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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


innovation

April 22, 2015

Perhaps nothing encapsulates San Diego’s mix of innovation and lifestyle more than the surfboard pictured below. Let us explain…

Although it looks like any other surfboard, it’s actually made from algae, instead of petroleum-based polyurethane which is typically found in surfboards. We have Stephen Mayfield, a scientist from UC San Diego and director of the California Center for Algae Biotechnology, to thank for that. Like quite a few San Diegans, he can call himself both a scientist and a surfer.

Mayfield is featured in “National Geographic Channel’s: World’s Smart Cities” documentary about San Diego, which premiered last night at San Diego Symphony Hall.  Following the documentary, Mayfield presented the world’s first algae-based surfboard to Mayor Kevin Faulconer. Surfing legend and San Diego local Rob Machado, who also appeared in the documentary, was on hand to help present the surfboard. In the documentary, Mayfield talks about industry/academic collaborations that are helping to make biofuels from algae a commercially viable transportation fuel in the future. 

The documentary follows San Diego’s innovation narrative as National Geographic host and Digital Nomad Andrew Evans gets his genome sequenced at Illumina, performs stem cell surgery on a penguin at SeaWorld, flies UAVS at Northrop Grumman, learns about the Smart Grid at SDG&E, checks out the Qualcomm® Thinkabit Lab™,  part engineering lab and part art studio – all while enjoying the sites, culture and lifestyle that San Diego is known for.

Last night, Andrew Evans made the trek back to San Diego to join Mayor Kevin Faulconer, San Diego Tourism Authority’s Joe Terzi, EDC’s Mark Cafferty and a packed house of San Diegans to show people why San Diego is the only city in North America chosen for the documentary.

"San Diego is a neat city. There's no place like it in the world," said Evans at the premiere.  

The documentary will be shown in more than 60 countries, reaching approximately 250 million households world-wide.  Make sure to tune in (or record) the documentary, which begins airing this Saturday, on the National Geographic Channel.

Spread the word. It’s time the world learns what San Diego is really about.



Follow the conversation at #Smartcities.

December 1, 2014

DRAGEN Chip Large Ball Array

Every year, The Scientist, a world-renowned science and innovation publication, looks to highlight “research products introduced in the past year that are poised to revolutionize the life sciences industry.” Half of the “Top 10 Innovations of 2014” list is made up of San Diego companies.

This is no small victory. Companies as far away as Austria, with its HAP1 Cells developed by Haplogen Genomics GmbH, were ranked. In fact, no other city had more than one local company ranked.

The San Diego winners of The Scientist’s Top 10 innovations of 2014 are:

  • DRAGEN Bio-IT Processor (Edico Genome) – This bioinformatics processor reduces the computational cost and increases speed of analyzing genomic sequence data.
  • MiSeqDX (Illumina) – This benchtop sequencer is the first next-generation sequencing tool approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for use in clinical diagnostics.
  • HiSeq X 10 (Illumina) – This platform enables whole-genome sequencing at population-level scales at the long-sought-for cost of $1,000 per human genome. 
  • IrysChipV2(BioNano Genomics, Inc.) – This tool provides a high-throughput platform for the visualization of large-scale genomic structure, with applications for mapping, assembly, and evolutionary analyses.
  • exVive3D Liver model (Organovo, Inc.) – This in vitro model mimics the macro and micro 3-D structure of the human liver, providing an experimental system that closely models in vivo human liver function.

With a strong concentration of research institutes, San Diego has made a name for itself as the genomics capital of the U.S. All of the San Diego-based innovations, with the exception of the exVive3D Liver model, are classified as genomics innovations.

Growing this base of innovative companies is a key focus of EDC’s work. In July, Illumina announced its plans to expand in San Diego, thanks to a 1.5 million tax rebate from the City of San Diego, which will retain and create 300 well-paying jobs locally. Because of this deal, Illumina will continue to develop its local footprint, and attract top scientists to the region.

As San Diego becomes ubiquitous for life sciences innovation, this ranking reiterates that products and innovations developed here have the power to change the world.

