Qualcomm CEO Outlines Vision for Wireless Internet, Experts Explain Memjet’s Pluses and Minuses, Tech Coast Angels Slow Investment Activity, & More San Diego BizTech News

3/8/10Follow @bvbigelow

Qualcomm’s chairman and CEO says the San Diego wireless company is in the driver’s seat when it comes to setting the agenda for the wireless industry. We’re here to tell you what that means, so you don’t miss the on-ramp.

—When Paul Jacobs was named to head San Diego’s Qualcomm five years ago, the No. 3 son of Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs came across as a bit wonky. But Paul Jacobs is getting better at public speaking, as he demonstrated last week in a nearly hour-long presentation at the annual shareholders meeting, where he outlined Qualcomm’s vision for ubiquitous access to the wireless Internet. “We are the ones driving this,” he told the audience.

—I offered some insights into Memjet, a closely held startup developing new inkjet printing technologies, that I collected from some printer industry experts who preferred to remain anonymous. Len Lauer, who resigned as Qualcomm’s chief operating officer about three months ago, now heads Memjet in San Diego.

Investments by Southern California’s Tech Coast Angels and affiliated venture firms totaled $61.7 million in 2009, down about 18 percent from the $75 million that was invested in 2008. The network of individual investors put money into seven new deals and 17 follow-on deals last year. In 2008, the angels invested in 15 new deals and 16 follow-on rounds.

Awarepoint, which has developed a ZigBee-based sensor system to keep track of medical equipment in sprawling medical centers, said it has raised $10 million in a secondary venture round headed by JAFCO Ventures of Palo Alto, CA. Awarepoint’s system provides real-time monitoring of RFID (radio frequency identification) tags that are embedded in patient wristbands or attached to medical instruments.

The West Wireless Health Institute named former Cardinal Health strategist Amir Jafri as its new chief operating officer. The institute was created last year with a $45 million gift from the Gary and Mary West Foundation to accelerate the use of wireless technologies in health care and medicine.

—Last year’s inaugural La Jolla Research & Innovation Summit was a two-day extravaganza, but this year the event was held in just one day last week. One highlight: UC San Diego’s Joseph Ford described a new type of solar panel that offers the promise of much greater efficiency in converting sunlight directly into electricity.

The Founder Institute is recruiting entrepreneurs from San Diego and Orange counties for a second four-month class/startup boot camp, which is scheduled to begin April 6.

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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