MADIA Tech Report: High Tech Abounds in Our ‘Burbs

By Brenda J. Trainor

When the average person thinks of tech communities, a place like Silicon Valley immediately comes to mind. But it is right here in the heart of the San Gabriel Valley where one can find many science and technology companies that research, design, develop, manufacture, and innovate using sophisticated technologies. 

These sometimes-unknown examples of tech success are spotlighted by MADIA Tech Launch, a nonprofit organization that supports the innovative and often entrepreneurial careers, companies, and industries engaged in technical, scientific, and manufacturing functions operating in cities around the intersection of the 210 and 605 freeways.

So, who are these cool, geeky companies? In the last year, MADIA Tech Launch shone a spotlight on technology institutions and companies at monthly meetings, that like so many group events in 2020, evolved into virtual Zoom productions because of COVID-19 safety restrictions.

The most recent Zoom meeting was related to the 2020 novel coronavirus pandemic with a presentation about the development at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory of an affordable ventilator design that got federal approval in record time.

The last social gathering presentation (pre-COVID) was from Randy Heyler of Coherent, Inc. who provided details about the progression of Ondax, a formerly-small, Monrovia-based start-up engaged in the development of lasers and photonics producing optical measuring tools, into a new phase of existence as a unit of Coherent, a large international corporation.

Several biotech operations have also been showcased to MADIA participants as the region is home to many medical and health research organizations with very active technology transfer and commercialization programs.  Among those participating with MADIA are Oak Crest Institute of Science, Lab Launch, Pathways to Stem Cell Science, TCRCure Biopharma Corp, Tanner Research, and the City of Hope.

Participants at MADIA events can learn about a wide range of technologies operating in the area. In addition to the many scientific research and biotech organizations, additional tech specializations include software development, engineering, energy, and entrepreneurial operations: and all have strong examples in this local high-tech community. NextGate is a records management company on Huntington Drive that hosted a MADIA meet-up. Speakers from Duarte-based Propellerhead Inc provide key communications strategies for entrepreneurs to talk with investors and bankers. Alternative energy sources are explored and explained by officials from Alionyx Energy Systems.

Founded in 2014 with the support of five cities (Monrovia, Arcadia, Duarte, Irwindale, and Azusa), MADIA Tech Launch recently added a sixth municipal partner, Glendora, to its cohort. The organization provides networking opportunities among public officials, economic development professionals, corporate and finance executives as well as entrepreneurs and students. With the abundance of educational opportunities in this area (the Metro Gold Line corridor with its current terminus at APU/Citrus College is oft-promoted as “The Brain Train”), MADIA enjoys the energy from career tech students in the area from many institutions including Caltech, Keck Graduate School of Medicine, Citrus College, and Azusa Pacific University. It costs nothing to be a part of MADIA, simply visit the website to sign up and follow events via LinkedIn, Facebook, and YouTube.  

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