Steinbeck Innovation Project Unites Region in Race to the Top
DEC. 14, 2012 11:30am
Erin Fogg 831-402-0871 | 

Mayor to Launch Steinbeck Innovation Cluster

New model introduces Smart Farms to transform Steinbeck Country

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Friday, December 14
 | 11:00am-Noon

Maya Cinemas
| 153 Main Street
Salinas, CA 93901

Reception and interview opportunities to follow at the National Steinbeck Center.
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SALINAS, CA - Salinas' visionary Mayor Dennis Donohue will deliver his farewell address this Friday, officially introducing a groundbreaking public-private economic development initiative that is building the Steinbeck Innovation Cluster to revolutionize not only the way the region does business, but how the region itself is defined.

The Steinbeck Innovation Cluster will standup dozens of new businesses and foster the creation of thousands of new jobs over the next five years, galvanizing Steinbeck Country's agricultural industry, educational resources, and innovative drive to build local prosperity and cultivate a competitive industry focused on solving the world’s food, water and energy-related challenges. The Steinbeck Cluster is based on four pillars of activity: Education, Incubation, Investment, and Corporate Engagement.

The Steinbeck Innovation Cluster has already begun training hundreds of local youth through its successful CodeDojo Salinas, a youth coding initiative started this fall in partnership with Hartnell College, the City of Salinas, and Salinas City Library. CoderDojo is a component of the Cluster’s innovation strategy, focused on education, entrepreneurial training, and advanced research.

The Cluster will launch the region’s first Kauffman Foundation entrepreneurship program in January 2013. The Steinbeck Innovation Cluster has engaged prominent partnerships across Steinbeck Country, including an MOU with CSUMB and a growing partnership with Hartnell College, both focused on advanced research programs related to Smart Farms.

Mayor Donohue co-founded the initiative with Irish-born Silicon Valley based entrepreneur and investor John Hartnett, of SVG Partners. Mr. Hartnett has over 25 years of executive-level experience leading global technology companies, including Palm, Handspring, Metacreations, Claris/Apple.

"The world’s innovation experts have been focused on Smart Cities. We’re shifting that focus to Smart Farms," says Mr. Hartnett. "We see a future for precision agriculture, viticulture and aquaculture in which our farms and watersheds will become centers for innovation that will change the way we address the world’s water, energy, waste and labor challenges. Smart Farms and Smart Vineyards will use the latest technology and smart innovation for a better future."

The City of Salinas played an integral role in initially convening the founders and task force responsible for birthing this unique initiative. The Steinbeck Innovation Cluster is now a partnership of city government, local business, corporate interests, academic institutions and philanthropic organizations. The City of Salinas and a powerful task force of public-private partners, dubbed the Steinbeck Committee, began working with Hartnett and Donohue on the Cluster in May of this year.

The strategy and concept of the Steinbeck Innovation Cluster was inspired by the work of Capt. Wayne Porter, USN, co-author of “A National Strategic Narrative.”  Expanding upon concepts of industrial clusters (first proposed by Harvard economist Michael Porter) and modern system science, Capt. Porter has argued that the Central Coast / Salinas Valley (Steinbeck Country) has most of the key characteristics found in successful industrial clusters internationally – a confluence of academic and research institutions, a strong core commercial competency, institutions of higher learning to support an educated labor and professional base, a strong community with positive work ethic, and investment capital interested in technological growth.

Learn more about the Steinbeck Innovation Cluster, its business model, partners and programs at

About the Steinbeck Innovation Cluster
The Steinbeck Innovation Cluster is leveraging its innovative Steinbeck Innovation Model, and powerful network of civic, academic, technological, corporate, and philanthropic partners, to help our region’s youth become entrepreneurs, to drive innovation in our fields and factories, and to bring high tech to our industrial zones. The organization is run by a four-member founding board of directors, that includes designated seats for Salinas' City Manager and business representatives, and is supported by a twenty-member Steinbeck Committee with representatives from regional business, academic, nonprofit and trade organizations. Learn more at

About SVG Partners
SVG Partners is a management consulting and investment firm that partners with public and private organizations on strategy, innovation and global expansion. Based in Silicon Valley and Ireland with a global network of technology executives and partners processing an unmatched perspective on the competitive landscape, industry trends and game-changing opportunities. For more information contact or +1-408-380-7200 or visit

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