Oakland has long been an innovative city, but lately, the outside world has finally started to catch on (as evidenced by frequent New York Times coverage, Oakland ranking 9th among U.S. cities attracting tech investment, and more). From Vator Splash kicking off in Jack London Square, to Emeryville’s TubeMogul going public, to the birth of Omni Commons, it’s sure been an eventful year! Here are five of Oakland Local’s most popular innovation stories, showcasing some of that excitement. (Check out other 2014 article highlights here.)

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Why Oakland’s a tech start-up game changer
By Barbara Grady

 [….] At a time when the tech industry is sometimes vilified as elitist and indifferent to the housing needs and community ties of the average Bay Area worker, Oakland may be spearheading a more inclusive chapter in technology industry growth.  The firms mentioned above are just a partial list of those started by people outside of the usual tech demographic.

But for Oakland’s tech industry to continue to grow, and do so in the quintessentially Oakland way as a diverse and social mission driven sector, will take intention, many experts say.  Read more…

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Oakland’s Omni Commons space is where it’s at
By Eric James Anderson

The Omni Commons is probably the most exciting thing happening in Oakland right now, and it hasn’t even opened yet.

The simplest explanation of it: Omni Commons is an enormous old building in Temescal which is being renovated by hackers, activists, feminists, scientists, artists, educators and others who want to create a free space for building community, supporting local projects, sharing resources, hosting events, and teaching classes — but it is also much more than that.  Read more…

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Oaktech: Solar start-ups exploding in Oakland
By Jon Leckie

It’s no secret Jean Quan will have some competition for her job as mayor this year, but what she may not have expected was a different kind of 10K plan to crop up in Oakland.

In an effort to bring in 10,000 new residential solar customers by the end of 2016, Oakland-based solar company Sungevity and San Francisco’s Sunrun announced a new partnership today. Working together, the two former rivals could generate up to 70 megawatts of extra electricity.  Read more…

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Startup Weekend Oakland/Black Male Achievement produces 14 apps, lots of inspiration
By Barbara Grady

“This is history y’all,” said software engineer Ayori Selassie from the platform at Startup Weekend/Black Male Achievement on Sunday night. “This is the first event that has happened like this in the entire world. So if you are here, you are in the middle of making history.”

This past weekend, hundreds of people poured into Impact HUB Oakland’s new headquarters for a hackathon that not only produced 14 viable computer applications/business startups but also turned about 40 African-American teenagers into potential entrepreneurs, after they spent two days coding, problem-solving and business planning, alongside engineering and business professionals. Read more…

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At Oakland’s “fab labs,” shop class is dead – long live advanced-manufacturing class!
By Eric James Anderson

Oakland has a long history as a manufacturing hub, with some curio-highlights like the invention of the fortune-cookie folding machine and the fabrication of Chicago’s reflective bean statue, but nostalgia has little to do with the industrious rise of the local maker movement.

At the heart of the issue is a economic argument about the long term value of these jobs, and a vision of Oakland at the forefront of the advanced manufacturing industry (as opposed to the forefront of the tech-worker bedroom-community industry).  Read more…

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Click here to check out other article highlights from 2014…

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