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.”

KEY FINDINGS

  • 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.

FULL STUDY AT LIFESCIENCES.SANDIEGOAI.ORG

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San Diego’s Economic Snapshot: Q2 2022

Every quarter, San Diego Regional EDC analyzes key economic indicators that are important to understanding the regional economy and the region’s standing relative to the 25 most populous metropolitan areas in the U.S.

EDC explains San Diego’s Q2 2022 economic data:

Key findings from Q2 2022:

  1. VENTURE CAPITAL: VC picked up speed in Q2, nearly doubling Q1 totals. The most significant increase was in San Diego’s Life Sciences sector, which jumped from $627 million to $1 billion. La Jolla-based National Resilience’s $625 million raise for biomanufacturing medicines was the largest among all sectors in Q2. Tech companies drew $593 million while Consumer companies pulled $211 million in funding.
  2. HOUSING: San Diego housing is the second most expensive among major metros. However, the median home price remained unchanged compared to the end of last quarter, at $950,000. Q2 closed off with a total of 5,773 issued housing permits. 2021 totals reached 9,358 permits, which means 2022 permit activity is on track compared to previous years. However, issued permits might have to pass previous years totals in order to meet the housing demand in the San Diego region*.
  3. EMPLOYMENT: Unemployment in San Diego has dropped below the national rate, at 3.2 percent. San Diego unemployment continues to approximate pre-pandemic levels (3.0 percent) and has already dropped below national pre-pandemic levels (3.4 percent). More specifically, nonfarm employment increased by 17,700 during Q2, and by 79,700 compared to a year ago. Leisure and Hospitality employment continues to increase for the fifth consecutive month, and currently represents around 10 percent of the sector in California (EDD).

*Data correction: Please note that the initially published Key Takeaways from Q2 2022 erroneously stated the number of housing permits for 2021 and 2022 YTD. The written summary has been updated with the correct values.

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San Diego’s Economic Snapshot: Q1 2022

Every quarter San Diego Regional EDC analyzes key economic indicators that are important to understanding the regional economy and the region’s standing relative to the 25 most populous metropolitan areas in the U.S.

EDC explains San Diego’s Q1 2022 economic data:

Key Findings from Q1 2022:

  1. VENTURE CAPITAL: Strong VC funding in Life Sciences continues despite uncertainty surrounding inflation. Although high inflation and rising interest rates have been a concern recently, investments in Life Sciences companies only fell by about $10 million to $632 million from Q4, while investments in Tech companies returned to average levels. Total investment into the region exceeded $1 billion in Q1, an increase of more than $250 million compared to the quarterly average for 2019.
  2. COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE: Demand for lab space has a greater impact on CRE market than remote work arrangements. As businesses embrace hybrid and remote work, there is uncertainty surrounding the impact to the commercial real estate market. Data show that businesses are not completely abandoning the office, with many adopting hybrid work schedules that will only lead to a one to two percent reduction in office space requirements nationally. In San Diego, demand from the Life Sciences industry is even stronger, resulting in a seven percent increase in asking rates for lab space from Q4. According to CBRE, 6.5 million square feet of planned conversions and construction are expected to become available in the next three years.
  3. HOUSING: Home prices continue to soar despite fewer sales. The median home price in San Diego continues to climb, reaching $950,000 in March. This translates to an 18.8 percent increase in the median home price compared to March 2021. In fact, the year-ago increase in home prices has hovered consistently around 15 percent since August 2021, almost double the rate of inflation we have seen over the past 12 months. While rising mortgage rates have the potential to temper the housing market, the median home price continues to rise at a faster rate than the national average.

Check out our most recent Economic Snapshot below

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Now live: 2021 Downtown Demographics Study

The Downtown San Diego Partnership, together with the City of San Diego and San Diego Regional EDC released the findings from the 2021 Downtown Demographics Study. Among findings about Downtown’s residential population, workforce, and attractions, the study confirmed that Downtown is uniquely primed for a post-pandemic resurgence of residential and business growth due to several key factors.

“What we found most exciting about this research is that it confirmed through data what we’ve long heard from Downtown residents and stakeholders,” said Betsy Brennan, president & CEO for the Downtown San Diego Partnership. “Downtown is primed with a talented residential workforce that desires to live and work in our urban core. This, in combination with ongoing investment in world-class commercial and research spaces with access to the region’s enhanced transit system and a vibrant neighborhood lifestyle for residents, businesses and visitors alike, tells us that there is no better time to invest in Downtown.”

