EDC, WTCSD host international delegations for Invest in San Diego event

Kicking off this year’s BIO International Conference, San Diego Regional EDC and World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD) hosted an Invest in San Diego breakfast event together with Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Biocom. The regional ‘pitch’ event played host to more than 100 attendees representing international delegations including South Korea, Canada, Taiwan, France, and more.

With idyllic views of the harbor and downtown, City of San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria kicked off the program highlighting the Life Sciences industry as a crucial pillar of San Diego’s economy. He underscored the region’s commitment to fostering industry growth through initiatives such as the Life Sciences Industry Accelerator, designed to streamline permitting for Life Sciences projects within San Diego.

EDC SVP and Executive Director of WTCSD Nikia Clarke then presented on San Diego’s competitive advantages:

  • San Diego is a top three Life Sciences market with a robust research and development hub and a growing manufacturing sector. With more than 60,000 total Life Sciences jobs countywide, 33 percent are dedicated to manufacturing.
  • The region boasts more than 80 research and 25 post-secondary institutions. Conferring approximately 17,000 STEM degrees annually, San Diego is growing its degree-holding population at a faster rate than any other California metro.
  • San Diego’s proximity to Mexico provides dynamic cross-border economic opportunities for businesses to access additional skilled talent and Baja California’s manufacturing expertise in medical devices and more.

The event concluded with a panel moderated by Miguel Motto, Vice President, Strategic Operations and San Diego Office Head of Biocom, together with panelists Matt Abernethy of Neurocrine Biosciences, Sarah Boyce of Avidity Biosciences, Alison Budelsky of Eli Lilly, and Jeff Labbadia of Element Biosciences. With representation from Life Sciences companies of all sizes, the panelists shared why they continue to expand in San Diego. Although their individual stories are unique, they all made one thing clear: they invest in San Diego because of its diverse and highly skilled talent pool, collaborative spirit, and unrivaled quality of life.

Interested in investing in San Diego?

EDC and WTCSD work directly with companies—free of charge—to help them grow in San Diego. Contact our team today:

Emily Irion
Emily Irion

Manager, Economic Development

Learn more here

Looking into the 2024 crystal ball

Sticking the ‘soft’ landing

Happy new year from your local, recovering economist!

After another year filled with uncertainty and the seemingly ever long tail of pandemic-related disruptions, we enter 2024 with a whole host of questions—some new, some recurring.

The past year was dominated by the prognostications of a looming recession. Goldman Sachs famously gave it a 100 percent probability and even the Federal Reserve was bracing for an economic downturn as recently as the summer.

However, it is worth stating the obvious here that the United States did not go into a recession. Throughout 2023, measures of economic growth consistently beat expectations. In the fourth quarter of the year, the economy grew at an annualized rate of 3.3 percent fueled by consumer spending as well as business investment. We saw record corporate profitability, a strong labor market that added nearly three million jobs, and even inflation slow significantly and come close to the Fed’s comfort level of two percent.

Locally, we ended the year with 23,400 more jobs. Investment also came into the San Diego region from both public and private sources. Startups raised another $4 billion in venture capital funding and San Diego received $950 million in federal funding for cleantech development.

There are more jobs in San Diego than ever before, however there are fewer people available to do them. Over the last 12 months, the labor force declined and it is expected that our prime-working age population will shrink in the coming years. Part of this is due to accelerated retirements brought about by the pandemic; part is due to the ever-increasing cost of living. The median-priced home is now more than $1 million with a monthly mortgage payment of more than $5,300.

So, 2024…

Looking to the year ahead, we are approaching a unique moment to accelerate large scale transformation around the future of work and the built environment.

Employers are offering remote and flexible work arrangements at higher rates than during the height of the pandemic. The rapid adoption of generative AI tools is changing how work is done and re-defining what skill development means, favoring agility over ability. There are 32,000 employers nationwide competing for workers with AI skills. In San Diego, there have been more than 5,200 unique job postings seeking AI skills since the launch of ChatGPT just over a year ago.

