San Diego’s Good News of the Year 2020

While the end of the year is about reflection, it has been challenging for all of us to celebrate 2020’s bright spots and successes. And yet, while our community grappled with global public health and social justice crises, we also saw San Diegans rise to the challenge—as they always do—to address a new virus, grow innovative companies, and make the world a better place.

Read on for the silver linings of 2020, all made possible by the region we call home. Here’s to continued collaboration, resilience, and inclusion in 2021.

-Team EDC

COVID-19 spurs life sciences innovation with global impact

At the onset of the pandemic, we saw our local biotechnology and research communities collaborate to create rapid testing, develop new treatments, and contribute to scientific efforts aimed at bringing a vaccine to the world. Here are just a few of this year’s breakthroughs with a San Diego stamp on them:

  • Pfizer develops COVID-19 vaccine with 95 percent efficacy rate
  • FDA approves first COVID-19 drug from Oceanside’s Gilead Sciences
  • Thermo Fisher Scientific ships first COVID-19 tests
  • BD wins FDA approval of 15-minute, hand-held COVID-19 test
  • Sanford Burnham Prebys wins $10M to test broad-spectrum antivirals to combat COVID-19
  • Vista’s Cue Health wins $481M to expand COVID-19 test manufacturing, adds jobs
  • FDA grants Quidel emergency-use status for first COVID-19 antigen test
  • Inovio gets $71M for COVID-19 vaccine device

Companies find creative solutions to crisis

Some COVID-19 inspired innovation isn’t so obvious. This year, from safe attractions to hand sanitizer, we saw San Diego companies big and small answer the call to innovate:

San Diego makes major strides in research and innovation

Beyond COVID-19, San Diego’s tech and life sciences companies continued to make waves in a diversity of industries, from oncology to aerospace to artificial intelligence (AI):

San Diego stays strong in defense with major contracts

In 2020, an estimated 25 percent of San Diego’s gross regional product was a result of military spending, and we saw key regional players score major contracts:

Venture capital skyrockets, yields big rewards

Venture capital into the region skyrocketed this year, as San Diego companies responded to the challenges of the pandemic. In Q2 and Q3 alone, local life sciences and healthcare companies pulled in $1.4B in new investment—75 percent of all funding. Some of San Diego’s standout startups and raises include:

  • GoSite raises $56M total to help small businesses go online
  • Software unicorn Seismic raises $92M
  • Lytx receives new investment, earns unicorn status
  • Escient Pharmaceuticals raises $77.5M to target proteins with therapeutic potential
  • Flock Freight raises $113.5M to pool truck freight shipments
  • Newly relocated from the Bay Area, ClickUp raises $135M, earns unicorn status

San Diego earns the numbers to back it up

From heavyweights to fast-growing startups, our local companies, talented workforce, and innovative industries remained at the forefront of growth and innovation. We even have the numbers to prove it:

  • San Diego ranks no. 3 in U.S. for life sciences
  • Qualcomm, LunaPBC make Fast Co.’s 2020 ‘Most Innovative Company’ lists
  • San Diego is one of five cities accounting for 90 percent of tech jobs
  • Taylor Guitars sees record sales, renewed interest in guitars
  • Innovative Commercial Environments, join 112 local companies on Inc. 5000
  • Chula Vista ranks as top city for integrating immigrants in the U.S.

Airport, regional companies foster continued connection

This year, we’ve learned that staying connected is key. Whether helping small businesses adapt to remote work or adding critical flights from San Diego, we saw regional players work hard to keep us safely connected to resources, opportunities, and each other:

San Diego makes the region—and the world—a better place

Making the world a better place is no small feat. These are just a fraction of the many ways regional teams made us prouder than ever to be San Diegans:


Our Top 20 in 2020

Between a global pandemic, a racial justice reckoning, and an ever-contentious political landscape, this year had nobody ‘seeing 2020’. And yet, here we are—turning the page into the new year, with many of the same problems of 2020, but with greater resilience, forward thinking, and commitment to inclusion.

With and through our nearly 200 investors, EDC is proud to have directly helped nearly 500 San Diego businesses through crisis and recovery. Read our top 20 of 2020.