The Irvine City Council unanimously approved a Letter of Intent at its Tuesday, Sept. 12, meeting to work with Sunstone Management, Inc. in creation of an Irvine Accelerator for early-stage, high-tech entrepreneurs.
The proposal came from Irvine Mayor Farrah Khan after a year of discussions with the Irvine Innovation Council and Sunstone Management principals. John Shen, founder of Sunstone, is an original member of the Innovation Council.
“I am thrilled that the City is partnering with Sunstone on the Irvine Accelerator,” Mayor Khan said. “This public-private partnership which formed as a product of my Innovation Council, of which John Shen is a founding member, will provide opportunities benefitting our local startup ecosystem.”
Sunstone is a diversified private capital management firm headquartered in Irvine that focuses on early-stage venture capital. It was one of the founding partners of the Long Beach Accelerator, established in 2019.
“In September 2022, the City Council directed me and Vice Mayor (Tammy) Kim to work with staff on developing an economic development program that would identify Irvine as the premier location in the region for individuals seeking to found and establish high-tech and future focused business ventures,” Mayor Khan said introducing the motion. “The City Council direction specifically identified that development of this particular program should be coordinated in partnership where feasible with my Innovation Council.”
Eric Romero, Sunstone’s Director of Economic Development, led the early talks and appeared before the Irvine Council on Sept. 12.
“Our company is excited by the opportunity to work with the City of Irvine, local organizations and community leaders to establish the Irvine Accelerator and fill an important gap in the entrepreneurial ecosystem,” he told the City Council. “The Irvine Accelerator will accelerate the growth of early-stage technology companies in Irvine by delivering a cohort-based program that will provide workshops, mentorship, subject-matter expertise and funding. We believe the Irvine Accelerator will be an economic driver for the City and the region by further strengthening Irvine’s brand as a vibrant startup hub, growing local businesses, attracting new businesses and creating high-quality jobs.”
Irvine is a City of more than 300,000 people with a median household income of $114,000. It is considered the fastest growing City in California and was the 13th largest City in the state in 2022. It is home to the University of California, Irvine, which boasts the UCI Beall Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship as part of the Paul Merage School of Business.
“Our philosophy is Founder-focused, and we are strong believers in partnerships between government and private industry,” said John Keisler, CEO and managing partner at Sunstone Management. “This opportunity to work with Irvine to create new resources for entrepreneurs in Southern California is an exciting opportunity and an honor.”
Next steps include creation of a formal working group, develop and approve a formal Memorandum of Understanding, establish the nonprofit organization and start fundraising to support operations.
About Sunstone Management
Sunstone Management is a diversified private capital management firm with headquarters in Southern California that provides a range of early-stage venture capital, real estate and fixed income funds to qualified and accredited investors. The firm delivers new and exciting options for economic growth through innovative public-private partnerships, making use of its unique experience across government, education and private sectors. Identified by Financial Times as one of America’s Fastest Growing Companies three years in a row. Ranked 18th in the United States on the list of most active venture capital firms by PitchBook.
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