The program saved Westfield Solano mall in Fairfield 807,000 gallons over a 60-day billing cycle, a significant savings in energy use and water. Others enrolled in Solano County's effort include Kohl's in Vallejo, Winery Square shopping center in Fairfield, and Creekside Shopping Center and Lowe's in Vacaville.

Water for urban landscaping comprises approximately one-third of urban water use, or 3 million acre-feet of water annually. Water runoff also pollutes streams, rivers and the Bay.

Starting in 2012, the state of California will mandate - as part of Assembly Bill 1881 - that irrigation controllers meet certain water-efficiency standards.

Solano County Water Agency has spent $38,560 to date to purchase the controllers and is expecting installation costs to be $16,270, for a total program cost of $54,830. The U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Reclamation provided a $15,000 grant to the agency to run the program. | 925-598-1432

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Bay Area's population growth rate outpaced the state last year

Santa Clara County, S.F. lead Bay Area in population growth
Matthew Yi, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Bay Area's population growth rate outpaced the state last year as the nine-county region, led by San Francisco and Santa Clara County, added nearly 90,000 new residents, according to the Department of Finance's latest data released Wednesday.

Santa Clara County saw the area's biggest gain, attracting 29,904 new residents for a 1.67 percent increase from the previous year for a population of 1.8 million as of July 1. San Francisco was second, growing by 1.4 percent to 11,327 and bringing its population to 817,537. Contra Costa County was third with 13,189 new residents, or a growth rate of 1.28 percent. It now has 1.04 million residents.

to read the rest of the article check out the San Francisco Chronicle

E-mail Matthew Yi at

Solano County Grows Slightly

Solano County Grows Slightly
By SARA STROUD/Times-Herald staff writer
Article Launched: 12/20/2007 08:11:48 AM PST

Following a pattern seen in almost every other California county, Solano County's population increased slightly last year, according to a statewide demographic report released Wednesday.

But unlike most counties, Solano saw more people leave the county than move in, according to the report, which was released by the State Department of Finance.

Taking into account births, deaths, immigration and domestic migration, Solano County's population grew by 2,155 people - or .5 percent - from July 2006 to July 2007, for a total of 423,970 residents.

"The value of these studies is to show trends," Solano Association of Realtors president Jeff Dennis said of the report, which revealed that about 1,100 more people moved away from the county than to it.

State senior demographer Linda Gage said that in the eight counties statewide that saw more out-migration than in-migration, economic factors were often involved, including housing costs.

Dennis said he attributed the mini-exodus in part to a general housing market decline, coupled with the recent subprime mortgage crisis.

"We're the most affordable county in the Bay Area and the lower end of the spectrum has been impacted," Dennis said of the housing downturn. "The starter home market has been hurt by people's inability to finance."

Solano County Economic Development Corporation president Michael Ammann said he thought the numbers reflect a slight fluctuation in an long-term upward trend.

"I'm more concerned with birth numbers," Ammann said, adding that as long as Solano County is "internally generating growth," it's in good shape.

Napa County saw a one percent total population climb, with an increase in both domestic and international newcomers.

Plan To Move CHP Scales Makes Progress

Plan To Move CHP Scales Makes Progress
By Barry Eberling | DAILY REPUBLIC | December 19, 2007 14:51

FAIRFIELD - Solano County's quest to renovate the eastbound California Highway Patrol truck scales along Interstate 80 took another step forward this morning.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission included the scales among it priority regional trade corridor projects. That put the project in position to compete for state bond money to be awarded by the California Transportation Commission, perhaps next spring.

The proposed truck scales renovation project could cost $99 million, with $38 million coming from the bonds. The STA wants to move the scales a short distance from their location near Cordelia, make them bigger and improve the ramps leading to and from the freeway.

Among the selling points: Improved trucks scales would help ease the evening rush-hour traffic snarl on I-80 and give the CHP a modern facility where it can make certain that trucks on the road are safe.

Read more in the Daily Republic or at

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

U.S. Department of Energy has awarded UC Davis a grant of up to $768,000 over three years


The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded a grant of up to $768,000 over three years to Adam Moule, assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science at UC Davis, for work toward cheaper, more efficient solar cells.

The award is part of a $21 million package of grants announced by the federal agency on Nov. 8. Part of the Solar America Initiative, the funds are directed at a "new generation" of solar power devices that could be developed into a prototype by 2015.

Current technology for photovoltaic cells is close to its maximum efficiency, Moule said, but remains more expensive per unit power output than other energy sources. The aim of new technologies is to get the same power for lower costs.

Moule is studying ways to assemble thin layers of organic polymers -- essentially, plastics -- into a flexible panel, similar to a laminated poster.

Polymers that generate electricity from sunlight are available, but they have to be dissolved in a solvent to be sprayed or printed onto a surface. Adding a second layer involves dissolving more of the polymer in the same solvent -- which would affect the first layer.

Moule is developing a method to deposit a series of very thin layers using a temporary, removable protective layer. He will also use computer modeling to study the effect of adding multiple thin layers to the device. If the technique is successful, Moule expects to produce simple two-layer devices within 18 months to two years.

Media contact(s):
* Adam Moule, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, (530) 754-8669,
* Andy Fell, UC Davis News Service, (530) 752-4533,

City Planners Peruse Southtown Revision

City Planners Peruse Southtown Revision
By Jennifer Gentile/Staff Writer

Most planning commissioners found something to like Tuesday night in a revised plan for phase two of a Vacaville housing development, but at least some remained concerned about issues raised by city staff.

Developer D.R. Horton had submitted the revised plan in September for phase two of Southtown, which encompasses 48 acres along Vanden Road. The new concept calls for 201 single-family lots "in small lot and wide shallow lot configurations," according to a report by city staff, whereas a cluster-style arrangement was proposed before.

The entire Southtown development area encompasses 280 acres and will include an estimated 1,200 to 1,400 single- and multi-family homes. Phase one is already under way, with more than 80 homes reportedly under construction to date.

According to staff, the new concept seems to diverge from what was intended when Southtown was approved in 2004. The original plan featured several housing types and densities tied in to an open-space trail system.

"The record for the Southtown approval," according to staff's report, "indicates that the area was envisioned to provide variations in product design that would result in distinct neighborhood villages with a range of housing opportunities."

