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Island of Innovation

The still at St. George Spirits

Alameda may be the home of the pop-sickle and the squeegee, but as of late, the City’s most noteworthy innovations have come with a more high-tech flair. From biomedicine to renewable energy to fine foods, Alameda’s businesses have won and been nominated for several innovation awards. Each of the innovative companies featured below are representative of emerging clusters of new and exciting businesses locating across the island.

A Finger on the Pulse in Harbor Bay

Harbor Bay Business Park is where the heart is. The 41-acre park is home to two industry leaders for cardiovascular disease management and prevention. Singulex is the innovator behind the Erenna Immuoassay System, which helps over a quarter million patients annually by identifying biomarkers associated with risks of heart attacks and strokes. Penumbra is a medical device manufacturer specializing in neurovascular equipment that helps patients who have had, or are at risk of, a stroke. Both businesses have grown exponentially over the past decade and today employ over 600 people. Singulex was honored as a finalist for an East Bay EDA Innovation Award in 2014, the same award that Penumbra won in 2013.

The Point: Clean Energy Companies Thrive

In the windswept former aircraft control tower building on Alameda Point’s waterfront, two green energy businesses are quietly changing the way we utilize hydro and wind power. Natel Energy makes low head hydropower turbines that work on dams as low as five feet, significantly expanding the range of viable sites. This has major implications for potential and existing dams across the world, where Natel’s hydroEngine can be easily installed and maintained to produce cost effective water-to-wire power without disturbing wildlife. Sharing the building with Natel is Makani Power, which has recently been acquired by Google’s research division, Google X. Makani has developed its high altitude wind turbines at Alameda Point since 2006, and is working on a product that would produce wind energy at costs well below those of coal-fired power plants.

Mangia! Alameda

The artisanal food and beverage movement might be new to some, but to the founders of Alameda’s St. George Spirits, it is what they have been living and breathing for the past 30 years. St. George Spirits produces gin, bourbon, and a variety of spirits that continue to win critical acclaim. The beverage cluster around St. George on Alameda Point’s Spirits Alley also includes Rockwall Wine Company and newcomer Faction Brewing, all of which offer public tasting rooms in unique environments. Across the Island, in Harbor Bay Business Park, another cluster has emerged with bakeries and a coffee roaster. Semifreddi’s bakes almost 200,000 artisanal loaves a week, and distributes them throughout the Bay Area on a daily basis. Close neighbors include Donsuemor, which makes gourmet madeleines and biscotti, and Peet’s Coffee roastery, which ships loads of fresh beans within hours of roasting.

Saildrone Around the Globe

In a big hangar on Alameda Point a small team of engineers and boat builders is taking a stab at the $2.5 trillion a year ocean surface industries. Saildrone is less than five years old and has already sailed its unmanned robotic vessel from the Bay to Hawaii, much faster than its closest competitor. The 19-foot vessel requires no continual monitoring and will self-adjust its course to reach a set destination using only solar powered electronics including GPS, and an ingenious carbon fiber wing. At first glance, the wing may remind an observer of the ultra high-tech Artemis Racing yachts that are also built in an Alameda Point hangar, but where the America’s Cup ships are reminiscent of traditional sails, the Saildrone is more akin to an airplane.