Authored by EDC, in coordination with UC San Diego Extension’s Center for Research and Evaluation, the update provides new data on the residential and workforce populations of San Diego’s urban core, identifies areas for growth, opportunities for investment and advocacy, as well as a benchmark for the impacts of COVID-19. It’s intent is to serve as a helpful tool for anyone hoping to understand Downtown’s unique makeup and continue to fuel decisions to advance the economic prosperity and cultural vitality of the city’s urban core for years to come.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Downtown’s residents are young, urban professionals primarily working in innovation industries and earning higher-than-average wages. The vibrancy of urban living is what they like about living Downtown and they would even prefer to work there if given the choice, though the cost of living remains higher in Downtown than the County at large.
  • Downtown’s over concentration of the most in-demand talent, combined with an increasing supply of commercial real estate, present timely opportunities for high growth companies – particularly Life Science and Technology companies securing record-breaking investment – who are seeking top talent surrounded by the amenities they desire.
  • Downtown’s legacy industry clusters are more vulnerable to economic downturns, making diversification advantageous. Job losses during 2020 erased the gains of the previous four years.
  • Downtown is widely viewed as a hub for arts and culture, as well as a top destination for professional networking and gathering.

“While San Diego’s innovation economy continues to drive the region’s recovery from the COVID-19-spurred economic downturn, we must ensure the building blocks of this recovering economy—quality jobs, skilled talent and thriving households—are accessible to more people,” said Mark Cafferty, president and CEO of EDC. “The data confirms that the pillars to build a more resilient economy through continued investment into Downtown by new, growing and diversified industries are in place and ready. More than ever, smart economic development means inclusive economic development.”

The Downtown Partnership first commissioned a demographic study in 2016, then a new tool for the organization’s advocacy efforts and the Downtown community. Providing an in-depth look at San Diego’s urban core and capturing a moment in time of the market’s recovery following the pandemic, the 2021 study was funded by the City of San Diego’s Economic Development Department, DSDP Clean & Safe Commercial Enhancement Program, Stockdale Capital Partners, and Urban Strategies Group.

Read the report

San Diego’s Changing Business Landscape: Increasing optimism after a year of struggle

Welcome to the final edition in EDC’s Changing Business Landscape Series, which is published bi-monthly in the San Diego Business Journal and here on our blog. If you missed them, check out all past editions here.

Surveying the changing business landscape in San Diego

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every facet of life, including how businesses operate. Companies in every industry are rapidly re-evaluating how they do business, changing the way they interact with customers, manage supply chains and where their employees are physically located. This has massive immediate and long-term implications for San Diego’s workforce and job composition, as well as regional land use decisions and infrastructure investment.

To identify evolving trends in local business needs and operations, ensuring their ability to grow and thrive in the region, San Diego Regional EDC surveyed nearly 200 companies in the region’s key industries on a rolling basis throughout 2021 to monitor and report shifts in their priorities and strategies. In addition, EDC constructed the San Diego Business Recovery Index (BRI)—a sentiment index to measure companies’ perceptions of current conditions, as well as expectations for the future across several factors such as business development, employment and commercial real estate needs. (An index value >50 reflects expansion, and a value <50 reflects contraction. More information on the index and how it is calculated is available at sandiegobusiness.org/research.)

These insights will help inform long-term economic development priorities around talent recruitment and retention, quality job creation, and infrastructure development. Companies are surveyed on several topics, with varying emphases in each wave.

Here are three key findings from the final wave of surveying conducted in December 2021:

    1. Companies have settled into their pandemic modes of operation. Revenues and employment have stabilized, driving positive sentiment of San Diego’s current business environment.
    1. Pandemic-driven challenges aren’t going away soon. Businesses report greater struggles with hiring, retention, and supply chain disruptions than at any other point in 2021.
    1. Businesses enter 2022 with a renewed level of optimism. The challenge will be in meeting industry’s growth with infrastructure investment needed to sustain it.

San Diego businesses reported mainly positive views on both the current conditions and expectations for region’s economy during the next six to 12 months. Although there was significant variation in these sentiments depending on the size of establishment, the overall results of December’s Changing Business Landscape survey were positive. The BRI climbed 9.4 points from 54.1 in October to 63.5 in December, reflecting more positive views of current economic conditions as well as much more bullish view of the future.

Companies have settled into their pandemic modes of operation

Across firm size and industry, business perceptions are that San Diego’s economic engines have adapted better than peer metros in the United States during the pandemic. As new coronavirus variants continue to surface, this adaptability is paramount to the continued success of the region’s businesses, both large and small. Furthermore, businesses rated San Diego’s economic health higher in December than at any other point in the year.

The biggest driver behind the rosy views of current business conditions surrounds employment, with San Diego businesses indicating that they have significantly increased their workforce since the start of the pandemic. This is principally driven by innovation industries, such as Life Sciences and Manufacturing. Life Sciences companies, in particular, are growing rapidly, raising $5 billion in venture capital funding in 2021 alone.

Along with growing payrolls, San Diego businesses are also reporting a rebound in both revenues and earnings. However, the magnitude of the rebound varies by business size. Businesses with fewer than 50 employees reported milder up swings (BRI values in the low-50s) compared to businesses with more than 250 employees (BRI values in the mid-70s). Here again, Life Sciences and Manufacturing led the way. However, some surprising results came from Software companies which reported declines in both revenues and earnings back in October. This could also be attributable to a surge in venture funding during the fourth quarter of 2021.