November 7, 2014

Mayor Faulconer and TSRI Acting President & CEO James Paulson

With more than 80 research institutes throughout the region, San Diego is a breeding ground for innovative companies and institutes that solve some of the world’s toughest challenges.  Perhaps no local institution has captured the region’s innovative spirit more than The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI).

 They are on the forefront of controlling a global epidemic. Currently, TSRI Professor Erica Ollmann Saphire is advancing new Ebola therapies and has already contributed to the development of ZMapp, the Ebola therapy from San Diego-based Mapp Pharmaceuticals, given to the first two U.S. missionaries who survived infection.  Dr. Saphire has launched a crowdfunding campaign to find new therapies for the viral disease. TSRI Professor Dennis Burton and his colleagues are also taking a global leadership role in the development of a vaccine to combat HIV/AIDS, focusing on understanding rare antibodies that are effective in neutralizing the virus.

As part of his commitment to raising global awareness of the region’s innovation economy, City of San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer has partnered with EDC to tour some of San Diego’s most cutting-edge businesses and institutes, including TSRI last Friday.  The Mayor also visited General Dynamics NASSCO and SPAWAR earlier this year.

As of Tuesday, Dr. Saphire’s crowdfunding campaign has exceeded its $100,000 goal, meaning more innovation will take place right here, in San Diego.  


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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.


April 15, 2014

Jacobs School Research EXPO UCSD

Capital can be a pain point for many entrepreneurs. Despite the odds, many San Diego companies have found funding. According to the PricewaterhouseCoopers MoneyTree report, San Diego companies were involved in 23 venture capital deals and received more than $145 million in funding in Q4 of 2013. However, for a variety of reasons, overall venture capital invested in San Diego still took a dip between 2012 and 2013.

A group of alumni of the University of California, San Diego may help change that. They have created a venture capital fund—the Triton Technology Fund—that is specifically focused on commercializing innovations by UC San Diego faculty, students and alumni. (Read the Xconomy story here.)

The Triton Technology Fund will invest in companies affiliated with UC San Diego faculty, students and alumni with innovations in the software, communications, electronics, materials, medical devices and instruments sectors. The goal is to leverage breakthroughs in these areas to provide solutions for business-to-business enterprises.

“Commercializing university research requires external expertise and investment. The Triton Technology Fund is going to accelerate the success of our innovators by injecting crucial resources into our entrepreneurism and commercialization initiatives here at the Jacobs School of Engineering and across all of UC San Diego and its alumni networks,” said Albert P. Pisano, Dean of the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering in a statement announcing the fund.

The university is a breeding ground for ideas and innovation. To date, UC San Diego faculty and alumni have been credited with forming more than 500 startup companies. Some of these innovations can be seen in action this Thursday when the Jacobs School of Engineering hosts its annual Research Expo event. UC San Diego engineering graduate students will present their latest research at the 200-strong poster session at Research Expo on Thursday April 17 from 2:00 to 4:30 pm on the UC San Diego campus. (You can scan poster titles or search by industry application area online.)

The Jacobs School of Engineering’s Research Expo, now in its 33rd year, also includes ten-minute faculty tech talks covering regenerative medicine, big data, video processing for medical applications, robotics education, wearable sensors, and aerospace safety. Registration is available onsite.

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March 18, 2014

Linden Blue

Linden Blue, vice chairman of General Atomics and current chairman and CEO of Spectrum Aeronautical, was honored by the Tesla Foundation this past Saturday with the Nikola Tesla Award for Innovation.

Linden Blue is one of the masters of modern energy and aviation and San Diego is honored to have such an innovative leader in its region. The event program reads, “Linden Blue has always been very interested in technology. That interest has led him from innovating Learjet product improvements while working at Gates Learjet, to overseeing the development of the Lear Fan and the Beech Starship, and, more recently, to develop unmanned aerial vehicles and nuclear reactors.”

The Tesla Foundation’s mission is to create, promote, and protect American jobs and businesses through innovation and commercialization. 