The permanence of remote work offerings has led to a re-imagining of the office with a flight toward quality. Many employers remain unsure of when and who should return to the office (we can help). These decisions will have profound implications for the future use of office space across our region, of which there is more than 10 million square feet currently vacant, with several million more planned, under construction, or with leases coming due in the next year.

While affordability remains abysmally low, housing production has ramped up with permitting activity expected to match levels not seen since 2017. This is still not enough new housing to meet demand, but still very welcome development (pun intended!). Additionally, rent growth seems to have plateaued and returned to pre-pandemic rates giving renters a much-needed pause in increases.

And yet, nothing that our region will face in 2024 is inevitable. What lies ahead is both a familiar challenge and a new opportunity for inclusive growth. A challenge to meet the talent needs of our employers, and an opportunity to remove barriers to entry into the workforce. A challenge to promote quality job growth in small businesses, and an opportunity to shift spending toward local, diverse suppliers. A challenge to address affordability, and an opportunity to re-imagine our urban core to retain high-paying jobs and provide housing for working families.

It’s a tall order, but our region is hungry. Let’s get to work!

Eduardo Velasquez
Eduardo Velasquez

Sr. Director, Research & Economic Development


Read 2023’s edition: Looking into the crystal ball…

More FROM EDC’s research bureau

More on inclusive growth

A note on the new year

Dear EDC partners and investors,

Reflecting on our past year at San Diego Regional EDC, I turn to the conversations and moments I’ve been privileged to share with many of you across the San Diego community.

Each month, on a Wednesday morning overlooking the greens at Torrey Pines (or via Zoom screen), more than 60 board members from across San Diego’s industries—life sciences to defense, breweries to sports—have created space to connect, collaborate, partner, and assess our progress toward the region’s Inclusive Growth goals: 20K post-secondary completions annually, 75K newly thriving households, and 50K new quality jobs in small businesses by 2030. We know this is a marathon, not a sprint, and we’re in it for the long haul.

Our Board represents businesses born and grown here, new market entrants, large businesses with global reach, small, family-owned firms, nonprofits, academia, and anchor institutions in between. All of us have one thing in common: a commitment to the future of San Diego.

If we have learned anything about economic development over the years, it’s that we can neither stay the status quo nor stick to our swim lanes. We must work together, in our different ways, to ensure a resilient and competitive San Diego for employers and residents alike. In 2024, here’s how you can lean into this work with us:

  • While every company grapples with its post-pandemic approach to employee retention and return to office, participate in EDC’s study to understand your workforce’s needs
  • Support talent pipeline development and host summer interns in computing, engineering, or business—paid for through grant funding and sourced from San Diego’s Verified Programs
  • Support small businesses through procurement by joining the Anchor Institution Collaborative
  • Endorse the Inclusive Growth goals and adopt strategies to create more quality jobs, skilled talent, and thriving households in San Diego
  • Stay tuned for World Trade Center San Diego’s trade mission to draw regional investment and elevate San Diego’s global identity
  • Join 150 local companies and institutions in investing in EDC’s programs, research, and goals

The steps we take on this journey will be underpinned by EDC’s Research Bureau, market strategy, talent initiatives—and reliant on your investment—to help grow San Diego’s economy.

Join us in this work in 2024.

In gratitude,

Ms. Jennie Brooks
Ms. Jennie Brooks

EDC Board Chair

Executive Vice President


Read EDC’s Monthly Report

Reflections on our Korea Trade Mission

From San Diego to Korea: Collaborative partnerships to strengthen global competitiveness

It has been six years since World Trade Center San Diego—which EDC operates on behalf of the Port, the Airport, and the City of San Diego—ran its very first trade mission. Since then, we have taken annual targeted, cross-sector delegations to Canada, the UK, Japan, Germany, and the Netherlands. Led by Mayors and Members of Congress, flanked by Port, Airport, and University leadership, and accompanied by senior executives from our most innovative firms, these trade missions connect San Diego companies large and small to international markets, seek foreign investment that creates new jobs in our region, and tell the San Diego story: one of life-changing innovation and collaboration.

