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Life Sciences

“What’s working in America are these cooperative clusters. San Diego has become the human genome research capital in America. Now not every city can do that. But check out what they’ve done…”

Former President Bill Clinton
CNBC's “Closing Bell” program
June 5, 2012

The life sciences industry is a major driver of the innovation economy in the San Diego region. The region has more than 600 life science companies and more than 80 research institutes. The research institutes – along with the University of California, San Diego – provide the sector with breakthrough technologies that fuel company growth and product development. Major pharmaceutical companies including Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Merck maintain a presence in the region to foster collaboration with major research institutes, universities and smaller biotech companies. The region attracts graduate students and postdoctoral trainees from around the world. Many stay in the area to pursue academic research or positions in industry. The forecast for job growth through 2013 is approximately 3 percent.

Industry Highlights & Contributions

  • More than 42,000 employees in the region in these sectors:
    • Biopharmaceuticals
    • Research & Lab Services
    • Industrial Biotechnology & Biofuels
    • Life Sciences Trade (wholesale distribution)
    • Medical Devices & Diagnostics
  • Highest average wages in the region
    • $107,000 (Biotechnology & Pharmaceuticals)
    • $99,500 (Biomedical Devices and Products)
  • Attracts more than 60% of venture capital invested in the region
    • 2011 total = $893 million
    • 2011 Biotechnology = $498 million
    • 2011 Medical Devices & Equipment = $76 million



BIOCOM is the largest regional life sciences association in the world, and represents more than 550 member companies in Southern California.

BIOCOM Institute

The BIOCOM Institute serves as a bridge between learning institutions and life science companies to build comprehensive education initiatives that advance scientific literacy.


CONNECT has assisted in the formation and development of more than 2,000 companies since 1985 and is widely regarded as the world’s most successful regional program linking inventors and entrepreneurs with the resources they need for commercialization of products.

West Health

The Institute is dedicated to innovating, validating, advocating for, investing in and commercializing the use of wireless technologies to transform medicine.

Wireless Life Science Alliance

San Diego-based WLSA is a global trade organization that brings CEOs from the world’s most innovative wireless health companies together with business leaders and researchers in healthcare and technology, to accelerate business opportunities and improve healthcare.



  • BIOCOM 2012 Southern California Economic Impact report

  • Hendershot Economics

  • PricewaterhouseCoopers MoneyTree report

  • SANDAG 2012 Traded Industry Clusters in the San Diego Region report