People who work at W. L. Gore aren’t surprised to get a blank stare when their employer’s name comes up. In addition to selling electrical cables, industrial sealants, surgical sutures, guitar strings, and ultra-strong rope, the company makes the weatherproof material GORE-TEX, used in all sorts of outdoor apparel. That’s what usually produces a nod of recognition. (It doesn’t help that the $3 billion company, based in Delaware, is privately-held.)”
Gore is well known for internal innovation, and we’re increasing our focus on external innovation,” says Linda Elkins, a veteran of Gore’s engineering and new product organizations, and now the leader of the company’s new Silicon Valley Innovation Center. “We’re a 55-year old materials company, and today’s environment is very different than 55 years ago. We realize that, and want to capitalize on some of the ideas, talent, and activities going on out here in Silicon Valley. Our center is really focused on the external innovation—working with partners in the ecosystem, like startups, universities, and venture capital firms.”
In May, Elkins held the first public event at the new innovation center, bringing in 10 startups working in the digital health space to pitch Gore. The 11,000-square foot space consists of a 2,500-square-foot lab, a “Capabilities Center,” and a shared workspace, which is “set up so we can create with partners,” Elkins explains. Elkins gave InnoLead contributing photographer Cayce Clifford a look at the center.