Staff explained that the developer would need exceptions to the General Plan, zoning rules and development standards for the project to move forward.

The project architect and engineer, as well as a D.R. Horton representative, supported the project from the podium. Vince Fletcher, director of land acquisition for the developer, said D.R. Horton is "giving the buyer something they want."

"I think the product we're proposing is far superior to the cluster product we had before," he said.

Tuesday's meeting was the commission's opportunity to review and comment, and most commissioners liked at least some aspects of the proposal.

"What they've proposed are smaller, more attainable homes, so it seemed like a good idea to me," said Commissioner Dan Broadwater.

Commissioner Joe Niccoli said, "If it were me, as a consumer, I like the product they were proposing tonight versus what was proposed before," he said, adding, "I think it is a superior product and more visually appealing than cluster."

However, he said, "but we still need to deal with the issues that staff has raised," One of the unresolved issues for him was side-yard setbacks.

The proposal did not seem to have enough diversity to suit Commissioner Shannon Nadasdy.

"I really just like variation in design," she said. "You can appeal to a broader cross-set of our community."

After Tuesday night's study session, it is the City Council's turn to consider the proposal. A date has not been set for that discussion.

Jennifer Gentile can be reached at

Sutter Regional Completes Massive Move

Sutter Regional Completes Massive Move
Foundation's Plan To Centralize Services Now a Reality
By Ines Bebea | December 18, 2007 16:22

Sutter Regional Medical Foundation is putting the finishing touches on the new building at their $75 million Fairfield Medical Campus. Photo by Brad ZweerinkDaily Republic

FAIRFIELD - Sutter Regional Medical Foundation has added the final pieces to its $75 million Fairfield Medical Campus. With Phase III of its 11-acre site on Busch Corporate Center completed, the foundation's aggressive plan to centralize its services is a reality.

But the challenge for the foundation, as for any business changing locations, was how to make the transition without jeopardizing patient care. To make the move from its 40,000-square-foot building at 1234 Empire Street, the foundation embarked on an ambitious plan to move 130 employees, equipment and medical records without missing a beat.

First, in early November, patients received letters in English and Spanish informing them of the move. Second, medical and administrative services and equipment were moved in stages to Sutter's new building at 2720 Low Court. Third, it prepared staff at its care centers and offices in Fairfield and Vacaville to treat the dispersed patients seeking medical treatment.

And finally, with the lease on Empire Street expiring Dec. 31, the administration was eager to move before the Christmas holiday. The final move was made from Nov. 29 to Dec. 2.

'We knew that our lease was expiring in December, and we began preparing for that future in 2004,' said John Ray, chief executive officer of Sutter Regional Medical Foundation. 'We were at the downtown location since it was built in 1984. It gave us a chance to plan and invest in our expansion ahead of time.'

The new three-story, 69,000-square-foot building, which opened on Dec. 3, joins the Diagnostic Imaging and Ambulatory Center, and the After Hours Care Clinic that opened earlier in the year. Construction for the medical campus began in summer 2006 and was completed last month.

The obstetrics and gynecology, ophthalmology, optometry and urology departments were moved in October to one of the first buildings. Cardiology, internal medicine, oncology, family practices, laboratory services medical records and administration followed in November.

'What this facility gives us are the capabilities and starting point to bring our services into the 21st century,' said Samuel Santoro, president of the Solano Regional Medical Group and an obstetrics and gynecology physician. 'It has the IT capabilities to support electronic medical records, and it is designed to make the experience very patient-oriented.'

Although the move was prompted by the need for more space and the expiring lease at Empire Street, it was also tied to the foundation's desire to own the buildings its medical offices occupy.

'Renewing the lease was never part of the equation,' Ray said. 'The idea behind the campus was to make the medical experience unique for our patients. It is part of what we envisioned and what we needed to do to meet our growing needs.'

The vacant Empire Street building is now available for lease or sale by NAIBT Commercial. It has already generated some interest. Rich Fenske, an NAIBT Commercial representative, said there is a possibility of two large tenants occupying the building.

'Some of the interest is from parties that want to lease and others that are interested in buying and renovating the building,' Fenske said. 'Our preference is a medical tenant that can use the existing layout of the building. But we are open to considering tenants who need at least 20,000 square feet in the building.'

With the Fairfield campus now in the past, the foundation is setting its sights on the other facilities in the county. Last summer, it opened a 12,000-square-foot care center in Vallejo and is interested in owning property in Vacaville to expand its offices there. Plans for its additional 12 acres in Busch Corporate Center have not been finalized.

Reach Ines Bebea at 427-6934 or

Construction begins on new UC Davis management school

Friday, December 7, 2007
Construction begins on new UC Davis management school
Conference center and school will be part of new entrance to campus
Sacramento Business Journal - by Mark Anderson Staff writer

Construction starts today for the University of California Davis' newest buildings, the $34.5 million Maurice J. Gallagher Hall -- the new home of the Graduate School of Management -- and a neighboring conference center.

The project has been delayed for years but is now ahead of schedule. When the development went out to bid in July, the groundbreaking was scheduled for February 2008. It's starting two months early.

Helping push the construction is the strength of fundraising efforts. The school's naming rights were secured by a $10 million gift by UC Davis alumnus Gallagher, who earned a bachelor's degree in history from Davis in 1971. He went on to earn a master's in business administration from UC Berkeley three years later. Gallagher is chief executive of Allegiant Travel Co. (Nasdaq: ALGT).

The new graduate school building will be three stories and 40,000 square feet. The building and the conference center are expected to open in fall 2009. A $12 million, 75-room Hyatt Place hotel will start construction nearby in April, said John Yates, director of real estate services for the campus.

Gallagher Hall is at the entrance to the university from Interstate 80, which "gives us visibility we do not have right now," said Nicole Woolsey Biggart, dean of the Graduate School of Management.

"We are a very good, very small school," she said. "We can get lost in this community and on this campus."

The graduate school now is in space in the center of campus, "in the heart of the undergraduates," and classrooms can be scattered through other buildings.

The graduate school will also be closer to King Hall, the law school, which will make it easier to coordinate classes between the graduate programs, she said.

The graduate school of management has 500 students, 120 of whom attend classes at the university. The school also offers working professional courses at One Capitol Mall in Sacramento and in San Ramon.