This year’s destination: Korea. And like every other year, San Diego showed up and impressed. Led by Mayor Todd Gloria—and joined this time by SANDAG and County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Nora Vargas—this year’s trade delegation of more than 30 civic, academic, and corporate partners also included peer organizations like Biocom and the Tijuana and Imperial Valley EDCs, as well as companies like Qualcomm, Illumina, Dexcom, ASML, General Dynamics NASSCO, and more.

At a time when more than a trillion dollars of federal investments are aimed at modernizing American infrastructure, enabling a green energy transition, and building domestic capacity in strategic industries like semiconductors and biomanufacturing, Korea is a natural partner for the United States, as evidenced by the deepening collaboration between our two countries. Korea is second only to China in manufacturing intensity, and Korean firms produce almost 25 percent of all EV batteries and almost 60 percent of global memory chips used in phones and laptops.

Why Korea →

There is also perhaps no more complementary partner for an innovation incubator like San Diego than a country that scales innovation more efficiently than anywhere else.

The trade mission opened with a Sunday visit to the residence of the Governor of Gyeonggi-do, Korea’s largest and most dynamic province. Governor Kim and his cabinet hosted us for a roundtable discussion focused on revitalizing the MOU between the state of California and Gyeonggi. We delivered a letter from Governor Newsom and invited a return delegation to visit California in 2024 to continue the conversation on economic cooperation.

This set the stage for a whirlwind four days packed from morning to night with more than 15 briefings, meetings, and events:

  • With the help of Dentons and the U.S. Embassy, we convened representatives from more than 30 of the largest Korean companies for an Invest San Diego Luncheon. We provided an economic overview of investment opportunities throughout the binational mega-region, followed by quick pitches on manufacturing, energy, innovation, and real estate projects from Tijuana, Imperial Valley, and San Diego.
  • We visited the rapidly growing Korean offices of Illumina and Qualcomm, and announced a new partnership between San Diego’s Dexcom and Korean tech giant Kakao.
  • We toured and met with leadership of Samsung Biologics, which in just a few years has grown into the world’s largest contract manufacturer of biologics and is considering the location of a large investment in the United States.
  • We celebrated partnerships between UCSD and SDSU—both developing new state of the art innovation districts—and Seoul National and Yonsei Universities, two of South Korea’s finest.
  • We spent a day in the City of Incheon—a city of millions that has been master planned and developed on land reclaimed from the ocean over the last two decades and is now the innovation hub of the greater Seoul area. Incheon is also home to the international airport, completed in just eight years, as well as the Port, completed in four.

See the FULL agenda

Finally, we closed the trip with a VIP meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Korea Philip Goldberg to discuss the evolving political and economic environment in the region, followed by a reception at the Ambassador’s residence in the former legation district of Seoul. As is the tradition on these trade missions, this reception gave us an opportunity to reconnect with the hundreds of partners we met during the week, cement new friendships (and perhaps most importantly, make sure everyone knows which team to root for when the Padres play the Dodgers in the MLB opener in Seoul next March).

We returned home this week to a region in which the entire urban core is being reimagined—with massive mixed-use projects under construction from the border to the bay; to a country attempting to rebuild its infrastructure and establish new industries to take us into a cleaner, smarter future; and in a post-pandemic world where supply chains and geopolitical alliances are shifting rapidly.

One thing is clear: Our binational region has always been a remarkable place, but at this moment—with San Diego’s innovation ecosystem, Imperial Valley’s clean energy leadership, and Tijuana’s advanced manufacturing prowess—we can compete like never before. Add the right international partnerships like those we are building in Korea and elsewhere, and we have all the necessary pieces to anchor the supply chains of the future: collaboratively, efficiently, and sustainably.

Thank you to our sponsors Qualcomm, Dentons, and Townshend Venture Advisors, as well our partner the U.S. Embassy in South Korea for support on this trade mission.


