Another step into the Innovista…

Mike Fitts chronicles this latest step toward achieving the potential of Innovista:

A company based on the engineering smarts at USC — in students and faculty — has been launched to commercialize that prowess.

SysEDA, a 10-employee company that provides engineering software, is moving into the USC Columbia Technology Incubator.

SysEDA’s software has been developed over the years principally by Roger Dougal, professor of electrical engineering at USC. Dougal estimates that about 50 students in the past 15 years have provided refinements to it, and many students in the engineering school use it regularly as part of the their work.

The software, called a Virtual Test Bed, is designed to simulate the inner workings of electrical engines. Once it is offered in the Internet “cloud,” it will allow different engineers from around the world to see how their proposed modifications to an engine affect the entire system before a prototype is built….

The company already has a client: the Office of Naval Research.

Dougal has worked with the Navy for more than a decade as it has explored electric power options for its ships. Now SysEDA has a $2.4 million contract to work with global engine giant ABB on such engines and design systems.

SysEDA is working with the incubator and is also receiving mentoring from Bang! Technologies, a company that specializes in boosting tech companies through their growth phases…

Congratulations to all involved as they take one of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of such steps that need to be taken for the Innovista to realize its potential over the next decade or two.

6 thoughts on “Another step into the Innovista…

  1. Mark Stewart

    Now that’s the way the Innovista should have been played! Progress is a slow, relentless slog. These small steps are the way forward.

    Potemkin villages are just that – fakery. As in the physical idea of an “Innovista”.

    Since the USC Law School is still homeless, maybe the University could repurpose Innovista for the Law School? They could build the structurally exotic parts of the school’s design program into new construction on the empty lot on Assembly. It wouldn’t be hard to renovate a mostly empty office building for the rest of the School’s needs.

    Then, the University could take the darn sinkhole off the State’s hands – doing every tax-payer a big favor while getting the Law School into the digs it deserved a long time ago. Just sayin’ . . .

  2. Doug Ross

    Yeah, we could have built Innovista 10 employees at a time instead of blowing $100+ million.

    And lets not forget the hyrdogen economy that is going to turn Columbia into the next Silicon Valley. How’s that working out?

  3. Brad

    Guys, this is kinda always the way I envisioned the Innovista. Y’all must have heard different briefings than I did back when this thing was getting started.

    I saw it as a multilateral thing involving all kinds of players, big and small, from garage-sized tech startups to residential and commercial developments to cater to the people who would work there.

    It’s a shame that everybody’s gotten so hung up on those spec buildings. Sure, something like that might contribute, might kick-start something, but the real Innovista, to me, would not occur in those buildings. It would be a way of life and work and research and commerce going on in that region roughly defined by the river, the new baseball park, the current USC campus and the southern reaches of the current development in the Vista.

    It’s just an enormous asset we have, or rather a double asset: The state’s flagship research university located downtown in a beautiful urban setting, and then, right next to it, a largely undeveloped (or in need of redevelopment) stretch of urban real estate that spreads down to the enviable treasure of a undeveloped riverfront, right in the heart of the city.

    Nobody has that, anywhere. And we’re crazy not to encourage those assets to reach their full potential. And to me, that’s what the Innovista concept is about.

  4. Mark Stewart

    Brad, you are talking about the blueprint for the city and university. The vision is a great thing. No other city has such an undeveloped riverfront. At the same time, Columbia faces hurdles with the railroads and the power lines along the riverbank. Will the region’s citizens subsidize relocating SCE&G’s powerlines (we should)? But the massive pipedream of the office and lab buildings was pure folly. We are not the only state to be taken by the sales pitch, however. Many universities pushed this over the last decade.

    Ignoring that tens of millions of dollars sit unutilized is not in anyone’s best interests. It’s time to move on to plan B. While the buildings will eventually be reused, it surely won’t be as expensive lab space. Or related office uses.

    Innovista needs to be the vision – and it deserves the region’s support – but the buildings are in need of a different kind of more pragmatic vision.

  5. Kathryn Fenner

    Duncan Buell, immediate past chair of the Computer Science and Engineering department at USC and erstwhile acting dean of the Engineering School pointed out the folly behind “build it and they will come” before the buildings were built. He also pushed less specialized buildings. He was ignored.

    We need to make the best use of what we’ve got now. The Vista took a while to take off, too. The economy hasn’t helped, nor a Governor who is opposed to the concept.

  6. You Talkin' to Me?

    It’s more than spec buildings that people are upset about. It’s mismanagement like the Parks / Roscoe fiasco, and it’s disingenuous statements by the university about how money from revenues and the endowment can and should be used. (When the USC endowment found $900K between the couch cushions to pay Kale Roscoe to go away, the head of the endowment was quoted as saying he had no idea what else the money could have been spent on. See for yourself at ) Even if state budget cuts are to blame for tuition spikes, bigger classes, frozen or eroded staff benefits, and other funding problems — and I believe they can — the public and the legislature will not be sympathetic when this kind of nonsense has been going on.


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