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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Smart Cities

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.



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