Spotlight on Pasadena: A Community of Technology


Increasingly, businesses in the high-tech sector are discovering the advantages of locating in Pasadena. The City is home to the California Institute of Technology, which provides a world-class intellectual resource and a positive environment for technology commercialization.

With their faculty receiving many of the world’s prestigious science awards and recently being selected by U.S. New and World report as the Nation’s top ranked University, Caltech’s reputation only seems to be getting stronger. However, behind the most familiar Caltech facts such as the number of Nobel prizes, is the report from the U.S. Department of Commerce. This report states that Caltech received the third most patents of any institution of higher learning in the country last year (93) trailing only the nine campus UC system (395) and M.I.T. (138). Stanford received 79. For a University its size, Caltech’s performance in generating intellectual capital and transferring technology bodes well for the City’s economic future.

Business Growth.

Many tech industry giants can trace their beginnings to Pasadena. Intel, Xerox, TRW, and Amgen are some of the key companies that first evolved on Caltech’s campus. Today, Pasadena is home to several other leaders. Separately, Earthlink and idealab! have positioned themselves as major forces in internet access, content, and services.

Five years ago, Earthlink moved to Pasadena as a company with less than 200 people. Starting with 40,000 square feet, the internet service provider grew quickly and now is positioned as the second largest ISP and has more than 250,000 square feet in Pasadena. The recent merger with Mindspring will bring Earthlink’s payroll to 4,000 employees.

idealab! has also experienced tremendous success in Pasadena. This “grandfather” of all incubators has graduated a wide variety of new companies., Ticketmaster Online, City Search,,, are among the other idealab! graduates that have located within Pasadena’s dynamic central business district.

Gemstar International, the founder of VCR plus and the recent buyer of TV Guide has also been experiencing rapid growth in downtown Pasadena. Others include Tanner Research, Pl-x, Pivotal Technologies, Acacia, Integrated Micro Machines, and Enfish Technology.

Meeting High-Tech Needs

Just south of the activities in the central district, lies a growing technology corridor anchored by Huntington Memorial Hospital. The tech corridor is within walking distance of Caltech and has been promoted to further assist the development of high-tech companies. The first 25,000 square foot lab building in the corridor was completed in late 1998, providing opportunities in modern research space. Another 90,000 square foot lab building and concept and received final design approval from the City.

Using entitlement incentives from the City of Pasadena and a certified EIR allowing for 1.2 million new square feet of commercial space, this corridor promises to become an exciting location for many research intensive companies. In addition, a unique development opportunity exists on an 8-acre portion of the Pasadena Water and Power plant site, where a combination of renovation and new construction could provide for a large development.

Successful Startups

To assist in the advancement of many start-up companies, Pasadena is also home to other business incubators. These incubators assist start-up and growing companies in high-technology fields. Acacia Calstart and the Business Technology Center are key players in the further development of the area’s high-tech companies.

Calstart, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advanced transportation technologies, helps start-up companies work to improve air quality, energy efficiency, and consumer commercial mobility. Calstart uses technology from the aerospace, electronics, automotive, and defense industries to feed the ideas of its start-up companies.

Similarly, the Business Technology Center of Los Angeles County, located one block across the northern border of Pasadena in Altadena, was constructed in a state enterprise zone to serve as a lucrative resource for start-up companies. The 40,000 square foot building has state-of-the-art technology infrastructure, making it a viable location for high-tech businesses looking to capitalize on emerging business opportunities. Covexa, Bestwebboys, Galaxynet, Mandrake Software, Qwiptech, and iapplications tech are some of the tenants.

Looking Forward

Pasadena boasts the advantages necessary for the future of high-tech businesses. Pasadena’s history of education and ingenuity combine with its local resources for the creation and growth of businesses. In addition to the physical infrastructure, such as a City-wide fiberoptic loop, the impressive business and institutional network in Pasadena provide critical resources for high-tech firms.

Eric Duyshart and Brian Wallace are with the City of Pasadena. (

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