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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Illumina

July 15, 2014


The ‘World’s Smartest Company’ just made one of the world’s smartest decisions. Today, genomics pioneer Illumina announced its plans to expand in San Diego.  With the help of EDC, the City of San Diego has announced an agreement that will help keep the biotech company and hundreds of high-paying jobs in San Diego. The City will provide a tax rebate in exchange for the retention and creation of 300 well-paying jobs.

This is a perfect example of how San Diego can support middle class jobs while also encouraging economic growth,” said Mayor Faulconer. “This agreement keeps hundreds of high wage jobs in San Diego, ensures city residents benefit from over a million dollars in annual sales tax revenue, and strengthens our region’s leadership in biotechnology.”

The announcement was made today at press conference at Illumina’s headquarters with CEO Jay Flatley, City of San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer,  Council President Pro Tem Sherri Lightner and EDC President and CEO Mark Cafferty. The City Council will now vote to ratify the agreement during the week of July 21.

Founded in 1998 with 15 employees, Illumina now has 3,000  employees – 1,500 which are in San Diego –   with offices in virtually every continent. The innovator has also emerged as one of the most important companies in the global biotech field. Earlier this year, they became the first company to sequence the human genome for under $1,000 a person, making one of the most significant strides in personalized medicine in the past decade. That’s one of the reasons Illumina was recently named “World’s Smartest Company” by MIT Technology Review, ahead of Tesla Motors, Google and Samsung.

“We’re excited to continue to grow a state-of-the-art campus that will not only contribute to Illumina’s success, but also contribute to the growth of San Diego’s life sciences community, to the advancement of genetic research, and ultimately to help people around the globe realize the benefits of personalized medicine,” said Jay Flatley, Illumina’s CEO.

“The fact that the ‘World’s Smartest Company’ has decided to expand its footprint in San Diego speaks volumes to the quality of our biotech industry and innovation economy,” said Mark Cafferty, president and CEO of EDC. “Not only do we have a Mayor that values economic development and job creation, but we also have a cutting-edge company showing how much they value San Diego’s dynamic workforce, manufacturing expertise and research capabilities.”

After an initial meeting with Illumina,  Mark Cafferty called Mayor Faulconer to express his concerns about Illumina expanding outside the region. Within 24 hours, Mayor Faulconer had cleared his schedule to sit down with key Illumina stakeholders to discuss the innovator’s growth plans. 

Like most of San Diego’s successes, collaboration helped us get to this point. Cushman & Wakefield’s Steve Rosetta and Former EDC Board Chair Stath Karras were able to spot a need to engage with Illumina early on in this process.  BIOCOM, Go-BIZ and partners at the State of California were also involved in guiding Illumina’s decision. Another EDC Board Member David Hale, considered one of the godfathers of biotech in San Diego, had flagged Illumina as the “next big thing.” All bets are, David is right.

As San Diego works to tell its innovation story to the rest of the world, we can look to Illumina as a strong global company. They have chosen to stay in San Diego because of the collaboration between the City and other partners as well as the strong talent pool that exists here. They are in England. They are in Brazil. They are in the UK. They are in Japan. But at the end of the day, they are headquartered in San Diego. And that’s the story we need to continue to tell.

U-T has more.

June 25, 2014

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Timing is everything. With BIO 2014 in full swing, Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) has released its list of the top U.S. life sciences clusters. No stranger to life sciences stardom, San Diego comes in third on the list. From algae biofuels to genomics, medical devices, and even beer, San Diego has seen a strong surge of cross-convergence throughout the biotech sector.

San Diego’s innovation economy is anchored by our strong biotech cluster. Not only are we home to what MIT researchers have dubbed ‘The World’s Smartest Company’ – Illumina – but the region’s leadership in stem cell research and the mapping of the human genome is second to none,” said Mark Cafferty, president and CEO of San Diego Regional EDC.

A combination of top-tier universities, a strong talent pool, and innovative companies have made San Diego a bio hub. Additionally, BIOCOM has worked to accelerate San Diego’s dynamic life sciences community.

This year’s rankings were based on life sciences employment concentration, employment growth, establishment concentration, venture capital funding and patents as well as NIH funding. If you are up on your rankings, you may realize that San Diego has dropped a spot since JLL 2013 rankings. In terms of job creation, San Diego is number one for life sciences employment concentration and number two for life sciences employment growth.

Adding employment growth and patent applications to the Global Life Sciences Cluster Report scorecard this year, two areas where the San Francisco Bay Area particularly excels, meant that San Diego dropped a spot from last year’s report,” said Brian Cooper, senior vice president at JLL. “However, as former president Bill Clinton declared on national television, San Diego has become the ‘human genome research capital in America,’ which bolsters our city’s strength in developing and supporting a collaborative cluster so attractive to emerging life science companies.”

One area where San Diego’s ranking has dropped is venture capital:  “Although we saw a dip in venture capital, this can be partially explained by the rise in local biotech companies going public. Last year was one of the strongest years for biotech IPOs in the past decade, which means in many cases companies did not need to raise late-stage money,” said Cafferty.

Eight San Diego companies went public in 2013 including Fate Therapeutics and Tandem Diabetes.          

April 21, 2014

When MIT set out to the name the world’s smartest company in February, they didn’t look to count the number of patents or PHds or even stock gains; instead, they asked themselves whether a company had made strides which have helped redefine its field. The answer was not a company located in Silicon Valley or Seoul or London. The answer was – and still is – right here in San Diego. That company is Illumina.

Founded in 1998, Illumina has not only helped build the genomics field, but also has redefined it. In a time when medicine and medical research are becoming increasingly expensive, Illumina has made personalized medicine more attainable. They have made it feasible to sequence genomes for under $1,000 a patient.

Last week, more than 15 EDC stakeholders got to experience this innovation first hand when they toured Illumina’s UTC headquarters. With its wide array of platforms, Illumina is sought out by researchers and healthcare professionals as well as ancestry companies, such as Ancestry.com and 23 & Me to provide valuable genetic information. Each day, Illumina and its 3,000 global employees- 1,500 in San Diego - work to improve lives around the world by unlocking the power of the genome.

On the tour of Illumina’s campus, guides walked participants through R&D space, on-site manufacturing facilities and a suite of amenities available to Illumina’s employees, including a state-of-the-art fitness center, coffee shops, an amphitheater and the cafeteria, which employees admit is the most effective and efficient meeting space on campus. Collaboration is at Illumina’s core and all of these spaces provide opportunities for employees to exchange information and generate new ideas, developing the next ideas that will fuel Illumina’s growth as a global brand.

As MIT notes when talking about their rankings, “It might sound difficult to define what makes a smart company, but you know one when you see it.” Thanks in part to Illumina, San Diego is showing the rest of the world what smart really means.