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In the recently concluded Innovate Sac event—as part of Sacramento’s celebration of Global Entrepreneurship Week—, the Mayor’s Office for Innovation and Entrepreneurship head Louis Stewart announced that the city would soon become the Sacramento Urban Technology Lab (SUTL). Inspired by Atlanta’s Technology Square, the city would be a hub for innovation and technology.

Triple Helix Innovation Model for Sacramento Urban Technology Lab (SUTL) 

Stewart is aware that the making of Sacramento Urban Technology Lab (SUTL) will take some time, citing the 20 years of development that it took for Atlanta’s Technology Square. He also explained that the Sacramento Urban Technology Lab uses the “triple helix” economic innovation model. The Triple Helix Stanford University thesis posits that economic development requires the combination of elements from the academia, industry and government to initiate social and institutional formats. This step will allow the transformation and application of knowledge. The Sacramento Urban Technology Lab (SUTL) will have seven focus areas: sustainability and clean tech, life sciences and health tech, food innovations, cybersecurity, civic and government tech, the Internet of Things (IoT), and workforce development.

The transformation will require a continuous effort from the community, building from the ground up and pushing innovations out the door. In truth, it would require years of collective work for a mentality of innovation to take root.

Moving Toward a Bold Vision

A practical example of this initiative is the use of the city or parts of it for autonomous vehicles. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg and other community leaders—including U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento)—support these initiatives in building Sacramento as a tech sector. Mayor Steinberg discussed the vision for the city as a place where new things happen and where the Sacramento Urban Technology Lab is not a single building or campus, but the entire city.

Notably, Stewart explained that the announcement does not mean that there would be funding for the projects. Instead, it was meant as a rallying cry for technology companies to make Sacramento a research and development area. The call puts a name to the area’s innovation economy with its numerous resources and the tech companies it encompasses.

a photo of the front of the Georgia Institute of Technology with the sign "Atlanta Technology Square" propped on top of the roof in relation to the topic of the Sacramento Urban Technology Lab
Indeed, making the Sacramento Urban Technology Lab (SUTL) a reality will take considerable time—like Atlanta’s Technology Square.

On the Aim of Attracting Companies

Markedly, the aim is to attract companies where they can use the city for testing, development and further scaling of technologies with the help of colleges and universities, startups, entrepreneurs, and tech businesses. The idea is to invite tech companies to experiment on Sacramento. Stewart is proud to say that the citizens welcome these innovations and to growing with these tech developments. It is not about selling the idea of Sacramento as a tech-friendly city that invites tech companies with financial benefits. Instead, with the Sacramento Urban Technology Lab (SUTL), the city is packaging itself as a place with an active role in pursuing a continuing discussion of technology—where the city’s identity integrates and influences innovation.

Currently, Sacramento is one of 11 cities in a 5G pilot program by Verizon meant to determine the use and roles of next-gen wireless technologies. The University of California, Davis—located just outside of Sacramento—gives the region an entryway towards funding for tech, as it raised $2.9 billion for research in 2015. It is one of the leading centers for agricultural technology. Other universities in the area include California State University Sacramento (CSU Sacramento) and the University of the Pacific with their own technology programs.

Boldly Looking Beyond the Now

On a related note: Another major aim of the Sacramento Urban Technology Lab (SUTL) is to encourage students from local—particularly, ones with cutting-edge tech programs—and entice them to stay after university. Providing homegrown talents with a venue to operate and share their expertise will aid in the success of SUTL.

Indeed, the Sacramento Urban Technology Lab (SUTL) aims to answer questions about technology and make bold innovations for the future. Current estimates of job loss between 38 percent and 50 percent would have to be offset by new jobs and technologies. Taking the initiative and creating the Sacramento Urban Technology Lab (SUTL) ensures that the region stays relevant as a place where people would want to work.

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