Students are packed into the existing school space, said Jim Stevens, assistant dean for student affairs. The program is getting some temporary additional space for the next couple years, and it will be able to cater to 170 students in the new building.

Both buildings are designed to reflect the architectural motif of the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts and the Robert Mondavi Institute for Wine and Food Science, both of which are also at the entrance to the university. Those buildings are light sandstone and feature dramatic glass entrances. The two new buildings also share that design.

"That is intentional," Yates said. "We wanted the design to be reflective of what we have there. We wanted them to fit in the neighborhood."

Because it is deep in the campus with little space of its own, the graduate school currently has difficulty working with the regional business community, Biggart said.

"This gift by Gallagher is a gift to our school and to the students, of course, but it is also a gift to the business community," she said. "It will provide opportunities for the public to get involved."

The Sacramento office of Sundt Cos. Inc. won the contract to build the school and the two-story, 42,000-square-foot conference center. It is working with architects Sasaki Associates Inc. of San Francisco.

After the food institute, graduate school building, conference center and hotel, the last piece of the master plan for the entrance to the campus is a $30 million UC Davis art museum. The art gallery project will not begin until it has raised half its construction cost through a capital campaign. | 916-558-7874

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UC Davis prof gets $2.4M stem-cell grant

Thursday, December 13, 2007
UC Davis prof gets $2.4M stem-cell grant
Sacramento Business Journal

Chon-xian Pan, a University of California Davis scientist, received a New Faculty Award from the state's stem-cell institute Wednesday.

The $2.4 million award from The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine was part of $54 million the institute granted.

The funding is designed to provide money to back five years of research by early stage stem-cell scientists at universities and nonprofits.

Stanford University received four grants for about $10.7 million.

In all, UC Davis has received more than $11 million and Stanford has received nearly $41.4 million from the stem-cell agency since it began handing out research money in April 2006.

Grants began going out last year, and the top four total money recipients, after Stanford, are:

* UC-San Francisco, $29.7 million
* UCLA, $23.3 million
* UC-San Diego, $19.8 million
* UC-Irvine, $19.6 million.

San Jose Business Journal

All contents of this site © American City Business Journals Inc. All rights reserved.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Suisun City YMCA To Open Teen Center

Suisun City YMCA To Open Teen Center
By Nika Megino | Daily Republic

SUISUN CITY - The North Bay YMCA will transform an unused room into a place where teens can hang out after school.

A $21,000 grant from the Suisun City Parks and Recreation Commission is making it possible, with $10,000 being used for the teen center and the remaining $11,000 going to other existing programs.

North Bay YMCA was selected as the recipient of the city's first Quality of Life grants after an application process involving nonprofit organizations that serve youth.

The aim is to provide a safe haven for students between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., North Bay YMCA executive Rodney Chin said. That is a time when most minors often find themselves home alone or on the street.

'That's a formula for getting into trouble,' Chin said. 'It's highly needed in this community in any community. It's in our mission to bring up strong kids, families and communities.'

The teen center, which is scheduled to open in mid- to late January, will provide games such as pool and foosball. There will also be a lounge area where teens can listen to music and chat.

Other possible services include tutoring programs and a computer lab.

'It's endless as to what the possibilities are on what we can do,' Chin said.

The $21,000 grant was part of a $30,000 grant authorized by the Suisun City Council.

Approximately $6,000 of the $30,000 grant will be used by the city to create a youth quarterly events and activities calendar. The remaining $3,000 will be distributed as individual grants up to $300.

For more information about the Quality of Life Grant Program or grants, call 421-7200. For more information or to submit suggestions for the center, call 421-8746

Reach Nika Megino at 427-6953 or

Friday, December 14, 2007

STA To Consider Corridor Committee For Highway 12

STA To Consider Corridor Committee For Highway 12
Article Launched: 12/14/2007 08:18:30 AM PST
The Reporter, Vacaville

Rather than consider Highway 12 and its safety in segments, an idea is gaining ground for three counties to collaborate through a corridor advisory committee for the roadway.

The Highway 12 Steering Committee, composed of officials across Solano County, unanimously approved the corridor committee concept Wednesday and received a positive reaction to it Wednesday from the Solano Transportation authority.

If approved by the STA in January, the committee would comprise two members of the STA, two members of the San Joaquin Council of Governments and one member of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments.

The group would meet twice a year and act as a forum for the counties, transportation agencies, law enforcement and others to convene and discuss issues involving Highway 12.

Fairfield Mayor Harry Price, a member of the steering committee, said instead of looking at Highway 12 in pieces, the new committee would see the roadway as one.

"It's a more integrated approach so the whole corridor is the issue," Price said.

San Joaquin County Supervisor Ken Vogel made the trip to Wednesday's meeting and said after seeing the barriers and other improvements on what has been a deadly stretch of Highway 12 in Solano County, he was excited to work with the STA.
"I want to congratulate you on the work you've done," Vogel said. "We are very concerned about what's going on. Highway 12 safety is our number-one transportation priority."

The STA has several upcoming projects and studies involving Highway 12, such as a Rio Vista Bridge study and a Highway 12 corridor study, that the committee would oversee, if created.

Bob Macaulay, STA director of planning, said with the upcoming studies and the upcoming release of various transportation grants, now is a good time to form the committee.

"You have been through the evolution of the factors (behind the committee)," Macaulay said. "Now seems like the appropriate time to get this corridor committee up and running."

Danny Bernardini can be reached at

Council Approves Center's Overhaul

Council Approves Center's Overhaul
By Jennifer Gentile/Staff Writer

A plan to overhaul a faltering shopping center in Vacaville met with City Council approval Tuesday night.

The council unanimously supported the renovation of Alamo Plaza, located at the intersection of Alamo Drive and Merchant Street. The plaza has seen better days, officials agreed, with the loss of major tenants contributing to its decline.

The center was built in the 1970s and features gross leasable space of more than 165,000 square feet. It currently does not have an anchor store, with Big Lots as its largest tenant, and has an overall vacancy rate of 50 percent.

Applicant F.H. One has proposed a complete makeover for the plaza, which includes sprucing up the facades of existing buildings and adding two new structures. One of the additions is a 24,000-square-foot office/retail building. The other is a 70-foot tall, centrally located tower.

The tower would include 400 square feet of retail space, and as project engineer Tom Phillippi explained, will "serve as a landmark, as a feature to draw attention to the center."