Here’s to you Linden, for your incredible contributions to the aeronautics and energy sectors and for pioneering San Diego’s game-changing innovative culture.

The thing that’s always turned me on in aviation is the innovation part of it. If you could dramatically improve the technology, that interested me. That’s what I want to do.” – Linden Blue

October 21, 2013

Illustrating some of the dynamic uses for unmanned system.

Illustrating some of the dynamic uses for unmanned system. Clockwise from top left: Drone used for newspaper delivery (The Atlantic), prepping a wildfire- fighting drone for launch (The New York Times), simulation of a lifeguard/lifesaving drone (AUVSI), agricultural drone used for weed control (3dRobotics/ Diydrones.com) 

If you stopped 100 people on the street and asked them to name a technology in the past 20 years that has changed the world, it’s safe to assume that the internet would be a top choice. Yet if you ask people about the origins of the internet, many would have to pause for a second to think. In the 1950s, the internet was developed as a tool for military communication. It wasn’t until the mid-90s that the internet was adopted and commercialized for broader use. 
 
San Diego is used to seeing military innovations adopted for commercial use. In fact, many of the region’s largest and most well-known companies – including Qualcomm – were born out of military innovation. 
 
Now, a new technology is being developed for commercial use and San Diego, with its strong military history, trained talent, and diverse terrain, has a decent chance of playing a big role in something that has already began to revolutionize the world. 
 
Unmanned Systems – or drones as they’re often called – have uses ranging from agricultural production to disaster monitoring and wildfire fighting.  
 
A jobs generator 
 
Recognizing the importance of unmanned systems, the FAA has issued a call to establish six test sites across the country, with a goal of working to integrate this technology safely into our airspace.  A recent study from the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International found that California was poised to gain 18,161 jobs if they created a test site- more than any other U.S. state. This does not even take into account the impact of non-aerial unmanned systems for marine and farming use, which will help create even more jobs. The industry would pump approximately $90 billion into the economy in the next decade, generating an estimated $70 million in tax revenue. 
 
In partnership with San Diego Military Advisory Council, EDC and other San Diego partners joined the CAL UAS portal. The proposed testing site would start at the U.S./Mexico border and run from Bridgeport to the North and to the Arizona/Nevada border to the East. The regulations do not allow testing within a 30-mile radius of installations including Lindbergh Field and McClellan-Palomar Airport, meaning most of San Diego’s metro airspace will not be included in testing ranges.
 
San Diego is at a significant advantage. Not only do we have one of the most diverse testing sites in the U.S., but we also have a strong private sector that would help support a testing site. Companies such as 3Drobotics, Northrop Grumman, General Atomics and 5d robotics provide a well-qualified talent pool to help the sector thrive. 
 
Maybe 10 years from now, if we ask people about a technology that has profoundly impacted society, unmanned systems will float to the top of the list. Our hope is that when it does, San Diego is thought of as a leader in this field.
 

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September 17, 2013

With more than 2,800 manufacturers spread out across San Diego County, the region is home to a diverse and growing manufacturing base which supports more than 91,000 jobs.  Yet there is a growing perception that manufacturing is on its way out, as jobs supposedly head overseas to remain cost competitive.  Every day, companies are finding ways to innovate and refine the manufacturing process and retain and bring back manufacturing jobs and it’s happening right here in our backyard.

On Oct. 4, many of these San Diego companies will open their doors to the public as part MFG Day, a national program that addresses common misperceptions about the manufacturing industry.  Participants include:

·         D&K Engineering – As the exclusive manufacturer of innovative e-recycler EcoATM, this Rancho Bernardo company also works in the medical device and 3d printing space. Register

·         Quality Control Manufacturing Inc. –  What started as a one man operation in a garage in 1978, has grown into a 95 person team for this Santee precision parts manufacturer Register

·         Taylor Guitars – Located in El Cajon, the Taylor Guitars’ factory tour takes guests through the steps of guitar construction. From wood selection to final assembly, guests will experience each process as a guitar evolves from raw wood into a finished instrument. Register

The tours will be preceded by a breakfast panel and discussion with representative from the touring companies at San Diego City College.