Nikia Clarke
Nikia Clarke

Senior Vice President; Executive Director, World Trade Center San Diego



Learn about WTCSD’s trade missions


Mayor Todd Gloria to lead South Korea trade mission to strengthen economic ties in Asia


In order to foster vital global economic partnerships, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, SANDAG and San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Nora Vargas, and World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD), an affiliate of San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC), are leading a trade delegation to South Korea. During the October 27—November 2 trade mission, business and civic leaders will promote the region’s key industries and seek to establish and strengthen business relationships across biotechnology, semiconductors, clean energy, and infrastructure.

Monumental federal legislation (IIJA, IRA, and CHIPS and Science Act), combined with a generational shift in U.S. industrial strategy aimed at reducing American reliance on China, have positioned South Korea as a natural partner in critical industries. As the federal government continues to incentivize the reshoring and nearshoring of activities aligned to national priorities, leaders from across San Diego, Imperial Valley, and Tijuana are maximizing growth through global connection.                         

“South Korea is a critical global market and a natural partner for San Diego as we share complementary strengths in the life sciences, clean energy, and biotechnology sectors,” said Mayor Todd Gloria. “I’m proud to again join the World Trade Center San Diego on a trade mission to strengthen business relationships and grow quality jobs here at home for San Diegans.”

Home to Asia’s third busiest cargo airport and seventh largest port, South Korea is an emerging hub for global trade and business. As the U.S. strengthens its alliances in East Asia, San Diego finds in South Korea an economy with shared expertise in knowledge-intensive industries, including personalized medicine, semiconductor research and manufacturing, and clean energy. South Korean-based companies directly employ more than 850 San Diegans, predominantly in the technology and manufacturing industries at companies like Samsung and Hyundai. Notably, the U.S. and South Korea hold the #1 and #2 spots, respectively, in global market share of the semiconductor industry. Further, South Korean investment into the U.S. is accelerating, with $18.2 billion in new investment since mid-2020 alone. South Korea is the #13 country investing venture capital into San Diego by deal count, closely behind Germany and Singapore (2014—2020), primarily in the pharmaceuticals and technology industries.


 “The binational mega-region has always been a remarkable place, but at this moment for the global economy, we can compete like never before,” said Nikia Clarke, executive director of World Trade Center San Diego and senior vice president at San Diego Regional EDC. “With San Diego’s innovation ecosystem, Imperial Valley’s clean energy leadership, and Tijuana’s advanced manufacturing prowess, we have all the necessary pieces to anchor the supply chains of the future: collaboratively, efficiently, and sustainably.”

“I am looking forward to showcasing the advancements in clean energy technology, life sciences, and port infrastructure to elevate the best of what our binational region has to offer and identify new partnerships with South Korea to foster innovation and economic growth for both our regions,” said SANDAG and San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Nora Vargas. “This is an opportunity to increase trade and share new ideas that will help develop lasting solutions to improve our region’s infrastructure, transportation, and economy for the residents of San Diego County.”

Over the four-day trade mission in Seoul, Incheon, and Gyeonggi Province, San Diego will look to build lasting institutional relationships and attract foreign investment in industries that are critical to the future.

Agenda items include:

  • The celebration of a partnership between San Diego-based medtech company Dexcom and South Korean-based tech giant Kakao, which will enable Dexcom to bring its next-generation glucose monitoring capabilities to the South Korean market
  • Opportunities to showcase major regional development projects for foreign investors, including the Seaport Village redevelopment, Lithium Valley in Imperial County, as well as San Diego State University and UC San Diego’s campus expansions
  • Meetings with Port, Airport, and infrastructure partners to better connect our regions through nonstop air and liner service, as well as sharing energy transition innovations
  • Government convenings with the Governor of Gyeonggi and the Mayor of Siheung together with Mayor Todd Gloria and SANDAG and County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Nora Vargas
  • Formal meetings and tours of major employers in both regions, including Qualcomm, Illumina, and Samsung Biologics

Delegates will participate in upwards of 15 meetings over the course of the trade mission, sharing best practices and driving business connectivity across many verticals. The two dozen San Diego delegates include representatives from Illumina, Qualcomm, Viasat, ASML, Cubic, General Dynamics NASSCO, Gafcon, and small businesses including Tioga Research and Nano PharmaSolutions. Also in attendance are delegates from key agencies, universities, and civic organizations such as Port of San Diego, San Diego International Airport, UC San Diego, San Diego State University, San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), Imperial Valley EDC, Tijuana EDC, and others.

