Irvine’s innovation hubs

The city is a world leader in science, technology and medicine. Take a look…

Irvine is a world leader in science, technology and medicine. Take a look …


Irvine’s space-age ambitions have attracted an engineering division for SpaceX, America’s most successful private-spaceflight company. ICEYE, a global leader in monitoring the Earth, just opened a new manufacturing facility here for its radar-imaging satellites, while Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems is collaborating with NASA’s Artemis mission to build a permanent moon base to support the colonization of Mars. Irvine Unified School District students made history launching two satellites into space, while UCI seniors are now working on the preliminary design of a commercial jet transport.


Irvine plays as hard as it works, which may explain why it’s also a leader in the $150 billion annual video game industry. Blizzard Entertainment’s “World of Warcraft,” which has grossed more than $9.2 billion since its release in 2004, has been called the world’s best online role-playing game. Ready At Dawn’s “Lone Echo” series pioneered virtual-reality adventure gaming. Oculus VR, acquired by Facebook in 2014, created the world’s first wide-vision, virtual-reality headset, the Oculus Rift. Other successful Irvine-based game developers include Amazon Game Studios and Obsidian Entertainment.


The future of transportation is literally taking off in Irvine, where the Hyundai Motor Group recently unveiled its plan to produce a flying taxi. Irvine is also home to Rivian, hailed as the Tesla of Trucks, and is a national hub for innovations in EV battery development and charging infrastructure. Enevate, which makes a silicon-dominant advanced lithium‑ion battery, says it can already charge EVs 10 times faster than other existing technology. At UCI, Huolin Xin has begun courting investors for a project he calls “the holy grail of lithium-ion batteries,” the most problematic EV component.


Irvine is a med-tech mecca, with more than 400 firms offering some 18,000 jobs and generating billions of dollars in revenue, on top of some literally life-saving inventions. Among the most celebrated achievements: Edwards Lifesciences invented the first successful heart valve. Allergan pioneered the use of eyedrops and Botox cosmetic procedures. UC Irvine professor Philip Felgner helped pave the way for the COVID-19 vaccines administered to billions of people worldwide.


Sunny Irvine is also helping lead the way to potentially historic progress in harnessing solar power from space. Irvine Company Chairman Donald Bren has contributed more than $100 million to Caltech’s Space Solar Power Project, which promises to combat climate change while delivering more energy than Earth could use. Irvine Company has also created the world’s first fleet of hybrid‑electric high-rise office buildings, installing Tesla Powerpack batteries that can reduce peak-hour power demand by 25%. At TAE Technologies, founded by the late UCI professor Norman Rostoker, engineers hope to harness nuclear fusion – the reaction that powers the sun – to help solve the world’s energy crises.