Viewing blog posts written by Gino DiCaro

Company making 2-atom wide shaving blade wins Advanced MFG category at Sacramento Region Innovation Awards

Posted by Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications on Nov. 3, 2018

The Sacramento Region Innovation Awards program announced its winners last Thursday during a ceremony hosted by organizers Stoel Rives LLP, CMTA member Moss Adams LLP and the Sacramento Business Journal. Eight winners and 13 finalists were recognized during the luncheon, featuring master of ceremonies Kitty O’Neal of NewsRadio KFBK.

CMTA was proud to be on the Advanced Manufacturing Selection Committee and congratulates Atocera, maker of low-cost ultra-sharp, rustproof ceramic and semiconductor blades with multi-dimensional self-cleaning cutting-edges, and integrated sensors for surgical and hair removal applications. In the future these revolutionary blades made from semiconductor material will be used in commercial everyday shaving products and in surgical procedures such as cataract surgery.

Atocera's  story is interesting. Technically, the company is the result of a shaving accident. Back in 2012, Saif Islam, a UC Davis professor of electrical and computer engineering, was building silicon micro-walls for solar panels. During the process of cutting semiconductor material into small slices, something unexpected happened. "While we were slicing, we came up with some slices that were very sharp,” Islam says. "So sharp that they could cause bleeding when handling if you’re not careful."

He realized these ultra-sharp slices of semiconductor material, called wafers, could be used in other areas. With the same machine used to make computer chips, he could make thousands of silicon-based blades at once to be used for shaving and cataract surgery. This breakthrough led to the launch of Atocera in 2014.

The blade itself is only two atoms wide and sharper than steel. The machine enables Islam to produce 5,000 blades at a time, which makes them much cheaper than blades currently in use by eye doctors.


The awards program recognizes regional innovation across eight categories, honoring the people and organizations that advance new products, services and processes from the Sacramento area, which is defined as Butte, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Sacramento, Solano, Sutter, Yolo and Yuba counties.

The 2018 winners are:

  • Advanced Manufacturing: Atocera, Inc. – Microfabricated Blades
  • Food & Agribusiness: Pheronym, Inc. – A New Kind of Pheromone for Agricultural Pest Control
  • Government & Civic: Sutter Health and WellSpace Health– Street Nurse Program
  • Hardware & Electronics: TacSense – Flexible Iontronic Sensing Technology
  • Medical & Health – BioPharma: Cognivive –Virtual Reality Game Treatment for Brain Injury Recovery
  • Medical & Health – MedTech: MUSE Microscopy Inc. – MUSE (Microscopy with Ultraviolet Sectioning Excitation)
  • Software: TraitWare – TraitWare Secure Login Solution
  • Sustainability: Terzo Power Systems – HEVI Hybrid Electric Power System

Nearly 100 nominations were evaluated by a selection committee consisting of local leaders from civic, business, academic and technology sectors. In addition to announcing the winners, there were 13 other finalists, of which past CMTA Champion TriTool was one for its TRIMAX Portable Pipe Machining Tool.

The Sacramento Region Innovation Awards program was founded by Stoel Rives LLP and is facilitated by the firm’s attorneys and professional staff. Moss Adams LLP validates the voting process and the Sacramento Business Journal events division provides promotional and management services. Learn more at and on Twitter and Facebook at #SacInnov8Awards.


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Sacramento Region Innovation Awards shines light on northern CA MFG - Apply by July 20

Posted by Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications on July 7, 2018

The 3rd Annual Sacramento Region Innovation Awards will recognize the area’s vibrant innovation community — from startups to established companies — and their breakthrough creations. Manufacturers can apply themselves or submit a nomination up to July 20. Eligible entries will undergo a strict evaluation process by peers and leaders from the Capital Region’s business, civic and academic communities. Pioneering innovations will be judged on market need, economic impact, disruption and novelty.

The program will accept entries for recently developed business innovations that are established in the 9-county Sacramento region. New technologies, as well as other products, services and processes, must fit within one of the eight program categories, including

  1. Advanced Manufacturing
  2. Food and Agribusiness
  3. Government and Civic
  4. Hardware and Electronics
  5. Medical and Health – MedTech
  6. Medical and Health – BioPharma
  7. Software
  8. Sustainability.

