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California 100 Convenes Tech Industry Leaders for Tech & Science Policy Workshop

As California 100 prepares a science and technology policy agenda for the next 100 years of California, we are continuing to engage stakeholders from the industry, research, academia, and funding communities to broaden our pool of ideas. As part of this engagement, on Friday, October 14th, we held a workshop at the UC Collaboration Center at Lawrence Livermore National Lab, with the sponsorship and assistance of Pat Falcone (California 100 advisory council member and Deputy Director of Science and Technology for LLNL) and Steven Bohlen (Senior Director of the LLNL Office of Government Affairs). The twenty-two participants in the workshop were hand-selected from across Northern California’s research institutes and technology centers (a second workshop for Southern California participants is planned for early 2023), and included faculty and researchers from the Cal State and UC systems and Stanford; CTOs and CEOs; venture investors; and technology policy leaders from nonprofits and from state government.

The purpose of our discussions at the workshop was to outline concrete policy ideas that would improve the practice of science and technology research, education, commercialization, development, and manufacturing in California. We began with a full-group discussion about California’s progress in building a science and technology economy, and obstacles to that progress, including public education, funding, procurement, and tax policy. Discussions continued in topic-based groups to dig into the details of policy ideas, fixes, and tweaks that could have near-term impact to put California on a long-term trajectory for success.

Attendees’ ideas spanned proposals to incentivize collaborative, outcomes-oriented grantmaking by the state; Opportunity Zones in California; state matching funds for federal (e.g., SBIR) funding; a repository for California’s ecosystem data, on soil quality, microbiome, and water usage; a prototype “California EPCOT” to test policy innovations with residents; instituting participatory public input boards for tech companies; city Digital Service teams; algorithmic literacy education in K-12 public schools; tracking the state employment rate in terms of “good employment” (workers who are satisfied and fulfilled with their jobs); expanding Oakland’s tech equity collective; creating a research sandbox to make state administrative data more accessible; incorporating evaluative measures into every policy, so we can track the performance of policies in an objective and data-driven way; and investigating pegging civil service salaries to the private sector and putting together a fellowship for private sector technologists to do “tours of duty” in state and local governments. Over the next few months, we will be investigating, pressure-testing, and continuing to research and investigate these ideas, in the hope of translating them into win-win policies for California.

The ideas and suggestions that were raised in this workshop will inform our advanced technology strategy for California, which will serve as a living document that we will bring to policymakers and distribute to stakeholders and the public for discussion. Suggestions and input are welcome, and if you have a concrete policy idea for the future of California’s science and innovation economy, please get in touch!