Smartphone Demand Powers Qualcomm Results, Soitec Makes Case for Solar Project, West Wireless Recasts Its Mission, & More San Diego BizTech News

4/25/11Follow @bvbigelow

The director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center says digital information is increasing exponentially, which is helping to fuel demand for smartphones and tablet computers, and that is driving Qualcomm’s financial performance. We’ve got a week’s worth of details for you here.

—San Diego’s Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) is on a phenomenal tear. Driven by increased global adoption of 3G smartphones and soaring demand for the iPad and other tablet computers, Qualcomm’s financial performance exceeded analysts’ estimates for the second fiscal quarter that ended March 27. The company reported nearly $1 billion in profits (up 29 percent year-over-year) on $3.88 billion in sales (up 46 percent year-over-year). Qualcomm also raised its fiscal 2011 earnings and revenue forecasts for the second time this year. Sales of mobile devices with Qualcomm-licensed components increased 44 percent over the same quarter last year, and the company itself sold 27 percent more wireless chipsets.

Soitec Chairman and CEO André-Jacques Auberton-Hervé briefed reporters in San Diego last week about the company’s plans to supply CPV (concentrating photovoltaic) solar panels for a 150-megawatt solar plant in the desert east of San Diego. The project proposed by Tenaska Solar Ventures for use mostly by San Diego Gas & Electric has an estimated price-tag of $500 million. Soitec also has proposed building a factory in San Diego that will create about 450 CPV manufacturing jobs, but much depends on the proposed Tenaska project winning a federal loan guarantee.

—Can we talk… about health care costs? The West Wireless Health Institute is hosting its second Health Care Innovation Day Thursday at The Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington DC. The institute has organized the event in keeping with its mission to accelerate low cost health care solutions through innovation. There is no fee or charge to attend the event, which is to policy makers, regulators, industry executives, and technology specialists.

—Speaking of the nonprofit West Wireless Health Institute, CEO Don Casey discussed how the institute has moved over the past year to recast itself as an independent and honest arbiter in the industry by shedding some commercial initiatives, parting with some senior executives, and cutting some industry ties. As part of that process, the institute has moved to distance itself from Qualcomm, which is no longer identified as a founding sponsor and no longer has a seat on the institute’s board of directors.

—In a presentation at Connect’s Third Annual La Jolla Research & Innovation Summit, the director of UC San Diego’s San Diego Computer Center said the amount of digital data generated by such instruments as DNA sequencers, cameras, telescopes, and MRIs is now doubling every 18 months. “Digital data is advancing at least as fast, and probably faster, than Moore’s Law,” said Michael Norman, who became the center’s new director in September.

Dow Jones VentureSource released its survey on venture capital activity during the first quarter, showing that VCs invested $6.4 billion into 661 startups nationwide. That’s a 35 percent increase in capital and a 5 percent rise in deals over the same period last year, and the biggest gain among three recent surveys of venture activity. In San Diego, Dow Jones VentureSource showed nearly $214 million was invested in 26 deals during the first three months of this year.

—Japan’s Kyocera International named Yasuhiro Oishi as president of San Diego-based Kyocera Communications, a subsidiary that provides the sales, marketing, customer engineering and service functions for Kyocera- and Sanyo-branded wireless devices in the Americas. Oishi replaces Eiichi Toriyama, who served as KCI’s president since 2008 and accepts a new role as KCI’s chairman.

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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