"We hope it can be tall enough to be seen from quite a ways away," Phillippi said.

Councilman Steve Wilkins praised the parking lot configuration and said "the project is appealing to me."

"This is an important step in revitalizing a center that has somewhat languished over the years," Wilkins added.
His fellow councilman, Curtis Hunt, said, "I like the project, I like the design of the project, I like the tower - I think it's unique." However, he tempered his praise with some concerns about traffic - particularly turns from a driveway onto Merchant Street.

Phillippi maintained that the driveway is safe, adding that a stop light "allows big gaps in traffic." The council decided that it will revisit the matter as the project progresses, but not with the idea that the driveway could be closed.

Mayor Len Augustine and Vice Mayor Chuck Dimmick stressed the importance of proper and permanent signage, as opposed to temporary, sandwich-board type of signs. Phillippi said signage plans are forthcoming.

The project will be completed in three phases, with phase one including some parking lot work and the tower feature. The remainder of the parking lot would be re-striped during phase two. Renovation of the existing buildings also would be completed during these phases.

Phase three would include construction of the two-story office/retail building.

Phillippi said working drawings for phase one are well under way and soon will be submitted to the city. He anticipates that construction work will begin in the spring.

Jennifer Gentile can be reached at

Close Look At Solano Economy

Close Look At Solano Economy
By Cathy Bussewitz/Staff Writer

An analysis of the state of agriculture in the county, brainstorming toward creating a countywide lobbying group for the business community - and lots of coffee.
Those were the ingredients in the third annual Solano Economic Summit on Thursday at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fairfield.

The favorite of the business leaders, city planners and elected officials who gathered was a presentation by Kurt Richter, a Ph.D. student at the University of California Agricultural Issues Center, who talked about the need for diversified, smart growth in agriculture.

"The food grown in Solano County goes into your Heinz ketchup and ends up on your plate at Chez Panisse," Richter said. "That's a lot of diversity."

Richter pointed out that in 2006, the county's 360,000 acres of farm land generated more than $243 million.

"We have to understand that agriculture is a for-profit business," Richter said. "It must be viewed that way. The farmers are out there to make a buck."

To that end, researchers at the issues center identified the top 10 commodities by value that Solano's agriculture industry produces. Nursery products were first, followed by cattle, hay and alfalfa.

The researchers spent the summer driving throughout the county, input the data they collected into a GIS mapping system, and then identified nine agricultural regions in the county, and calculated each region's value per acre.

The Dixon Ridge area, Suisun Valley, and an area near Winters were identified as leaders in producing agricultural retail value in the county

"Now we're beginning to figure out where the real engines are for Solano County agriculture," Richter said. "The central question is, what does Solano County want their agriculture to be?" Richter said. "I'm not just talking about the supervisors or the agriculture community. I'm talking about what urban people want."

Mike Ammann, president of the Solano Economic Development Corporation, talked about using maps and data to highlight the county's other successful economic developments.

His office is working with Collaborative Economics, a Mountain View-based consulting firm, to generate an annual index that will measure the economic strength and health of the county's communities.

Ammann said they're also developing an analysis of Northern California's growth clusters, which will focus on life sciences, alternative and renewable energy, and "advanced" food and beverages, like vitamin-enhanced "sports beans." They're hoping to deliver preliminary results in a workshop this spring.

"I have been on a personal mission to get us on the biotech map," Ammann said. "Yeah, everyone knows Vacaville, everyone knows Genentech. But they don't know that there's a biotech corridor stretching from San Jose to Sacramento."

More than $500 million in research is contracted to UC Berkeley and UC Davis every year, Ammann said. And he pointed out that with 900 biotech companies, Northern California has the largest biotech cluster in the nation. The region employs 90,000 people and generates $6 billion in annual payrolls, boasting an average wage of $68,000.

County business leaders are also in the process of developing a business council for the sole purpose of advocacy. Dan Sharp, of Sharp Public Affairs, said the council would differ from existing agencies like Solano EDC and local chambers of commerce because it would be directed and funded by private interests, and would be able to lobby on politically divisive issues like land and water use. The goal is to have an initial meeting in February 2008.

"Not only are we at the point where the size of our county is big enough to sustain it, but in fact, we need it," Sharp said. "We are bigger than Anaheim. We are bigger than Oakland. If we harness the strength of those numbers, we can have a much greater impact in Sacramento and D.C."

Cathy Bussewitz can be reached at

Summit: County Farming Industry Both Unique And Complex

Summit: County Farming Industry Both Unique And Complex
By Barry Eberling | DAILY REPUBLIC | December 13, 2007 15:15

Carolyn Woytek of El Dorado Hills picks some produce at Parker Farms earlier this year. File photo.

FAIRFIELD - Community and business leaders attending the third Solano Economic Summit Thursday heard a variety of possible steps to make farming and ranching thrive in the county.

'Agriculture is a business never forget that,' said Kurt Richter of the University of California Agricultural Issues Center.

The region needs to keep its agricultural processing plants and build more, Richter said. Farmers need to be plugged into politics. City dwellers need to appreciate agriculture and support it. Solano County will have to make some tough land use decisions, he said.

And county decisions on agriculture need to be driven by good data and information, the type of information that has been lacking, he said.

Richter and colleague Al Sokolow are changing that. They have just finished a study on Solano County farming that ended up being four studies. The county Board of Supervisors will hear the results in January.

But farming is hardly monolithic locally, making easy answers hard to come by. Richter and Sokolow ended up dividing the county into nine farming regions, ranging from Suisun and Green valleys to Winters, the Dixon Ridge and the western coastal hills. Each is unique, with different soil qualities, topography and weather.

'Solano County agriculture is really complex,' Richter said.

Among the challenges the studies found facing farming in some areas is housing development not necessarily from cities, but rural residential development. Richter mentioned the western edge of the fertile Dixon-Vacaville farming area near Interstate 505 as an example.

The county can help the farming economy by getting another nursery or more dairies, he said. Nursery products were the top commodity in 2006. Should a dairy come to the Elmira area, it could use the alfalfa and other crops grown there and provide a tremendous boost, he said.

Middle Green Valley has become a tough environment for traditional farming, Richter said. But Suisun Valley has wineries that are producing luxury-class and ultra-premium wines, he said.

'The corner is turning in Suisun Valley,' he said.

