San Diego

Bronwyn Hogan

We take a look at the host city for the inaugural Think Global Forum for Life Science

In this quarter’s VTQ issue, we profile the city in which the inaugural Think Global Forum for Life Sciences  was held, San Diego. A vibrant city which has seen a recent emergence as a development centre for biotechnology and healthcare. Known as the ‘birthplace of California’, San Diego hosts a semi-arid Mediterranean climate, along with a deep water harbour and a multitude of beaches.


San Diego hosts the largest naval fleet in the world, made possible by the deep waters in the harbour, which are a major influencer on industry in the area. Because of this, the only major submarine and ship building yards on the West Coast are found in San Diego. The presence of industry here is a major economic influencer. The Department of Defense alone has 15,000 businesses relying on the contracts they issue. The US Navy facilities, Marine Corps and Coast Guard are but some of the military bases which are staged in San Diego.


San Diego has a major tourist industry, which can be accredited to its many beaches and ideal, yearround climate, making many of its attractions available throughout the year. Some of the more renowned attractions include the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park and various other parks. It is estimated that the city hosts just over 34 million tourists per year with a monetary value to the city of approximately $700 million annually. As well as having the means to host a US Navy fleet, San Diego’s deep water port allows for the city to have a thriving cruise ship industry, local whale-watching cruises and sport-fishing attractions.


The Life Sciences industry is also a significant economic driver in San Diego. Research institutions, including the University of California, San Diego have helped to drive the growth of the biotechnology industry.

The total economic impact of the industry is estimated at $31.6 billion. In 2014, 1,000 companies employed more than 34,000 people in direct Life Sciences employment – biomedical devices, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. However, if those in related industries were to be included, numbers would be 51,000. Related industries include biofuel, alternative energy, education and other supporting roles. The thriving industry has been fuelled by the 7,000 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates coming from San Diego county higher education institutions on an annual basis.

“A vibrant city which has seen a recent emergence as a development centre for biotechnology."

This in conjunction with the Venture Capital Investment in the Life Sciences sector has made it clear why San Diego is home to the industry vertical. With an investment of approximately $550 million in 2014, Biotechnology received more investment than any other industry. The presence of some of the most recognizable names in the pharmaceutical industry collaborating with major research institutions, universities and smaller biotech companies and combined with an educated workforce, make San Diego one of the top Life Sciences location worldwide.