Wireless Industry Foresees Capacity Constraints, Algae-Based Biofuels Still a Decade Away, Xconomy San Diego Marks its First Anniversary, & More San Diego BizTech News

10/13/09Follow @bvbigelow

The big story out of the International CTIA Wireless IT & Entertainment expo in San Diego last week could perhaps be summed up in one word: “spectrum.” We also have reports from the Algae Biofuels Summit and other big news, so read on.

—Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs and his son Paul, who is now chairman and CEO of the San Diego wireless giant, told CTIA goers that Qualcomm’s labs have reached the limit in terms of optimizing the efficiencies of wireless devices within current radio bands. Yet demand continues to accelerate for mobile data services. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a different session that finding more spectrum is the agency’s No. 1 priority. “Spectrum is oxygen,” Genachowski said.

—In a report that preceded the CTIA conference, Seattle-based Ontela released a survey that shows people still have problems doing simple things like transmitting photos on their mobile phones, even as the popularity of mobile data plans and services such as text messaging continue to grow in the U.S.

—Denise gave us a preview of the 3rd Annual Algae Biomass Summit, which also was held in San Diego last week. Cleantech San Diego president Lisa Bicker said more than 625 cleantech companies are now based in the region, including more than 30 algae biofuels companies.

—At a time when investment capital has been pouring into the development of algae-based biofuels, Bill Barclay of Columbia, MD-based Martek Biosciences said it could take a decade or more for commercial-scale algae biofuels production to become reality. Scientists still need to identify the best algae strains, optimize production processes, and find the best ways to convert “green crude” to fuels.

—San Diego-based Achates Power has raised $12.1 million out of a $20 million venture round, according to a regulatory filing. The company has been developing a radical new design for a high-efficiency two-stroke automotive engine.

—We’ve been too busy to do much celebrating, but Xconomy’s San Diego website officially marked its one-year anniversary last week. In the past year, we’ve published more than 1,400 news stories, briefs, and commentaries about the innovation leaders, businesses, technologies, and trends that make up the “exponential” part of the San Diego economy. Thanks to all our readers for their great comments.

—While the Obama Administration continues to push its plans for healthcare reform, Gary West is refining his own plans for using the new San Diego-based West Wireless Health Institute to catalyze innovations in wireless health that help deliver healthcare equivalent to what’s generally available today at lower cost. The non-profit institute, which was funded in March by a $45 million donation from the Gary and Mary West Foundation, ranks as one of the first organizations in the world to seek improvements in healthcare specifically through advances in wireless technologies.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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