San Diego’s Growing Digital Global Footprint

The technology that will power a post-COVID world is being invented and perfected in our backyard.  San Diego’s leading tech, defense, and life science companies are making large investments to prepare for a world that will be increasingly digital, connected, and autonomous. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data science are transforming nearly every industry, giving rise to important discussions concerning jobs, ethics, and privacy.

Against the backdrop of rising protectionism and an escalating US-China conflict, the evolution of a global policy regime governing the development and deployment of strategic technology will have massive implications for both national security as well as US competitiveness.

Through the Global Competitiveness Council (GCC), San Diego leaders came together to discuss these key issues along with companies who are at the forefront of every disruptive trend reshaping the world today.

San Diego companies to keep an eye on:

LunaDNA

Our region is known around the world for its unparalleled life sciences companies and LunaDNA is an exceptional example data science and AI in health sciences. LunaDNA, founded by Luna Public Benefit Corporation (LunaPBC) is a community-owned platform for health research. Anyone can join, share their health data, and receive ownership shares in the company. When researchers conduct studies on the data on the LunaDNA secure platform, the proceeds are passed back to the community as dividends.

ServiceNow

ServiceNow believes in the power of technology to reduce the complexity in our jobs and make work, work better for people. The company transforms old, manual ways of working into modern digital workflows. Employees and customers get what they need, when they need it-exactly what every company needs in light of COVID-19.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI)

San Diego-headquartered General Atomics-ASI specializes in research and technology development, providing remotely operated surveillance aircraft. GA-ASI’s innovations and high-tech solutions have produced a growing line of versatile, reliable, cost-effective, and proven Remotely Piloted Aircraft.

Booz Allen Hamilton

Consulting firm, Booz-Allen, brings bold thinking and a desire to be the best in its work on consulting, analytics, digital solutions, engineering, and cyber, and with industries ranging from defense to health to energy to international development.

Brain Corp

Brain Corp provides autonomous solutions that enable OEMs and Robotics Startups to turn their manually driven products into intelligent machines. The company is now focused on developing advanced machine learning and computer vision systems for the next generation of self-driving robots.

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San Diego science: how genomics is addressing the global pandemic

San Diego is ranked the among the top genomics markets in the nation, and we have world leaders in next-generation sequencing (NGS) in our backyard. With access to genomic experts and innovative companies who are paving the way for the future of medicine, our region has become a hotspot for transformative life-changing science.

On June 23, San Diego: Life. Changing., EDC’s talent attraction campaign, hosted a panel with scientists who are studying modern genomics to address COVID-19. This panel, titled “San Diego Science & the Global Pandemic: Genomics”, was the second event in a series of virtual panels. We made sure this panel was attractive to everyone, meaning whether you have a PhD or you are a freshman-year-biology-class drop out, the expert panelists broke down the science into layman’s terms to tell the attendees what they need to know about the future of precision medicine and COVID-19.

The panel was moderated by Kathy Lynch, Vice President, Global Government Affairs & Public Policy for Illumina, who plays a critical role in connecting San Diego science with global markets. She moderated a fascinating panel with two distinguished (and very local) scientists.

The first panelist, Gary P. Schroth, Ph.D., Vice President and Distinguished Scientist at Illumina, uses next-generation sequencing (NGS) to study genomics, gene structure, expression and regulation and applies this to projects in the fields of cancer, immunology, microbiology and infectious disease. Over the course of his career Dr. Schroth has been an author on more than 95 peer reviewed research papers and holds 19 U.S. patents.

The second panelist, Dr. James Lu, M.D., Ph.D. is the Co-founder & Chief Science Officer at Helix. Dr. Lu is responsible for the scientific teams which includes bioinformatics, laboratory operations, regulatory, quality, translational research and policy teams.

The panelists wasted no time before delving into the panel, always being cognizant that the majority of their audience did not have a science background. The topics included an overview of NGS, the history of COVID-19, how COVID-19 strains differ from one another and how the strains evolve and travel differently, testing capabilities for the region, as well as other related issues.

