ROHNERT PARK -- In an executive shuffle at the Sonoma Mountain Business Cluster and iHub in Rohnert Park, Michael Newell has left the position of executive director, replaced for the time being by a mentor and financier of startups.

[caption id="attachment_61728" align="alignright" width="338"] Michael Newell, Roy Martinez[/caption]

Dr. Newell, director of the business cluster for five years and of the iHub since its inception in 2010, left Sept. 14 to join Santa Rosa-based Deposition Sciences Inc. as director of sales and marketing.

"It's a challenge going back to the private sector, but I'm up to it," said Dr. Newell, who was a business development manager for JDS Uniphase before coming to the cluster. He's an optics veteran who holds a doctorate in physics and 13 patents.

Roy Martinez, who was most recently the interim chief financial officer and vice president of finance at WineDirect, is now acting executive director of the incubator and iHub. He has been a business cluster volunteer mentor on the advisory board, was co-chair of the 2010 North Bay Investor Summit and is executive chair of the North Bay Angels investment group. He has an MBA from Harvard Business School and a bachelor of science degree in engineering from University of California at Berkeley.

[caption id="attachment_61731" align="alignleft" width="400"] Entrepreneurs gather in the lobby of the Sonoma Mountain Business Cluster and iHub.[/caption]

"Whether or not I stay on as permanent executive director depends on the outcome of the SMBC's budget evaluation,"  he said. This periodic review of the budget, which totals in the hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, is expected to be complete by year-end. The iHub is working on securing federal grants. "The incubator is entering a new phase, and we'll see how I fit into the vision."

As interim director, Mr. Martinez would like to see more events that foster startups' working together at the SMBC campus, currently home to the EMBA program at Sonoma State University, the investor summit, a distinguished speakers program and networking mixers.

"In its role as iHub, especially, it has the potential to be the North Bay center for innovation," he said. "The region has countless individuals who commute or telecommute to Silicon Valley. We'd like to bring them out of the woodwork."

The business cluster can accommodate 10 to 12 businesses at a time and has averaged 10 in residence at once in the past five years.