Board of Supervisors Chairman Mike Reagan indicated more reports will be upcoming on other economic topics.

'We chose agriculture first because it's such an important part of Solano County,' he told the gathering. 'You've heard the challenge.'

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646, Ext. 232, or at

Solano County agriculture
- Acres: 359,892
- Annual production value: $243 million
- Value per acre of production: $675
- Top 10 commodities by 2006 value: Nursery products, cattle and calves, hay and alfalfa, tomatoes, vegetables, walnuts, milk, grapes and wine, almonds and dried plumbs.
(Source: University of California Agricultural Issues Center)

Economic Summit Trumpets Success Of Collaboration

Economic Summit Trumpets Success Of Collaboration
By Ines Bebea | Daily Republic | December 13, 2007 16:25

FAIRFIELD - The importance of collaboration as the catalyst to ensure success and growth across the county was the defining theme of the Solano Economic Summit 3.

More than 150 guests, including representatives from county and local government, met Thursday at Hilton Garden Inn to discuss the economic strides and highlights of 2007 and lay the groundwork for future success.

'Today is about the successes that we've had in the past year from collaborating with each other to face issues,' said Mike Reagan, chairman of the Solano County Board of Supervisors. 'The business sector knows that they need to work together on policy needs with the public sector, and that is one of the many relationships that create success.'

The Solano Economic Summit 3 was presented by Solano County, the Solano Economic Development Corp., Solano Transportation Authority, the City and County Coordinating Council, and UC Davis.

Among the highlights of 2007 were addressing the growing number of fatalities and accidents on Highway 12. Community support, combined with the work of the Solano Transportation Authority and legislation sponsored by Assemblywoman Lois Wolk, D-Davis, were key to facing the challenges.

'In the span of 10 years, Highway 12 went from being our little secret to a major road used by commuters and businesses transporting goods,' said Daryl Halls, executive director of the Solano Transportation Authority. 'Because of what those changes brought, it became the board's No. 1 priority, and the public demand for safety was key to what we were able to accomplish.'

The effort resulted in funds used to combat the rise in fatalities and accidents by installing median barriers along the highway. According to Halls, future discussions will tackle widening the highway and increasing assistance from the California Highway Patrol and the California Department of Transportation.

In addition to transportation and the existing infrastructure, the discussion included affordable housing, education, agriculture, workforce development and alternative sources of energy.

'From an educational standpoint, we need to know from the business community what jobs they need now and in the future so that we can prepare our youth to fill those positions,' said Dee Alarcon, superintendent of schools for the Solano County Office of Education. 'As part of economic growth, there needs to be workforce development, and that continues to be one of our goals.'

Part of the workforce development strategy will be a youth summit tentatively scheduled for March 15, 2008, Alarcon said. She encouraged business representatives to participate in the discussion that will address the issues facing Solano County students entering a changing labor force.

The summit was also the official debut of the Solano County Business Council. The role of the council is to serve as an organization that will lobby for issues affecting the county's economic growth and quality of life at the state and national level.

'As a county that is situated between two growing cities in Sacramento and San Francisco, we need to make sure that the growth impacts us in a positive way,' said Dan Sharp, president of Sharp Public Affairs and a representative of the council. 'We want to grow as a county and do it together to promote all of our industries.

Reach Ines Bebea at 427-6934 or

Proposal For Center To Coordinate Energy, Climate Change Research

Proposal For Center To Coordinate Energy, Climate Change Research
More embarrassing riches - life sciences and energy research
David R. Baker, Chronicle Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The University of California may soon become home to an ambitious, $600 million institute that would coordinate energy and climate change research at schools and labs throughout the state, supported by money from your monthly electric bills.

The proposed California Institute for Climate Solutions would bring together universities - such as UC Berkeley and Stanford - better known as rivals than partners.

Each school and national laboratory involved already has scientists and engineers hunting for sources of energy, more efficient ways to use power and other means to fight global warming. Now their efforts would be coordinated by a central administration hosted by UC.

The project's substantial price tag would be paid through Californians' utility bills. A typical homeowner could pay an extra 30 cents per month as a result.

The idea is the brainchild of Michael Peevey, president of the California Public Utilities Commission. The commission will hold a public workshop today in San Francisco to hammer out some of the issues, although a final commission vote on the project is probably months away.

Peevey sees the proposed institute as a way to cement California's position as the world's premier location for energy and climate change research.

"It's to marshal the best minds to address the biggest calamity mankind has ever faced," said Peevey, who under the current proposal could become one of the institute's co-chairmen. "You put all this together. There's so much going on here, and it builds on itself."

Although they have haggled over some of the details, the idea has drawn broad support from other schools after the University of California formally proposed it in September.

Several consumer groups, however, have questioned the wisdom of asking utility customers to pay for it.

The universities and labs, they note, already have funding for their own research. And utility customers already pay for other renewable energy projects, such as California's rebates for homeowners who install solar panels.

to read the rest of the article check out the San Francisco Chronicle

E-mail David R. Baker at

Thursday, December 13, 2007

City Opts For Future Of Power

City Opts For Future Of Power
Vacaville grants a lease option at the wastewater treatment facility for a firm that wants to build a 500-megawatt-or-less peaker plant.
By Jennifer Gentile/Staff Writer

Years of scrutiny lie ahead before a power facility is built near Vacaville's wastewater treatment plant, but City Council action Tuesday night moved the proposal forward.

By unanimous vote, the council granted a three-year option to lease 25 acres at the Easterly Wastewater Treatment Plant. The lease includes two additional one-year extensions. Washington D.C.-based Competitive Power Ventures is proposing to build a 500-megawatt-or-less peaker plant in the southwest corner of the site.

Peaker plants generally operate only during periods of high demand.

With Pacific Gas & Electric looking to add 2,300 megawatts of new power in its service area, CPV plans to pitch its idea for a Vacaville plant to the company. The site's closeness to a natural gas pipeline, access to high-voltage power lines and the availability of water sparked the firm's interest in the site.

"This is an ideal site for a power plant," said Michael Hatfield, CPV's director of project development. "We looked very carefully for sites that make sense."

The plant may require millions of gallons of water a day for cooling purposes, and CPV has proposed buying from the city some wastewater treated at Easterly. This agreement could mean up to $200,000 a year to the city, officials have said, and is one of several financial gains the city could realize if the plant moves forward.