The trade mission is organized by World Trade Center San Diego, an affiliate of the San Diego Regional EDC, with assistance and support provided by the U.S. Embassy in South Korea, and sponsorship by Dentons, Townshend Venture Advisors, and Qualcomm.

Follow along with the trade mission: #SDinKR



Thank you to our trade mission sponsors:

A note from Mark…

October update: Implementing actionable insights

EDC Investors and Partners,

I hope you are enjoying the early days of fall in San Diego.

Those of you who have worked closely with our team at EDC over the last decade know that our core values have long been integrity, accountability, collaboration, and inclusion. We strive to ensure that these principles guide all that we do and are woven into the work of every team—and one of our most important teams at EDC is Research.

Our research is something I have always been quite proud of. You will frequently hear our team and board members say that everything we do at EDC starts with research. I have even heard more than one of our current board officers cite research as our organizational “superpower.”

When we reestablished the EDC Research Bureau, it was mainly to ensure that the internal decisions we were making, the goals we were setting, and the information we were providing on the San Diego economy was accurate and up-to-date. Over the years, we realized that our data and information was at its most powerful when it was being shared with audiences and decision makers outside of the organization.

More and more partners and investors began asking us to use our research to help understand the economic impact of a business or project, a certain sector of the economy, a new market or customer base, and more. Our team has partnered and worked with the Brookings Institution, AECOM, UCSD, SDSU, SANDAG, CBRE, CA EDD, County Office of Education, BW Research, and other partners to ensure that our data remains relevant, free from bias, and helpful in creating more quality jobs, skilled talent, and thriving households across our region.

As the organization has grown and the work has evolved, so has the research. Over the last year, EDC’s Research Bureau has:

And as the challenges, opportunities, and work pertaining to talent, equity and diversity, cost of living, and technology continue to evolve, we will again make sure that our team is moving and changing as well. In the year ahead, our Research Bureau will focus on better understanding and supporting the changing needs of small business as well as the ‘future of work’ and its impact on commercial real estate.

If interested in sponsoring and investing in our research into 2024, we welcome those conversations and opportunities. Please reach out to Eduardo Velasquez—our Sr. Director of Research and Economic Development—if you would like to learn more. After all these years, I can still assure you that everything we do at EDC starts with research, just as I can assure you that an investment in our EDC research team is an investment in accountability, integrity, collaboration, and inclusion.

Thanks as always for your leadership, partnership, and support.

Mark Cafferty
Mark Cafferty

President & CEO

Read EDC’s Monthly Report

The economic impact of San Diego’s RNA cluster

EDC study explores the power and impact of RNA before and beyond COVID-19

Together with 1STRAND, EDC released “San Diego’s RNA cluster: Powering public health and the economy,” a comprehensive overview and economic impact assessment of San Diego’s RNA cluster, including direct input from industry representatives and stakeholders.

The power of gene expression manipulation has unlocked possibilities that were once unthought of—advanced treatments for cancer, HIV vaccines, personalized medicine, and more. These scientific achievements, discoveries, and events have catalyzed the growth of RNA innovation and therapeutics.

Home to dozens of RNA firms supporting more than 11,000 jobs, San Diego is especially well positioned to lead in RNA therapeutics innovation, promising a bright future for the region’s Life Sciences ecosystem and the broader economy.


  • San Diego’s RNA cluster is a major contributor to the regional economy, with a nearly $6 billion annual impact. For every 100 jobs generated within the cluster, an additional 150 jobs are supported across the region.
  • San Diego’s RNA cluster has capabilities in both research and development (R&D) and manufacturing. While R&D leads RNA activities in the region, San Diego’s expertise in advanced manufacturing offers a solid foundation for further growth.
  • Leveraging its expertise in RNA technology, San Diego proved resilient and important in the fight against COVID-19. The region drew in $59 million from the National Institutes of Health (or NIH) and employment grew nine percent through 2021.
  • Software development jobs continue to grow within San Diego RNA firms. Demand for these professionals is expected to rise as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI-ML) are further integrated.
  • Talent attraction is a major challenge for local RNA companies. Compensation is not keeping pace with San Diego’s high cost of living and puts the region seventh out of 10 in average wages among peer metros.

