Paul Simonds, Southern
California Gas Company; Demea Metcalf, Irvine Chamber of Commerce; Lisa
Woolery, Wells Fargo; Wendy Haase, Destination Irvine; Sam Murray, Managease,
Inc.; Kate Klimow, Assistant Vice Chancellor, University of California, Irvine;
Linda DiMario, Destination Irvine; Tallia Hart, Irvine Chamber of Commerce; Dan
Han, Ignite Payments Agape; Terry Winkler, DI blogger; Bruce Greenberg, The GDR
"Oh, wow!" Bruce Greenberg exclaimed after seeing
"Innovation Rocks!" for the first time.
He and other members of the Irvine Chamber of Commerce got their first
look at the freshly painted Destination Irvine Rose Parade float last Wednesday
at Phoenix Decorating Company in Pasadena.
His reaction reflected that of the other folks present, but how does a
float about innovation relate to the innovation happening in Irvine every
day? We put that question to Matt
Bailey, Chief Collaboration Strategist for UCI Applied Innovation at The Cove
and also found out a bit about the new space for innovative collaboration at
At the Rose Palace float barn, Chris Lofthouse, President/CEO
of Phoenix, told the Irvine group, "You've seen it in an 8x10 rendering. It's going to be pretty exciting in three
dimensions." And it was. "It's spectacular," Linda DiMario said. "It brings the "Innovation Rocks!" theme to
Though most of the paint on the whimsical float is in bold
colors, fine detail is apparent in the fine lines for the pages of the books
and the feathering of colors on the flowers.
Indicating where to put the colorful flowers and dry materials is one of
the reasons floats are painted so carefully.
"Innovation Rocks!" is pretty well done until December, when the
botanical materials will be applied.
As Sam Murray enthused, "I think it's huge and incredibly
tall! The fact that it's painted now,
you can see how the flowers go on."
Peter the Anteater, mascot of UCI, towers over the float to
a height of nearly 17 feet with lovely blue fur and a white lab coat. The coiled tubes on the side rise higher than
that and must be folded down to leave the barn and later go under the 210
"We love Peter the
Anteater and are awful proud that the float is telling the world how great
Irvine is," Kate Klimow said. "It's a
great ambassador for UCI." Noting that
2015 is UCI's 50th anniversary year, she said, "It's great to share
the party with the world."
With its strong theme of science and invention, "Innovation
Rocks!" reflects the community of Irvine itself and puts that message in front
of 80 million viewers. A float is really
a picture book that tells a story in 30 seconds as it rolls along the parade
In a phone interview, Matt Bailey opined, "It's certainly an
interesting way to do it. The story
about all the great things happening here gets lost. Often things happen in Irvine, technology or
innovation, and it's hard to tell a story about. If it were Uber or Tinder, it might be easier
to talk about. There's a lot of hard
science here and businesses happening around that. It's important for the local community and
people outside Irvine to understand what's happening in Irvine."
One thing that happened in Irvine, Klimow said, is that the
HTTP internet protocol that enables billions of people to surf the web was
invented at UCI. "There's a whole center
of innovation in Irvine," she said. "It
has a global presence."
Daniel Han, taking in the height of the float in this photo,
surveyed the creation and poked around in the driver's compartment. "It's phenomenal," he said. "To me, it's a dream come true to even be
here." The first memory Han has of
America after he came at the age of six was watching the Rose Parade on
television with his family.
At right in the photo, Demea Metcalf is snapping pictures
with her phone. "I'm blown away! I think it's so bright and colorful." She's
excited about the float because, after all, "It's the Rose Parade!"
"I think it's a perfect representation of the City of
Irvine," Greenberg added. "It's flowers,
education, technology. It's why we all
work here." It's also why students
choose to attend UCI. The
innovation-themed float ties together the aspirations and offerings of the
community and the university.
Bailey said, "If Irvine is known for anything, somebody saw
it on a list of safest places to live. That's
great, but I think it's not all that inspiring for young people. There is a lot of opportunity here. It's a great university." He wants people to know that it's a place for
experimentation, a safe place to fail, learn, and succeed. "It's a great environment," he said.
Most folks likely know about the Rose Parade, but it's
unlikely they are familiar with one of the newest innovations at UCI, Applied
Innovation at The Cove. The Cove is
dedicated to technology transfer-getting inventors, innovators, entrepreneurs,
and investors in the same space to collaborate and get new technology to market
faster and ensuring that intellectual property is protected.. The doors opened just two weeks ago. "Six months ago, we were dry walling," Bailey
"The Cove is the first step there is to creating a space where
people can get together. It's 31,000
square feet of space in a research park that's dedicated to building a
community or microcosm of the university ecosystem.... It's fun, it's got a good
energy to it. It's about making
"The hard science piece is happening at the university. We take it and try to get it implemented, out
into the world, We take all the great
innovation and apply it to something, turn it into something real in the world." One of the ideas is to foster an environment
where people from the university and the community can bump into each other and
end up collaborating on a new project.
Bailey said, "I think a Rose Parade float is a pretty
interesting communication channel, an interesting way to reach a wide audience,"
and he added, "It's got to be a sustained effort, don't do it with this one
Whether at The Cove or reflected on a Rose Parade float, as
DiMario stated, "Innovation is at the heart of what makes Irvine a global city."