While the option to lease is in effect, the firm must pay $100,000 the first year and an another $25,000 each additional year. When the lease is initiated and the plant is fully operational, CPV would pay $650,000 adjusted annually, while also guaranteeing at least $1 million each year in tax revenue as long as the firm is contracting with PG&E or another power purchaser. These revenues would bolster both the city's general fund and utility operations.

In addition to the lease option, the council considered potential lease terms that are nonbinding at this point. The proposed terms include the financial points of the lease and call for a 25-year lease period that can be extended for two additional 10-year periods.

Along with his colleagues, Councilman Curtis Hunt spoke strongly in favor of the plant.

"This is the exact kind of thinking we're going to have to proceed with as a city government," Hunt said, adding, "this has great potential for us."

Councilman Steve Wilkins said the idea "makes good sense."

"I see this as a good business practice," Wilkins said, "and a way to deal with the energy consumption issue we're certainly going to be facing."

Staff stressed that the plant is far from fruition - even with the council's support. For example, the proposal must be accepted by PG&E, and the licensing process through the California Energy Commission calls for an environmental review.

"It is a highly public process," Hatfield said of licensing. "It could take up to 18 months." Given the permitting requirements and other obstacles, the plant may not be completed until 2012.

City Manager David Van Kirk said the proposal is exciting, as well as timely. With Vacaville's Measure I set to expire in 2013, he explained, the revenue from the plant would offset the loss of those funds.

Jennifer Gentile can be reached at

Business Summit Focuses On Collaboration

Business Summit Focuses On Collaboration
By Ines Bebea | Daily Republic | December 13, 2007 11:43

FAIRFIELD - The importance of collaboration as the catalyst to ensure success and growth across the county was the defining theme of the latest economic summit.

More than 150 guests, including county and local government representatives, gathered at the Hilton Garden Inn in Fairfield today to discuss the economic strides made this year and how to continue that success in the future.

The Solano Economic Summit 3 was a joint effort by the Solano Economic Development Corp., Solano County, Solano Transportation Authority, and UC Davis.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

ALZA Corporation Unveils Largest Privately Owned Solar Site In California

ALZA Corporation Unveils Largest Privately Owned Solar Site In California
SPF-1000 to Offset Nearly 1.4 Million Pounds of Greenhouse Gas Annually

Vacaville, CA (December 5, 2007) — ALZA Corporation's Vacaville manufacturing facility, [a member of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies], today unveiled a 1-megawatt (MW) photovoltaic solar energy system. The ALZA solar panel field, dubbed SPF-1000, will be one of the largest privately owned commercial solar energy systems of its kind in California.

SPF-1000 will enable the manufacturing plant to produce one-third of the power the plant requires on a high-power-demand summer day. This system is built by SPG Solar Inc., of San Rafael, Calif., and generates the equivalent amount of energy to power 250 homes, as well as offset nearly 1.4 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

"ALZA remains steadfast in our ongoing commitment to environmental responsibility," said Henry Esparza, General Manager of ALZA. "We are excited to show off just what this solar field can do and the benefits it will yield for the Vacaville community."

SPF-1000 uses an active single-axis sun-tracking mechanism to collect the most sunlight per acre of land by orienting the solar panels to the sun as it moves across the sky from east to west throughout the day. The 1-MW field covers approximately 6.5 acres adjacent to the ALZA Vacaville facility. All of the energy generated by SPF-1000 will be used by the Vacaville plant, which operates 24 hours per day.

The solar panel array field will also play an instrumental role in benefiting the surrounding community. Although not tied into the public utility grid, SPF-1000 will reduce the risk of rolling power brownouts in the community by offsetting demands on the power grid.

Parent company Johnson & Johnson has a company-wide goal of reducing its carbon footprint at its facilities nationwide by seven percent by 2010. In addition to the ALZA Vacaville site, Johnson & Johnson has installed solar power systems at a number of other corporate locations, including Janssen Pharmaceutica in Titusville, NJ; Cordis Corporation in Warren, NJ; J&J Consumer in Skillman, NJ; J&J Corporate Headquarters in New Brunswick, NJ; and Neutrogena Corporation in Los Angeles, CA. SPF-1000 is the ninth and largest solar installation for Johnson & Johnson, which brings the total on-site solar power generation to 3.5 megawatts. Currently, Johnson & Johnson is the largest corporate user of on-site solar power.

In 2005, Johnson & Johnson's California companies were recognized by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for their CO2 reduction initiatives and were presented the Governor's Environmental and Economic Leadership Award for Sustainable Practices. California is home to nine Johnson & Johnson companies.

As a member of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, ALZA Corporation currently serves as one of Johnson & Johnson's West Coast Pharmaceutical Research & Development sites. With a 40-year history of scientific innovation, ALZA's drug delivery technology has been incorporated in 30 commercialized products sold worldwide. For further information, visit ALZA's web site at

Vacaville Inches Closer To Power Plant

Vacaville Inches Closer To Power Plant
By Ian Thompson | DAILY REPUBLIC | December 11, 2007 23:08

VACAVILLE -The Vacaville City Council took the first step Tuesday to getting a power plant in four years that could add $1.7 million to city coffers once it is up and running.

Competitive Power Ventures, the company that wants to build the plant east of town, still has to convince Pacific Gas and Electric to award it a contract to build the plant.

City councilmembers helped clear the road by giving the Maryland-based company a three-year option to lease 25 acres next to the city's Easterly Wastewater Treatment Plant.

'This is the exact kind of thinking we need as a city government,' said Councilman Curtis Hunt of income for the city in the form of lease payments, property taxes and selling treated wastewater to the plant that will be used to cool its generators.

'We can't just depend on city taxes,' Hunt said. 'This has great potential for us.'

Councilman Steve Wilkins talked about the blackouts of 2000 and 2001, stating that the plant 'makes good sense when it comes to energy consumption.'

Mayor Len Augustine liked the fact that treated wastewater that is presently being dumped out into a stream, can be sold to the power plant.

Competitive Power Ventures wants to build a natural gas-powered electrical plant similar to smaller power plants that are located in Fairfield and Suisun City.

The firm wants the lease now so it can be ready with a proposal when PG&E issues a request for proposals early in 2008 to a build a plant in this area.