RNA and RNA therapeutics sit at the intersection of four sectors: R&D, manufacturing, trade, and healthcare. These include operations such as medical laboratories, production of biological materials and lab instruments, drug wholesalers, and consulting services to name a few—all of which are part of a broader ecosystem of industries fueling San Diego’s RNA cluster. This broader ecosystem feeds RNA clusters across the country, and San Diego consistently ranks among the top 10 metros in terms of total jobs, job concentration, and average wages. Peer metros includes Life Sciences heavyweights Boston and San Francisco, as well as parts of the North Carolina Research Triangle and tech hubs Seattle and San Jose.

Among peer metros, San Diego ranks:

  • #2 in job growth (nine percent) from 2021
  • #2 in projected job growth (13 percent) by 2027
  • #3 in number of job postings
  • #4 in median advertised salary for RNA jobs at just under $85,000
  • #7 in average hourly compensation ($56.68) for RNA jobs
  • Home to #5 most funded institution in the U.S. in RNA-related projects, and #2 in California – UCSD

The study was produced by EDC on behalf of 1STRAND in June 2023. Learn more about EDC’s research here.


Learn more on Life Sciences in San Diego

A note from Mark…

Look for the good.

EDC investors and partners:

It might be easy to look at headlines or social media these days and feel a bit weighed down by the news in San Diego. When those chosen to lead important roles fail us, it creates distrust, anger, and frustration that can make its way into all our lives. Yet at the same time, it is important to look away from the headlines and remember who we really are as a community and as a region, and refocus our time and energy on the leadership and contributions that continue to make San Diego shine.

Just this week, 60 leaders came together to address the regional workforce and supply chain needs of San Diego’s defense industrial base. Together with San Diego Military Advisory Council, San Diego Ship Repair Association, NAVSEA, and the IBAS SHIP program, the day-long event served to support near-term and future needs for shipbuilders, submarines manufacturers, and supply chain partners who support thousands of jobs in the region.

The City of San Diego’s Development Services Department just launched its Life Science Industry Pilot Program to provide dedicated permitting resources and information to help the industry expand and succeed in San Diego.

In the weeks ahead, we will celebrate World Trade Week and conclude the sixth round of our MetroConnect program, which has collectively supported 95 small and mid-sized businesses in accessing new international markets. We also look ahead to another Mayor-led trade mission, this time to Korea—a dynamic and innovative country which promises to be a force in the global economy throughout this century.

And, as EDC always tracks, you can count on the region’s employers, anchors, and industries to weekly make ‘Good News’ headlines.

In closing—and to seize the momentum of the SDSU Men’s Basketball Team’s historic run to the NCAA National Championship Game—let’s continue to find those successes, challenges, and opportunities that bring us together as a region. While we have lots of work to do throughout the City and County, I am certain that if we look closely enough, we will see that we are still surrounded by the leadership and partnership needed to get things done. I know that is how we feel at EDC every day.

With respect and admiration for your ongoing leadership, contributions, and support,

Mark Cafferty
Mark Cafferty

President & CEO

Read EDC’s Monthly Report

Study: San Diego’s Life Sciences cluster in the early stages of AI-ML boom

EDC study quantifies the impact of AI in region’s Life Sciences cluster

Today alongside underwriter Booz Allen Hamilton, San Diego Regional EDC released the fourth study in a series on the proliferation of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI-ML) within San Diego County’s key economic clusters. “Diagnosing the Future: AI and San Diego’s Life Sciences Cluster” quantifies the economic impact of the region’s Life Sciences cluster and explores the proliferation of AI and ML technologies being used to diagnose disease and develop drugs, among other lifesaving products and solutions.

