Oakland, California – On Thursday, March 28, 2024, East Bay EDA hosted the 11th Annual East Bay Innovation Awards presented by Sutter Health at the Oakland Scottish Rite Center, drawing an impressive crowd of over 500 attendees. This highly anticipated event showcased the region’s spirit of innovation and celebrated remarkable organizations and people that contribute to the East Bay’s legacy of pioneering advancements.

For more than a decade, the East Bay Innovation Awards has been a platform to honor outstanding businesses and organizations from Alameda and Contra Costa Counties. In December 2023, industry experts meticulously selected 20 finalists across various categories, setting the stage for the unveiling of the final ten winners during this prestigious ceremony. The categories encompassed Advanced Manufacturing, Arts & Culture, Built Environment, Clean Technology, Community Impact, Education, Engineering and Design, Food, Life Sciences, and Technology.

Before the awards presentation, attendees were welcomed by Stephen Baiter, Executive Director of East Bay EDA, and Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao, who emphasized the resilience of downtown Oakland and highlighted the pivotal roles of small businesses, healthcare organizations, and educational institutions in the city’s vitality. Adding flair to the evening’s proceedings was Gia Vang from NBC Bay Area, who served as the emcee. The event also saw a distinguished presence of elected officials, as well as representatives from consulates, foreign trade offices, and the Office of Governor Gavin Newsom.

Among the accolades, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority was honored with the 2024 Legacy Award for its pioneering efforts in transportation innovation, notably through initiatives like GoMentum Station, one of the world’s leading autonomous vehicle testing sites. The Honorable Keith Carson, Alameda County Supervisor for District 5, was recognized with the 2024 Lifetime Civic Innovator award for his lifelong dedication to public service, as acknowledged in a video tribute from Congresswoman Barbara Lee and onstage by the Executive Committee leaders of East Bay EDA.

The 10 winners of the evening included:

Advanced Manufacturing: Saildrone (Alameda) – Saildrone offers cutting-edge, eco-friendly solutions for ocean science, research, mapping, and maritime security through its fleet of uncrewed surface vehicles (USV). Their USVs operate continuously without a support vessel, boasting over 32,000 days at sea and traversing 1 million nautical miles across all Earth’s oceans.

Arts and Culture: Native American Health Center (Oakland) – Native American Health Center (NAHC) launched the Indigenous Red Market in 2018 as a unique approach to providing stronger, more culturally informed Indigenous healthcare and wellness services.

Built Environment: Terner Housing Innovation Labs (Oakland) – Terner Housing Innovation Labs works to scale critical innovations to advance housing affordability, equity, and sustainability. Their cornerstone program, the Housing Lab, works to support innovative ventures that have the potential to make the housing market more accessible and equitable.

Clean Tech: Lilac Solutions Inc. (Oakland) – Lilac’s purpose is to accelerate the energy transition away from fossil fuels, becoming the world’s largest provider of abundant, sustainably sourced Lithium – the essential mineral for batteries/energy storage. Through our patented technology, we solve the Lithium industry’s three critical problems: development times, low production rates and unlocking untapped resources faster.

Community Impact: District Works (Oakland) – District Works provides special projects, programs, and initiatives designed to enhance the public realm experience. They are focused on making a sustainable positive impact in the communities and neighborhoods they serve.

Education: Kids Teach Tech (San Ramon) – Kids Teach Tech Empowers youth to create and teach classes in Technology, Robotics, Coding, and Artificial Intelligence for underrepresented youth. Additionally, they empower students to become teachers and leaders, helping to lift their communities and increase future opportunities. The organization has more than 100 youth teachers who have taught more than 5000 students, mostly in Oakland and the East Bay.

Engineering and Design: Ambi Robotics (Berkeley) – Ambi Robotics is an AI and robotics company developing advanced solutions that scale ecommerce shipping operations to meet demand while empowering humans to work smarter. The company’s industry-leading AI operating system, AmbiOS, leverages advanced simulation-to-reality technology to operate highly dexterous robotic systems.

Food: Torani (San Leandro) – Established in 1925, Torani is an amazing flavor company that creates opportunities for its team members, partners, community, and consumers. Credited with putting the Italian soda on the U.S. map and creating the first flavored latte, their innovation is an art as much as it is a science.

Life Sciences: Bakar Labs (Berkeley) – Bakar Labs is UC Berkeley’s premier life-science incubator, and part of the Bakar BioEnginuity Hub. As a global destination for bio-entrepreneurs, they help transform ideas into world-changing impact. Its vibrant community connects Berkeley entrepreneurs with expert guidance from scientific leaders, industry partners and investors to advance new technologies.

Technology: Rain (Alameda) – Rain, a leader in aerial wildfire containment technology, is helping fire agencies more rapidly suppress wildfires during the earliest stages of ignition. Rain adapts existing autonomous aircraft with the intelligence to perceive, understand, and suppress wildfires, enabling numerous aircraft to be prepositioned in remote locations, accelerating response time.

Event photos are linked here (Credit: Malcolm Wallace Photography for East Bay EDA)