Once Competitive Power Venture gets a contract from PG&E and approvals from state agencies, construction could begin in 2010 with the plant coming on line in 2012.

Fairfield has one natural gas-powered, 48-megawatt power plant and Suisun City has three which are capable of generating as much as 47 megawatts.

All these plants were built in 2003 by Calpine Corp. under contract with the state to prevent rolling blackouts that occurred in 2000 and 2001.

DG Power International of Walnut Creek wants to build a plant capable of generating between 200 and 500 megawatts in Fairfield. It is also applying to PG&E for approvals.

In other business, the council approved buying a 1.5-acre site on the south side of Orange Drive for a future fire station to provide better fire protection for northeast Vacaville.

Councilmembers lauded landowner Billy Yarbrough who declared half the $622,643 cost of the land to be a donation to the city and asked that the balance be used as a credit to be used whenever nearby Yarbrough Trust land is developed.

'We are so respectful for what he has done for this city,' Augustine said.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Vacaville's Power Play

Vacaville's Power Play
Plant Could Be A Good Fit

Vacaville may have a chance to contribute to the nation's switch to cleaner energy and make a little money in the process. It's an idea worth exploring.

Tonight, the City Council will be asked to take the first steps toward a deal that could lead to a 500-megawatt, natural-gas fueled power plant being built on 25 acres of city-owned property next to the Easterly Wastewater Treatment Plant in Elmira.

Council support for the project tonight is no guarantee that the plant ever will be built. It's a bit like anteing up for a very long poker game.

Tonight's ante includes modifying the zoning rules to allow for such a plant and entering into a year-long agreement to negotiate with the company that wants to lease the land and build the plant.

The agreement and zoning change would give Competitive Power Ventures of Washington, D.C., the ability to seek a long-term power contract with Pacific Gas & Electric. If it acquires a contract, the company could then ask permission from the California Energy Commission to build the plant.

The location seems ideal. The site has access to a natural gas supply, as well as high-powered transmission lines to carry away the electricity produced. And treated water from Easterly could be used to cool the generators.

Between rent on the leased land, the sale of treated water and the property taxes generated, a power plant could bring as much as $2.5 million a year to the city.

As envisioned, the plant would augment electrical supplies during peak usage hours, and it would do so in a much cleaner way than coal-powered plants. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "Compared to the average air emissions from coal-fired generation, natural gas produces half as much carbon dioxide, less than a third as much nitrogen oxides, and 1 percent as much sulfur oxides."

Still, even natural gas-powered plants have emissions. Eventually the proposal would have to undergo an environmental review, at which time the pros of allowing it to operate would be weighed against the effect on the neighbors in Elmira.

That's not a small drawback. Elmira residents already put up with the negative effects of the wastewater treatment plant, such as odors. Their concerns must be addressed and alleviated before any power plant is built.

But Vacaville should play that hand when it's dealt. Tonight, it's enough for the City Council to agree to take a seat at the table.

RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE: Rivendale Homes Looks for Growth in Dixon

RESIDENTIAL REAL ESTATE: Rivendale Homes Looks for Growth in Dixon
Santa Rosa Builder Attracted to Solano’s High-Wage Jobs, Proximity to Higher-Cost Davis
by William Jason Staff Reporter

NORTH BAY – Santa Rosa-based homebuilder Rivendale Homes is moving forward with plans to build 216 homes on more than 60 acres in the Solano County city of Dixon.

Rivendale’s project, Sandalwood – the largest for the company to date – is one of several proposed residential developments that are expected to add some 1,200 new homes to an undeveloped agricultural area in the southwestern corner of Dixon. Rivendale’s project likely will be the first to reach the public hearing stage, according to a Dixon planning official, and it is currently the largest of the southwest projects with applications on file.

Other homebuilders include Ryder Homes of Walnut Creek and Western Pacific Housing, a division of Ft. Worth, Tex.-based D.R. Horton Inc. (NYSE:DHI).

Sandalwood would be the company’s sixth development in Solano County and its second in Dixon. Rivendale President Chris Peterson said his company is attracted to Solano County because of the growing number of jobs in biotechnology and other industries with highly skilled workers.

“Not only do they have good jobs growth but the jobs they are creating are relatively high-paying, unlike Sonoma County, which tends to create a lot of tourism jobs, which aren’t high-paying,” Mr. Peterson said.

Solano County’s private sector wages edged above those in Sonoma County this year for the first time since at least 2001, according to first quarter estimates from the California Employment Development Department. Solano’s average first-quarter weekly wage increased 32 percent since 2001 to $796, while Sonoma’s rose 17 percent during the same period, reaching $790 this year.

Solano County’s wage growth did not protect it from the affects of the current housing market downturn. The median price of a single family home in Solano County fell to $471,541 in the third quarter of 2007, down 10 percent from the same period a year earlier, according to data from Prudential California Realty. That compares to Sonoma County’s drop of only 1 percent to $581,648 for the same period.

However, values in Dixon – Solano’s northernmost city – remained relatively stable, dropping only 4 percent year-over-year to $437,500. That is roughly on par with the 5 percent drop to $511,000 in Santa Rosa, Sonoma County’ largest new home market.

According to Mr. Peterson, the Dixon market is bolstered by its proximity to the city of Davis, where demand for housing remains high because of a strict growth-control policy and the presence of the University of California. Since the two cities are less than 10 miles apart, potential homebuyers often turn to Dixon if they are priced out of Davis, where the median home sold for $572,000 in the third quarter, according to data provided by Century 21 Trongo & Associates.

“You can go up and down the Central Valley and I don’t think you’re going to find prices any higher than you do in Davis,” Mr. Peterson said. “Davis is one of the reasons why Dixon is so appealing.”

Like other homebuilders, Rivendale has suffered the impacts of the current housing downturn, decreasing in size by about 10 percent to 40 employees and cutting prices by 10 percent across the board at all of its projects.

Mr. Peterson said the company is looking for growth in Dixon because of the city’s “strategic location” between Sacramento and the Bay Area, and its 3 percent per-year growth cap, which will help long-term values by restricting supply. He pointed out that Sacramento, another area where North Bay homebuilders have looked for expansion, did not have a similar cap and is now suffering from a glut of housing.

“Dixon supplies homes for people who work throughout the Bay Area and Northern California, but they do restrict the amount of housing that can be built,” he said.