While the pandemic devastated many sectors of our economy, the Life Sciences cluster experienced a striking 11.2 percent job growth (51 percent over the last decade). The cluster boasts a $27 billion annual economic impact, with 1,800 Life Sciences firms employing more than 61,000 San Diegans—nearly three times as many Life Sciences jobs as the national average. Taking advantage of the region’s innovation ecosystem, San Diego’s Life Sciences cluster has increasingly integrated software and technology to maximize its impact, save time, and reduce costs.

Underwritten by Booz Allen Hamilton, the web-based study—lifesciences.sandiegoAI.org—includes company case studies on local use of AI-ML, San Diego’s standing relative to peer metros in AI-ML integration, a timeline on the history of Life Sciences in San Diego, and the business case for economic inclusion within the cluster, among other assessment.

“This series serves to spotlight the importance of AI-ML application within the region’s key industries, helping drive productivity, job growth, and scientific innovation here and around the globe. With so many Life Sciences companies yet to fully tap into AI-ML, the impact we are already seeing in San Diego is just beginning,” said Mark Cafferty, president and CEO, EDC. “As always, EDC is committed to helping these firms thrive, creating more quality jobs for San Diegans.”


  • San Diego is a top Life Sciences growth market among AI-ML peer metros. The region has nearly three times as many Life Sciences jobs as the national average and commanded more than 13 percent of domestic venture funding into the industry in 2021.
  • San Diego’s Life Sciences companies are in the early stages of AI-ML adoption, paving way for exponential impact. While several San Diego Life Sciences subindustries have leveraged AI-ML technology in significant ways, just 18 percent of local firms are engaging with AI-ML.
  • San Diego Life Sciences companies have an outsized appetite for AI-ML talent but lag peer metros in accessibility and compensation. Local Life Sciences employers’ hiring for AI-ML talent largely demand post-secondary education but offer relatively low advertised compensation as compared to peer metros, which hinders the ability to compete for talent.
  • San Diego’s AI-ML talent pool is active and growing. The region already has a strong and growing supply of more than 15,000 AI-ML professionals across all industries. Rising degree completions in interdisciplinary fields, alongside new programs dedicated to producing AI-ML talent promise to deepen the talent pool.

“Whether for venture capital investment, jobs, talent, or innovation, San Diego is an undeniable leader in Life Sciences—changing the way patients around the world experience healthcare,” said Jennie Brooks, Senior Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton—board chair and underwriter of the EDC study series—and leader of the firm’s 1,200+ person San Diego office. “For less time and money, the integration of AI-ML can help firms further accelerate scientific discovery, but we need the talent to make it happen. While the Life Sciences proved resilient amid the pandemic, talent gaps are pervasive—with pay and access as the primary threats to our economic competitiveness.”

Life Sciences is an integral and rapidly growing piece of the San Diego regional economy. In 2021 alone, San Diego Life Sciences companies pulled in 13.1 percent of the $38.6 billion invested into Life Sciences nationwide. Supporting this growth, San Diego ranks fourth (4,300 in 2020) in Life Sciences degree completions among peer metros. Future and ongoing investment in Life Sciences companies and talent—most especially around compensation and accessibility—will ensure the longevity of this high impact industry and support its ability to compete.

“Our Informatics and Predictive Sciences team in San Diego is deploying AI-ML to accelerate the drug discovery process. These approaches benefit virtually every aspect of drug discovery from accelerating the rate at which our chemistry teams can optimize compounds, to allowing us to better predict which patient populations are most likely to benefit from a novel medicine. The objective is to enable BMS to bring successful and safe medications to patients faster by leveraging AI-ML,” said Neil Bence, Ph.D., Vice President of Oncology Discovery and San Diego Site Head, Bristol Myers Squibb

The study series is underwritten by Booz Allen Hamilton and produced by San Diego Regional EDC.  Learn more about EDC’s research here.


Read the full AI series

Mayor Todd Gloria to lead Netherlands trade mission to strengthen economic ties with EU


In order to foster vital global economic partnerships, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD), an affiliate of San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC), are leading a delegation to the Netherlands. During the September 26—29 trade mission, business and civic leaders will promote San Diego’s key industries, establish and strengthen business relationships, and explore best practices in urban mobility, climate action and sustainability, and technology and science innovation.

