Earlier this week, Tech America hosted the 19th annual Orange County High Tech Innovation Awards.

The High-Tech Innovation Awards “recognizes outstanding achievements and innovation by Orange County and Inland Empire’s technology leaders”. Orange County has one of the most diverse technology environments in the nation with more than 600 biomedical and information technology companies, which employ close to 100,000 people.

One of the highlights of my evening was being able to enjoy dinner with Albert Wong, one of the co-founders of AST Research, which grew from a tiny startup in 1980 to a multi-billion dollar Fortune 500 company in the mid 1990’s. In 1991, AST was the best performing stock on the NASDAQ. Revenues hit $2.3 billion in 1995 before ultimately selling to Samsung 1996. At the other side of our table, sat AST co-founder Safi Qureshey, both there to support their friend and AST co-founder, Thomas C.K. Yuen.

Mr. Yuen won the distinguished lifetime achievement award, and his SRS Labs, Inc., which was recently sold to DTS for $148 million, was selected as the most innovative award winner in the software category. In a brief conversation, Mr. Yuen shared with me that he will now be shifting his attention and energy to finding and creating solutions through leveraging adult stem cells, or what he labeled “super cells”. His research company ReproCyte, was founded in 2002, and is currently working on solutions for Alport Syndrome and Parkinson’s Disease.

Gordon Campbell from the Jet Propulsion Lab gave a fascinating keynote about frontiers of innovation and exploration and highlighting the “science fiction morphing into reality” mission of the Curiosity Rover, currently in process.

I had a great chat with Matt Miller, CEO of eco startup Green Box Economic Recyclers, Inc., the winners of the Harvey Mudd College Green Engineering Award, who has created a business model that makes recycling electronics easy for consumers, and profitable for the company.

Feyzi Fatehi, Chief Executive Officer of Corent Technology, Inc. shared a little of his story with me about how his company is helping software vendors transition to cloud computing by cost effectively converting traditional software applications to multi-tenant SaaS applications.

Orange County startup, Treehouse Tykes, a finalist in the Internet E-Commerce category blends a few growing trends together: flash sales, and donations to social good causes and organizations with aims at improving the communities of their community members. It leverages a growing and innovative model similar to other fast growing Orange County startups and hybrid organizations like Sevenly, 31 Bits, Krochet Kids, and International Princess Project (Disclaimer: I am on the board of IPP). All provide more evident clues that the trend of hybrid organizations is growing as many of our traditional institutions are being rewired.

A big congratulations to all the winners and finalists. Hats off to Cara Stewart and the entire team that pulled off for a great local event.

The full list of winners is below.

Winners:

Microsemi, Outstanding Technology Company
Corent Technology, Cloud Computing
Lantronix, Hardware
HireRight, E-Commerce
BIOLASE, Medical Devices
Broadcom, Semiconductors
SRS Labs, Software
Smith Micro, Telecommunications
GreenBox Electronic Recyclers, Harvey Mudd College Green Engineering Award

Scott McGregor, Broadcom, Outstanding CEO
Paul A. Holt, Quality Systems, Inc., Outstanding Tech Finance Executive

Several students and teachers were recognized with the Project Tomorrow Innovation Awards.

  • Cynthia

    Thanks for the great follow-up on OC Tech America Awards, it’s nice to see you have your thumb on the pulse. Keep up the great work!