Construction of roads and infrastructure for Sandalwood could begin late next year, followed by home construction beginning in the spring of 2009. The company will not push back its start date because of the current housing slump, according to Mr. Peterson.

“We don’t think it’s wise not to start a project,” he said. “We may move forward through the build-out of the project depending on market conditions but we will always keep the project going."

Monday, December 10, 2007

Commercializing A Campus Creation

Commercializing A Campus Creation
SynapSense Shows UCD Research's Promise
By Clint Swett -
Published 12:00 am PST Sunday, December 9, 2007

Raju Pandey is turning these images of a data center temperature controller into commercial reality at SynapSense in Folsom, where he is chief technology officer. The product grew out of work that was done in Pandey's UC Davis computer research project. Venture capitalists ultimately invested $12.5 million in the technology.
Randy Pench /

The work done on Raju Pandey's computer research project at UC Davis between 2003 and 2006 produced the expected trove of top-drawer students who cranked out three doctoral and three master's theses.

It also generated the foundation for one of the more promising tech companies the region has recently produced – so promising that it brought in more than $12.5 million in venture funding in less than two years.

Pandey leveraged his research to co-found SynapSense Corp., a Folsom startup that developed a system of remote sensors to help rein in the burgeoning power drain exerted by electricity-hungry computer data centers.

At the University of California, Davis, officials are using Pandey's transition to light the path for other researchers and students in hopes of building momentum in moving other discoveries into the commercial arena.

"The university has been very much behind us on this," said Pandey, 45, sitting in a small conference room in SynapSense's Folsom headquarters. "I think they want to create more such companies. Many more people are doing great research there. They have great technology."

There's little question of a market eager for ways to control the power consumption of data centers – especially with heightened concern over greenhouse gas emissions. The facilities gobbled up 1.5 percent of all electricity consumed in the United States in 2006, a percentage expected to double in the next five years.

By some estimates, electricity used to cool data centers accounts for nearly half of the power such facilities consume. And SynapSense projects that its technology could cut cooling costs by 30 percent.

UC Davis has made recent strides in accelerating the transfer of technology to the marketplace, but a home run by Pandey and SynapSense would fully realize the power of the concept.

"Many faculty members can invent a technology with commercial opportunity, but (Pandey) committed himself to seeing the company through its early stages. That differentiates him from others," said Meg Arnold, who helps run InnovationAccess, the UC Davis program designed to bring research discoveries to market.

Even more atypical, he works outside agriculture, the field where UCD has seen its greatest success with tech transfer. The bulk of UCD's licensing revenue comes from strawberry varieties used by big growers, but the school hopes more will come from the 26 startup companies spun off from UC Davis research in the past seven years.

UCD now brings in between $9 million and $10 million in royalties a year for licensing its discoveries to outside business. In 2006, that put UCD on a par with UC Berkeley at $7.7 million and UC Irvine at $9.9 million, though far behind UC San Francisco where licensing fees from medical-related discoveries brought in $127.1 million.

Licensing agreements vary, Arnold said. A well-heeled licensee like a pharmaceutical company might pay royalties plus a large upfront fee. Startups like SynapSense typically pay less initially, making it up in higher royalty percentage based on revenue. In addition, companies with an exclusive license to the technology generally pay patent costs, which often exceed $20,000.

Citing a confidentiality agreement, Arnold declined to reveal the terms of the SynapSense agreement.

In such agreements, not all the money goes back to the university. Typically, 35 percent of royalties go to the faculty and students credited with the invention, Arnold said.

In getting the ideas off the ground, Pandey said, he wears a dual identity as a researcher and entrepreneur.

"I call it a pencil-sharpening process," he said. "From a technologist's point of view, our goal is to be as perfect as we can be. But then our marketing and sales people say, 'It's sharp enough.'"

Pandey, who was reared in Patna, India, excelled in math and science, and did his undergraduate work at the elite Indian Institute of Technology's Kharagpur campus. He earned his master's at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and his doctorate in computer science at the University of Texas in Austin.

He joined the faculty at UC Davis in 1995, and between 2003 and 2005 he and a handful of students worked on a project called Software Environment for Networks of Sensors and Embedded Systems. The work would lead to the founding of SynapSense.

Funded by grants from Intel Corp. and the National Science Foundation, the research focused on how to design sensor systems that operate remotely from a central computer.

That problem is knottier than it may seem, Pandey said.

Designers have to deal with problems such as battery life in remote devices, limited bandwidth in transmitting data, and maintenance at remote sites that you can't conveniently visit. "You can't just walk in and reset the sensor," he said.

Pandey and his students developed an architecture so promising that UC Davis decided to apply for a patent.

"We look at two things, patentability and marketability," Arnold said. The SENSES project seemed to have produced both.

In the capital investment world, the research resonated most strongly with American River Ventures.

"Raju had done his homework about what it takes to start a company," said Barbara Grant, a director of the Roseville-based venture capital firm. "I knew right from the get-go that he was a quality person who worked hard to do everything right."

ARV introduced Pandey to Peter Van Deventer, who had recently left an executive position with Intel Corp. in Folsom in hopes of starting his own company.

"I had started at looking at deals around the world and really found there was a lack of good intellectual property," Van Deventer said. "Then ARV told me they had found a really good technologist and technology, and lo and behold, it was right there in Davis."

Van Deventer said it quickly became apparent that Pandey and his team had developed something significant.

"People all over the world had been trying to develop a commercially viable architecture," he said, "and Raju cracked the code."

The two agreed almost immediately to start a firm seeded by $1.25 million from ARV and $250,000 from DFJ Frontier in West Sacramento. "Raju was the technologist," Van Deventer said. "I was the business guy. It was a perfect fit."

In the 21 months since its founding, SynapSense has grown to 40 employees and landed an additional $11 million in funding. Although the privately held firm does not disclose revenue or many other business details, it has revealed it's involved in projects with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and IBM.

Pandey said the transition to the private sector has required a change in mindset.

"At the university, everything is defined in terms of how you train your students," he said. "Here, you ask yourself, 'Did I get something done?'"

If Pandey returns to the classroom, as he intends, he said he will be a better teacher for his experience – especially the skills required to conceive and manage a long-term project.

For her part, Arnold hopes that Pandey's influence extends beyond the classroom.

"We want to start to work with companies when they are just ideas in grad students' heads," she said.

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