So why should San Diego County care about manufacturing? Here are a few reasons:

·         According to the Manufacturing Institute, every job created in the manufacturing sector supports 2.5 additional jobs

·         Manufacturing crosses all sectors – Military, tourism, and innovation- of San Diego’s traded economies; For example, the San Diego Military Advisory Council reports that the manufacturing industry is the largest business sector that provides goods and services to the military throughout San Diego County

·         The industry is more relevant than ever: According to the U.S. Census Bureau Quarterly Workforce Indicators, California's manufacturers created 51,571 new jobs in the third quarter of 2011

·         The Mega-region creates an economically competitive landscape for manufacturers—Just ask companies including 3Drobotics, Taylor Guitars, and Aqua lung

·         Small businesses are the lifeline of San Diego’s manufacturing ecosystem;  80 percent of manufacturers in San Diego and Imperial Counties have less than 10 employees

We hope to see you at Manufacturing Day, but if we don’t catch you there, you can still follow the conversation on twitter using the hashtag #MadeinSD.


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January 28, 2013

San Diego venture capitalist and entrepreneur Greg Horowitt took the EDC board of directors on a virtual zip line tour of his new book “The Rainforest: The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley” at a recent meeting. San Diego has served as a living lab for Horowitt, who is one of the founders of Global CONNECT, a San Diego-based network committed to growing new technology clusters worldwide.

Horowitt asks a provocative question: Can we engineer serendipity through design? The answer is yes – if we are designing a culture and a system for innovation. Using the contrast between a plantation and a rainforest, he illustrates the prized attributes of a plantation: order, precision, accuracy, productivity, and (to make the comparison work) no weeds. Then imagine a rainforest: it mixes diverse elements together that encourage the development of new species and allows weeds to grow unchecked.

In San Diego, we talk about an ecosystem of innovation.  According to Horowitt, the roots of an ecosystem are smart policies, supportive infrastructure, flexible but strong intellectual property frameworks, enterprise and entrepreneurial support, and a robust capital “food chain.” It also includes an informed and engaged private sector, proactive innovation leadership development, responsive and responsible workforce development that includes skill-building initiatives, active youth engagement, and university – industry linkages. A quick scan of the San Diego innovation landscape reveals that, as a region, many of these roots are well established and are growing branches that expand our economy and prosperity.

Horowitt’s Rules of the Rainforest are straightforward and time-tested:

Rule #1: Break rules and dream.

Rule #2: Open doors and listen.

Rule #3: Trust and be trustworthy.

Rule #4: Experiment and iterate together.

Rule #5: Seek fairness, not advantage.

Rule #6: Err, fail, and persist.

Rule #7: Pay it forward.

The living lab of San Diego has given Horowitt insights that he and his Rainforest co-author Victor Hwang hope will lead to a focus on the development of innovation systems rather than the more traditional emphasis on innovation at the micro level of individuals and teams. Horowitt and Hwang have given San Diego a thoughtful, well-researched look at what it takes to build innovation capacity.

January 11, 2013

A report released today detailed the impact of Qualcomm Incorporated—San Diego County’s largest private employer—on the regional economy.  Sponsored by San Diego Workforce Partnership with guidance and insight from San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation,  “The Economic Impact of Qualcomm: Driving San Diego’s Technology Growth,” provides insights and analysis into the economic contributions of Qualcomm as well as the broader telecommunications and information technology (T&IT) industries in San Diego. The report also includes a workforce needs assessment.
 
The mobile giant’s presence in the regional economy adds $4.53 billion in economic activity annually, equal to about three percent of the county’s Gross Regional Product (GRP) in 2010. Every dollar generated directly by the company equates to nearly $2 of economic activity in the region, making the yearly economic impact of Qualcomm equivalent to one and half 2012 London Olympic Games.  
Take a look at the complete study and executive summary.