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The Asian Heritage Society conference on female leadership will focus on “Women in Virtual Reality” and examine how careers in the field are opening up for women and how young girls can begin preparing for such careers. The conference, later this year, will also focus on ways female leadership differs from other firms, how to find compatible mentors and how diversity and global inclusiveness enhances one’s leadership position in the world.


Women in VR talk business and diversity in a burgeoning tech industry

Sports and education are two of the key areas in which both individuals and companies can become successful in virtual reality today, ahead of the impending launch of the major headsets later this year, according to a panel of VR experts.

“An easy concept for the mainstream to grasp is the power to teleport or to time travel,” explained Helen Situ, Virtual Reality Evangelist at NextVR, at a panel titled "Women Lead VR: Executives Discuss Content Creation and Diversity" at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco this morning. “People want premium seat tickets to major sporting events. They want to be able to join in wherever they were in the world, so long as they’re online. Read More

The Netherlands is a serious hotbed for virtual reality content
The Netherlands is already known as an innovation hub. Indeed, this past April the European Commission awarded the European Capital of Innovation (iCapital) to Amsterdam.

The country has built an outstanding infrastructure for facilitating innovation. The government has made it easy and affordable for companies to incorporate, and recently instituted the startup visa scheme as a way to attract foreign entrepreneurs. It is always in the top 10 rankings for countries with the fastest Internet speeds. And the educational system, particularly the polytechnic institutions, churns out a steady supply of creative problem-solvers.

And now the country is emerging as an epicenter for virtual reality (VR) innovation. While Dutch startups have sprung up only very recently in this space, they’ve done so in large numbers — and they’re highly concentrated in the content creation end of the supply chain. Read More

While Virtual Reality has taken the tech world by storm, it has its skeptics. One of them is Barry Sandrew, founder of Legend 3D and one who has been around the entertainment industry for a long time. Sandrew invented the colorization process used in updating many black and white films and was a pioneer in 3D conversion of films as recently as 2007.

VR will be used in surgery and have applications, principally in gaming and, perhaps, in education, but, says Sandrew: “I am giving a different
perspective after working in the trenches of Hollywood…Investment interest peaked but is now diminishing…People want to be witness to a movie and not a participant,” said Sandrew, citing surveys that indicate a lack of interest by the general public. Just like colorization, he added, it is “not everyone’s cup of tea.”

Sandrew’s views were part of the first presentation of its kind in San Diego that looked at the future of virtual reality. The conference at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice attracted VR enthusiasts as well as many who came to hear about its prospects in storytelling, health, education and other applications.

Unlike Sandrew, Brian Levine, founder of the local VR Startup group, sees VR taking off in the near future among the general public because components, such as goggles used for viewing, are coming down in price. Also, he demonstrated how the general public, including his parents and son, have acclimated themselves to the technology.

The conference spent a considerable amount of time reviewing how VR is used in narrative storytelling, including journalism. Matt DeJohn of VRTUL Inc. demonstrated how he and the Asian Heritage Society produced a historical documentation in VR of the Vietnamese-American experience, in marking 41 years since the fall of Saigon. The audience also viewed a Ted Talk presentation by journalist Nonny dela Pena, who showed how she captured two events, including a bombing in Syria, by replicating it digitally. Dean Nelson, professor of journalism at Point Loma Nazarene University, questioned whether this was true journalism.

“The word ‘virtual’ (means) it’s not literally true. Journalism is what literally happens, not a recreation or retelling,” Nelson said, also questioning whether a digital representation of an event used to raise money for a cause, as the Syria documentation did, should be branded as “advocacy journalism.” By “trying to move you to care or give money, it just isn’t telling you the truth…but multiple truths,” Nelson added.

Other uses of VR in health and education were discussed, including the treatment of emotional disorders such as post-traumatic stress. Arno Hartholt, one of the founders of the USC Institute of Creative Technologies, demonstrated the creation of digital characters that actually interact with humans, saying he sees that as “a leading force in creating experiences how we teach, train and help.” The institute has worked closely with the U.S. Army on several training projects.

How to make money with VR was also explored by a panel that included SDSU professor Bernie Dodge and branding expert Bennett Peji. Everyone agreed that despite some of the limitations of VR, it is an “immersive experience that can excite kids,”  in Dodge’s words.

By U-T San Diego5:07 A.M.NOV. 24, 2014
On several occasions, we have talked about doing business in China. Well, the tables have turned and last week, China came to San Diego to do business.
“Make It In America,” a three-day conference in Escondido, attracted Asian innovators and investors who are seeking opportunities in real estate, biotech and high tech in San Diego and other parts of Southern California.

We strutted our region’s stuff from drones to biotech and discussed how government programs in both the U.S. and Mexico can provide assistance. Rosalynn Carmen, president of the Asian Heritage Society and co-organizer of the conference with Len Novarro, owner of Asia Media America, was motivated to establish the conference in order to “combine the diligence and tenacity of Asia and the freedom and creativity of America.” The result, she believes, is a win-win for both.

We definitely live in a global interconnected world, and while our companies need to figure out how to access global markets and money, it is also true that global markets are seeking us. And San Diego is on the map. Finding capital for our local companies to grow has been a long-term issue for San Diego, and conferences like Make It In America are significant because they make our region’s strengths visible.
There is one significant common business principle that overrides all others: Effective business is often done over a meal.

I sat with a most interesting group including Yu Shunbiao, executive chairman of the World Chinese Entrepreneur Association; Chang Zhang, an investor from Shanghai; Julia Cheng, a San Diegan who is vice president of the Taiwanese Chamber of Commerce of North America; and Cicely Meng, a San Diegan who is president of the San Diego-Taichung Sister Cities Association and specializes in facilitating cross-cultural business.

Through a translator, Shunbiao told me that Chinese investors are particularly interested in buying real estate (office buildings, apartment complexes, shopping centers and single-family homes) and undervalued public companies that can be taken private and turned around.

Cheng, who grew up in Shanghai, came to the United States in 1980 to study at UC San Diego. To support herself, she worked odd jobs and eventually earned a master’s degree in business administration from San Diego State University. In China, Cheng was separated from her parents, who became victims of the country’s political movement against what were seen as intellectuals. “The first thing in your life, you have to be sure you survive,” she said in an interview with the Asian Heritage Society, which recognized her with an award in 2013. “The second stage of your life you can dream and achieve your goal.” Cheng played an active role in recruiting participants from both China and Taiwan for this conference.

She said the region is attractive to them because of our beautiful weather, clean air, vibrant and growing Asian community, location near Mexico and the concentration of successful biotech and high-tech companies, including Qualcomm, that have hired engineers and scientists from both Taiwan and China. A lot of investment dollars from those countries have already gone to Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, she said, and “San Diego can now be a golden opportunity because valuations are lower than in Silicon Valley.”

At the conference, I talked about why San Diego is a great place for startups. I highlighted our already vibrant ecosystem in which success begets more success, our knowledgeable service providers, our amazing talent pool that comes from all over the world, our universities and research institutes, our growing angel investor networks, and our culture of entrepreneurship, which understands that failure is often part of the road to success.

Most importantly, I said, when our entrepreneurs have a successful exit, they stay involved. They start another company, become an angel investor and/or engage in philanthropy. This is truly the “Spirit of San Diego.”

Neil Senturia and Barbara Bry take turns in writing this weekly column about entrepreneurship in San Diego. Please email ideas to Barbara at

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