Ty Safreno & Umesh Mishra, by Stephen Heraldo / REACH photo
Wednesday, January 31, 2024, 12:00 pm

Dr. Umesh Mishra speaks at REACH Central Coast conference


About Attracting Investment and Talent to South Coast

UC Santa Barbara and local companies are getting CHIPS and Science Act funding to boost semiconductor manufacturing and development

by Giana Magnoli, Noozhawk Executive Editor

Umesh Mishra, right, and Ty Safreno talk about semiconductor innovations at the Jan. 17 REACH Ideas + Action Summit.  Stephen Heraldo / REACH photo

High-tech research and manufacturing are thriving in Goleta, but industry experts say housing shortages make it harder for companies to recruit and keep top talent.

A recent REACH Central Coast conference examined the successes and barriers for innovative industries such as microelectronics, aerospace and defense, space, and clean energy.

The REACH region — Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties — is a research and development powerhouse, mostly thanks to UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly.

Kristen Miller, president and CEO of the Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce, has been bragging about the region’s high-tech bona fides for years.

The chamber has formalized it now, with its campaign marketing the South Coast as TechTopia for its technology and manufacturing industries.

A lot of people affiliated with UCSB start companies and understandably want to stay in the area, according to Umesh Mishra, the university’s dean of engineering.

That’s what he did — he co-founded Transphorm, a semiconductor company near Goleta’s City Hall, about 17 years ago.

“UCSB doesn’t produce engineers who go seek jobs; it produces engineers that go create jobs,” Mishra said. “It’s an entrepreneurial university.”

With a constant influx of students, the university “refreshes itself, which is wonderful for innovation,” he said.  

If he could snap his fingers and do anything to help the industry, Mishra said he would get more investment and more housing.

“It’s important to tackle (housing); otherwise, the future’s a little bit tenuous,” Mishra said.

Erik Lucero, a Google Quantum lead engineer and Santa Barbara site lead, got his Ph.D. at UCSB and the whole team started there, he said.

Google’s quantum computer efforts are headquartered in Goleta, and having UCSB nearby “is a big part of why we stay here,” Lucero said.


UCSB is among the California universities and companies getting millions of dollars through the federal CHIPS and Science Act, which wants to boost semiconductor manufacturing and development.