Against the backdrop of severe supply chain disruptions, shifting geopolitics governing the development of critical strategic technologies, and accelerating climate action and affordability mandates, San Diego leaders have made economic resilience by way of global competitiveness a top priority.                                          

“San Diego is an undeniable force in the global marketplace, and we must seize opportunities to tell our story and maximize investment from partners around the world,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. “As we work to address our region’s biggest challenges—affordability, urban mobility, climate change, and more—I’m proud to join World Trade Center San Diego in the Netherlands to learn from like thriving, global cities.”

Home to Europe’s largest port and fourth busiest cargo airport, the Netherlands is a hub for global trade and business. With shared expertise in knowledge-intensive industries, including personalized medicine, wireless communications technology, and artificial intelligence, and a societal commitment to sustainability, climate action, and social innovation, the Netherlands is among the top 10 countries for foreign direct investment into San Diego (#6 in 2015—2020). Netherlands-based companies directly employ 5,000 San Diegans, predominately in the innovation economy at companies like ASML and Philips. By deal count, the Netherlands is the #9 country investing venture capital into San Diego, in line with Denmark and falling closely behind Japan, France and India (2015—2020). Further, Dutch firms invested nearly $318 million into San Diego’s economy in 2021 alone.

Learn more on the two regions

“On the heels of a pandemic that changed the world, WTCSD is grateful to be taking San Diego global once again,” said Nikia Clarke, executive director of World Trade Center San Diego and senior vice president at San Diego Regional EDC. “As the economy continues to transform around us, it is increasingly important for metro leaders to advance a compelling vision that keeps us ahead of the curve, and no one can tell the San Diego story better than Mayor Gloria and this cross-sector delegation.”

Over the three-day trade mission in cities Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, Eindhoven, and Leiden, San Diego will look to bolster public-private partnerships and business expansion through various sessions with Dutch companies and institutions.

Agenda items include:

  • The grand opening/ribbon cutting of Qualcomm’s AI Research Lab, which has formalized a partnership with the University of Amsterdam to support a pipeline of engineering talent.
    Read more →
  • Amid massive pressure for expansion, a meeting and tour of ASML—the global leader in semiconductor manufacturing machines (lithography)—at its Veldhoven headquarters to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its investment in its San Diego-based Cymer site.
    Read more →
  • Local, minority-owned small businesses Trabus Technologies and Nano PharmaSolutions will pitch to the Port of Rotterdam and Leiden University Medical Center respectively.
    Read more →
  • Mayor-to-Mayor meetings with Todd Gloria and the Mayors of Amsterdam and Rotterdam to strengthen relationships between our regions
  • Formal meetings and tours of several companies considering investment into San Diego and California as led by San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria

Delegates will participate in upwards of 15 meetings over the course of the trade mission, sharing best practices and driving business connectivity across many verticals. The two dozen San Diego delegates include representatives from Qualcomm, ASML, Mitsubishi Electric, Trabus Technologies, Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc., Gafcon, Arup, HomeFed Corporation, Townshend Venture Advisors and more. Also in attendance are delegates from key San Diego agencies, universities and civic organizations such as Port of San Diego, UC San Diego, San Diego State University, San Diego Association of Governments, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority and others.

The trade mission is organized by World Trade Center San Diego, an affiliate of the San Diego Regional EDC, with assistance and support provided by the U.S. Embassy in The Hague, the Consulate of the Netherlands, and sponsorship by ASML, Lufthansa and Qualcomm.

 “With shared commitments to sustainability and innovation, more than 76,000 jobs in California are supported by U.S.-Netherlands trade. This trip is one example of how we can work together across borders to remain competitive in a global economy,” said Consul General Dirk Janssen, Consulate of the Netherlands in San Francisco.

Follow along with us next week during the trade mission: #SDinNL


Thank you to our Thriving Cities Trade Mission sponsors: