Duane Roth: The Connector Who Wired Up a Regional Innovation Economy
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its financial support.
So Roth stepped in as a turnaround CEO, and one of his first moves was to uncouple Connect from UC San Diego. Instead of promoting innovation at UCSD, he broadened Connect’s mission by making the group more of a non-partisan advocate for innovation throughout the region. He began to forge links with all of San Diego’s elite research institutions—and in the process learned there were more than 60 of them throughout the region.
It was a logical move, but Roth’s prominence in the life sciences and high-level contacts enabled him to establish strong ties with The Scripps Research Institute, the Salk Institute, and what is now the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute. Along with those connections came new stakeholders and new investors, Walshok said.
Once California voters approved a 2004 ballot proposition that authorized the issuance of $3 billion in grants for stem cell R&D, Walshok said Roth also played a key role in bringing together UCSD, Scripps, Salk, and Sanford-Burnham to create the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine. In fact, Walshok doubts whether anyone but Duane Roth could have brought the four major research centers together.
“Duane in my mind was exceptional at making connections,” said Rear Adm. Dixon Smith, who recently completed an 18-month tour in San Diego as commander of the Navy Region Southwest, overseeing 10 naval bases in six Southwestern states (California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico). In a phone call from his new command in Norfolk, VA, Smith added, “He saw connections that other people didn’t, and he knew how to put people together to create win-win situations.”
Roth’s knack for seeing opportunities and putting people together helped to foster some unexpected synergies in such emerging industries as wireless health, cleantech, and a regional cluster of action sports companies, according to Walshok. He also led efforts to … Next Page »