Local Startup Culture Tied to Bay Area VCs, AirHop Looks to Next-Generation Wireless, SDG&E Strikes Out in Bid for Grant, & More San Diego BizTech News

11/30/09Follow @bvbigelow

For a week shortened by the Thanksgiving holiday, we still had lots of news about venture funding deals, views on startup failures and San Diego’s innovation culture, and Qualcomm getting a reprieve from European regulators. Get our rundown of the local tech news you need to know:

—I conducted an informal poll on local attitudes toward startup failures and discovered to my surprise that many VCs and entrepreneurs think of San Diego as a venture annex of the Bay Area. Some folks also view San Diego’s entrepreneurs as less intense about their pre-launch preparations than their counterparts in Boston, for example.

—In our first tally of “under-the-radar” deals for San Diego, we counted five technology startups that secured financing in October that ranged from $100,000 to $1 million, according to New York financial data provider ChubbyBrain. Heading our list was Proximetry, followed by Chimeros, Tour Engine, ImThera, and Great Call.

—San Diego cleantech startup Fallbrook Technologies, which is developing a continuously variable vehicle transmission that needs no gears, raised another $4 million from investors in a secondary round of funding. Fallbrook raised $25.4 million in venture funding earlier this year.

AirHop Communications, which raised $1 million from individual investors in October, is developing software needed to optimize the mobile data rates of next-generation 4G wireless networks. AirHop’s founding CEO, Yan Hui, told me his company’s software is needed because the structure of 4G networks will be much more dense, with overlapping cell coverage and radio interference problems that don’t exist with current wireless networks. But 4G technologies will also offer data rates of 100 megabits per second, compared with existing data rates of 3 to 7.2 megabits per second with 3G wireless networks.

—Plans by San Diego Gas & Electric to install smart grid technologies throughout the regional power grid will move forward, but at a slower pace since the Department of Energy just passed over its $100 million grant application. The electric utility operated by San Diego-based Sempra Energy plans to regroup by prioritizing its funding for a host of smart grid projects, which include integrating renewable energy systems into the power grid.

European Union antitrust regulators announced that they are dropping an investigation into the licensing practices of Qualcomm, the San Diego wireless giant. Complaints about exorbitant royalty fees that phone makers paid to use Qualcomm technology in faster 3G wireless networks throughout Europe triggered the probe. Earlier this year, South Korea’s fair trade commission fined Qualcomm $208 million over the way it charges royalties to companies that use competitors’ wireless chips instead of Qualcomm’s.


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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