You can apply and see eligibility requirements at

In celebrating regional innovation, the awards aim to strengthen the Sacramento story, build the local economy, and stimulate the creative minds fueling our innovation ecosystem. Founded in 2016 by business law firm Stoel Rives LLP, the program is made possible with support from CMTA Associate member Moss Adams LLP, the Sacramento Business Journal, Five Star Bank, and the Greater Sacramento Economic Council — not to mention dozens of community partner organizations and the esteemed Selection Committee. Join the effort  — nominate or apply before July 20!


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CMTA celebrates CA MFG with exhibit in State Capitol

Posted by Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications on June 4, 2018

You might recall from CMTA's earlier celebration and magazine feature that 2018 is the Centennial Anniversary year for CMTA.  In 1918, five founding companies started the Association (then called the California Manufacturers Association) because they were aware of the huge and growing role they played in the regional economy. 100 years later the same things drive our association and the sector itself - innovation, job creation and competitiveness.

This week CMTA has set up a California manufacturing display in front of the Governor's office in the State Capitol to help us celebrate our Centennial year and to launch our efforts for this year's Oct. 5 Manufacturing Day.  The exhibit emphasizes every reason why our State leaders should work to attract more manufacturing. With only 4.5 percent of last year's U.S. manufacturing investment and a manufacturing sector that continues to lag the national renaissance in job growth, California must enact policies that make our state more competitive for retention and attraction of manufacturing growth.

Please stop by the exhibit on the first floor of the State Capitol this week to take a selfie and tweet your picture showing your support of California manufacturing. (Hashtags: #CAmfg, #CMTAcentennial, MFGday2018)



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CA should manufacture the products that come from its great ideas

Posted by Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications on Feb. 2, 2018

Since 2010 California's innovation economy far outpaced the rest of the country. California is a beacon for big bold ideas and research and development. In most regions the early stages of an idea's patent cerification and R&D often translate later to manufacturing jobs in the same area - meaning a tremendous opportunity for the local middle class. For California, the latter part of the equation appears to be falling flat since 2010. You'll see in the chart below that the state's patent growth is near double the United States' pace, while our manufacturing job growth is less than half the pace of the rest of the country. 

Too often California's ideas are being invested in other parts of the country when it's time to build manufacturing facilities to produce commercial scale of a product.  With so much innovation and bold and intelligent risk takers in our state, California needs to find ways to make it easier for our innovators to manufacturer in our own backyard. 



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Sacramento Innovation Awards names finalists - MFG is surging in the region!

Posted by Gino DiCaro, VP, Communications on Oct. 16, 2017

Sixteen finalists have been selected for the second annual Sacramento Region Innovation Awards, presented by Stoel Rives LLP, Moss Adams LLP and the Sacramento Business Journal.

CMTA is proud to partner with the award series for a second year in a row and we are honored to sit on the particular Advanced Manufacturing selection committee. The program recognizes recent business innovations in six categories, honoring the people and organizations that advance new products, services and processes from the regional economy. Winners will be revealed during an awards luncheon on Tuesday, November 7, 2017 at the Hilton Sacramento Arden West.

The 2017 Finalists include:

Advanced Manufacturing

  • CNC Machining Processes & Educational Platform by Titans of CNC
  • Laser Solution for Medical Device Manufacturing by Aduro Laser

Food & Agribusiness

Hardware & Electronics

Medical & Health Technologies & Services


  • Denali Intelligence and Automation for and Microsoft by DialSource, Inc.
  • Digital Transaction Management for Real Estate by SkySlope
  • Government Fraud Detection as a Service (FDaaS) by Pondera Solutions


The program’s selection committee reviewed more than 75 nominations submitted online through the Sacramento Business Journal between June 1 and July 31, 2017. Committee members were drawn from the area’s civic, business, academic and technology sectors, and include representatives from MedStart, CleanStart, UC Davis’ Venture Catalyst, Greater Sacramento Economic Council, The City of Sacramento Mayor’s Office for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Teichert, Intel, Pride Industries, CMTA, Valley Vision, SMUD, Raley’s and Sutter Health, among others.

Last year’s category winners were also invited to serve as judges this year, bringing Sierra Energy, Evolve BioSystems, Free Form Factory and Riskalyze to the mix. Moss Adams tabulated ballots using a new online voting system developed through Qualtrics.

The program also will recognize University of California, Davis as the 2017 “Innovation of the Year” honoree, spotlighting the university’s role as champion of regional innovation and entrepreneurship. Chancellor Gary S. May will accept the award on behalf of the university and provide keynote remarks.

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