Through the panel, it was clear that location in the San Diego region is a top choice for genomics companies and talent. Illumina was founded here 22 years ago and the region has essentially been the heart of genomics renaissance. Many well-established companies are here, as well as tons of startups. The company density paired with the talent pool from local colleges, makes this area a hotbed of genomic activity. There is an immense amount of opportunity that breeds exceptional employees and competitive hiring practices, forcing companies to constantly up their game. 20 years ago if you were a molecular biologist, you wouldn’t have thought of San Diego as a place to start or grow your career – now, the area is at the top of your list.

As this work is all-consuming, during all hours of the day for the last six months, Dr. Gary Schroth joked that he “couldn’t remember what he used to work on” before COVID. This panel made it very clear that the genomics industry in San Diego is at the forefront of COVID research. San Diego is a hotbed of activity and a great place to start or grow your career in life science.

 

 

For more COVID-19 recovery resources and information, please visit this page.

Regardless of how this all plays out, EDC is here to help. You can use the button below to request our assistance with finding information, applying to relief programs, and more.

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Four SD companies on the forefront of the coronavirus battle

With a research institution named after the inventor of the polio vaccine, and the region’s contributions to fighting global health crises such as Ebola and HIV, San Diego has developed a reputation for bringing life-changing treatments to the world.

As the coronavirus progresses to a global pandemic, the life sciences industry, governments and NGOs are racing to bring treatments and tests to scale.

Here are four San Diego companies at the forefront of bringing COVID-19 solutions to market:

  1. Arcturus Therapeutics – One significant challenge with manufacturing vaccines is the size of the dose needed to inoculate a patient. Leveraging self-replicating RNA technology, Arcturus says it can inject smaller doses because it creates an antigen that continues to replicate in the body. If successful, this may also mean goodbye to booster shots. The La Jolla-based company is now identifying partnerships to bring the vaccine to market. 
  2. Inovio Pharmaceuticals – This company is already sprinting ahead in its quest to deliver a DNA-based vaccine. Inovio has racked up a combined $14 million in grants between the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Inovio’s core research lab is based out of San Diego.
  3. Mesa Biotech– As COVID-19 spreads, people are clamoring to get rapid diagnostic information. San Diego-based Mesa Biotech is undergoing clinical trials in China, where individuals will be able to get lab-quality test results in approximately 30 minutes.
  4. Thermo Fisher Scientific – Leave it to the world’s largest manufacturer of laboratory equipment to develop a testing solution. With the FDA’s approval, Thermo Fisher will produce a test kit that can diagnose within four hours, with the potential to diagnose as many as 5 million people in a week. Thermo Fisher says all 75,000 global employees have been involved in its COVID-19 response, which includes employees in its Carlsbad operation. 

We know there are additional San Diego companies out there, and we willcontinue to elevate this conversation in the weeks ahead.

In the meantime, we have put together this page with guidance and resources to help San Diego businesses navigate these unprecedented times.

If you are a San Diego business and we can help in any way, please contact us

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Related EDC articles and research:

26 life sciences PhD’s trek to San Diego to explore industry

Last week, EDC welcomed a group of next-gen life sciences leaders to San Diego for an exclusive tour of the region’s life sciences industry. Over two days, 26 eager PhD candidates representing 15 schools across 11 states paid visits to seven local employers including ResMed, Takeda, BD, Janssen/JLABS, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Dexcom, and Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine. Upon completion of their PhD program, these students will enter high-demand occupations within the life sciences industry – namely, positions in bioinformatics, computational biology, genomics, and more. Our hope is that they chose to do so in our region.

EDC launched the San Diego Life Sciences Trek in 2017 as a strategy for attracting talent to support the growth of the region’s life sciences industry, mirroring the more typical MBA Trek model. Across the globe, leaders in genomics and connected health are gathering incomprehensible amounts of data with the power to unlock the human genome, make personalized care a reality, and enhance the way we live on a massive scale. Individuals skilled in bioinformatics, data science, and computational biology are instrumental in deciphering such data sets – a task with stunning implications across pharma, biotech, healthcare, genomics, and much more – and are thus highly sought after by companies and regions alike. The battle for talent is heating up.

Many trek participants attend this two-day program because they are curious about a career in industry, but with backgrounds in academia, have had limited opportunities to explore what one might look like. The Life Sciences Trek provides students a chance to get out from behind the lab bench to tour companies, talk with real professionals, and learn how their skills can be applied in life-changing companies in San Diego.

Through company tours, panel discussions, presentations, and a networking reception, students gained access to influential researchers and executives across leading life sciences employers. From drug discovery to connected devices, genetic sequencing to direct patient care, the breadth of opportunities for bioinformaticians became apparent within San Diego’s diverse life sciences ecosystem. In fact, after attending the trek, 90 percent of participants indicated that they plan to pursue a career in San Diego upon completion of their PhD program.

Below are their thoughts. See more at #SDlifesciencestrek.

“It was a fantastic experience for someone who’s always been immersed in academia, but is interested in the industry.”

– PhD candidate in Bioinformatics, University of Michigan

“This was an incredible opportunity to network with the scientists that could be involved in hiring you in the future. It was an indispensable experience to see first hand the types of jobs that recent PhD graduates could be qualified for.”

– PhD candidate in Neuroscience, University of Southern California

“Seeing the positive testimonials from all the people at the companies regardless of their position about work-life culture will make me prioritize San Diego as my primary target for future job applications.”

– PhD candidate in Animal Biology with a focus on Biotechnology, UC Davis

“The trek was really eye-opening and definitely changed my perspective about potentially pursuing a career there!”

– PhD candidate in Cell and Molecular Biology, University of Southern California

“The SD trek is a great opportunity to familiarize yourself with biotech opportunities in SD and to learn about a great town with a lot of potential for aspiring scientists.”

– PhD candidate in Microbiology and Immunology, Dartmouth College

The trek group represented 15 schools: Carnegie Melon, Cornell, Dartmouth, Duke, Georgia Tech, Stanford, Ohio State, UC Davis, UC San Diego, UC Santa Cruz, University of Southern California, University of Idaho, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, University of Texas.

Trek highlights: Surprise guest Dr. Stephen Kingsmore, CEO of Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine and Guinness World Record holder for fastest genetic diagnosis through DNA sequencing.

You can’t talk about San Diego life sciences without talking about startups. Trek participants tour JLABS followed by a panel discussion moderated by Ashley Van Zeeland, co-founder of Cypher Genomics and former CTO of Human Longevity.

MiraCosta students mingle with Genentech, HLI, and BD at Link to San Diego: Life Sciences

The first cohort of biomanufacturing students at MiraCosta College is half way through their two-year bachelor’s degree program. That’s right – Oceanside-based MiraCosta Community College is one of only 15 community colleges in California to offer a bachelor’s degree program (114 total community colleges in CA). MiraCosta’s existing biotech associates degree program, which is the oldest in the county, helped the school gain prowess as a leading community college focused on life sciences. Building on that success, this new bachelor’s program will prepare students for work within San Diego’s lucrative biotechnology industry. The pioneer behind the program is Mike Fino: a UC San Diego Jacobs School alum, former industry researcher in regenerative medicine, and current Dean of Math & Sciences at MiraCosta.

With a background in industry, Mike Fino made the ideal moderator for EDC’s Link to San Diego: Life Sciences event at MiraCosta College in May. Formatted as a panel discussion followed by a networking session, Link to San Diego: Life Sciences welcomed representatives from Human Longevity Inc., Genentech, and BD to campus to speak about industry trends and lend advice to students on how they can prepare for a career in the San Diego industry. While open to all students, the program was primarily designed for MiraCosta’s biomanufacturing students to begin making industry connections and thinking about next steps as they work through their program.

The group of students who attended came prepared with resumes and thoughtful questions for the speakers. MiraCosta’s biomanufacturing BA program is a prime example of how San Diego’s community college system prepares its students based on the needs of our local economy, providing opportunities and value for residents and employers alike. Now, it’s our job to keep this bright and eager talent pool in San Diego.