Finally, business leaders appear to have adapted to the constant disruption from new coronavirus variants and we enter the third year of a pandemic. More are reporting additional changes to their human resource policies and related procedures to operate effectively, and satisfaction with remote work arrangements remains high.

Pandemic-driven challenges aren’t going away soon

The employment gains reported by companies have not come easily. Employers indicated that hiring difficulty has reached a new low with December’s BRI at a dismal 8.4, a massive drop from October’s already low level of 28.4. Not only are the region’s businesses spinning their wheels over ever-increasing difficulty hiring, but a new record rate of workers quitting across the U.S. has made the war for talent a two-front war. San Diego entered 2021 with more than 122,000 people unemployed. Over the course of the year that number has fallen by half and while there is technically surplus of workers in the region, demand for workers is even greater. In fact, during the month of December employers posted more than 158,000 unique jobs—nearly half of which are new positions. Nearly every industry is in need of more workers and the demand is translating into higher advertised salaries.

In addition to their troubles recruiting and retaining talent, San Diego businesses reported a sharp decline in their ability to manage suppliers and vendors as the global supply chain knot continues to disrupt normal business operations. These issues appear to be worse for larger companies, as they often require intermediate inputs from international vendors in larger quantities than smaller businesses, making it more difficult to find new suppliers when there is a delay in production or shipping. Despite these disruptions, San Diego’s transportation cluster continues to grow. This is important because it supports more than 90,000 local jobs while propelling San Diego’s global competitiveness.

Businesses enter 2022 with a renewed level of optimism

Businesses reported strong future expectations across every single forward-looking BRI segment in December. Notably, San Diego companies with more than 250 employees once again expect to lease or purchase additional commercial space in the next six to 12 months after expressing desires to reduce their collective footprint in October. Here again, medical device manufacturers, and manufacturers more broadly, are driving the trend. Additionally, expectations for future remote work were strongest in December by a large margin. Companies of all sizes and industry have embraced remote work, to some degree, as a part of how they operate going forward.

While the impacts of omicron are not necessarily captured during the last wave of surveying, businesses nonetheless feel that San Diego has fared well in adapting to changing regulations and continuous staffing and supply chain uncertainties. If this is, in fact, the next normal, San Diego’s economic engines are well positioned to drive that growth.

While businesses surveyed leave 2021 with a renewed sense of optimism, 2022 will bring more questions than answers. Will remote work and a continually rising cost of living begin to drive talent away? Will the ‘great resignation’ translate into surge of new startups? Will record venture capital prove to be circumstantial or drive a new Life Sciences boom? Will the billions of dollars of public funding from the state align to support growth? EDC will be monitoring these trends and how companies continue to adapt in the face of an ever-changing business landscape.

For San Diego to fully emerge from this global pandemic, it must reconcile an economic recovery that is full of contradictions. The region is simultaneously experiencing strong job growth and eye-watering venture capital investment, along with widespread labor shortages, small business closures, and a housing market that is nearly 30 percent more expensive. Moreover, these impacts were not felt evenly across the region. The brunt of the adverse health and economic impacts of the pandemic were incurred by low-income earners and people of color.

The past year was one of adaptation and endurance, but also a year that reinforced the need to focus on the fundamental building blocks of a strong economy—quality jobs, skilled talent, and thriving households. The next year will be one where resilience means connecting more people to innovation industries; competitiveness means more San Diegans have the skills the economy needs; and prosperity means that working families can afford to live here. More than ever, smart economic development means inclusive economic development.

For more data and analysis, visit our research page.

This research is made possible by:

San Diego’s Economic Snapshot: Q4 2021

Every quarter San Diego Regional EDC analyzes key economic indicators that are important to understanding the regional economy and the region’s standing relative to the 25 most populous metropolitan areas in the U.S.

EDC explains San Diego’s Q4 2021 economic data:

Key Findings from Q4 2021:

  1. VENTURE CAPITAL: Venture capital investments are making it rain cold, hard cash in sunny San Diego. The region’s companies closed out the year with another bonanza of VC funding in Q4, totaling more than $2.6 billion across Angel, Seed, Series A, and Growth stages–just shy of the $2.69 billion in Q1. Once again, Tech was the most funded industry, raking in north of $1.5 billion, compared to $0.6 billion in Life Sciences. Surprisingly, VC in Consumer companies reached $437 million, with apparel company Vuori pulling in $400 million alone, one of the largest investments in a private apparel brand in history. All in all, total VC funding for 2021 came in at $9 billion, compared to the $5.3 billion in 2020.
  2. COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE: Life Sciences companies drive demand growth in commercial real estate. A record year in venture funding is beginning to manifest itself in the commercial real estate market, as current demand for lab space is 2.75 million square feet—more than triple the amount of new deliveries expected in the next year according to a market report by CBRE. Despite 4.8 million square feet of new deliveries in the industrial market, much of this was pre-leased, doing little to stop the steady decline in the vacancy rate which ended 2021 at 2.4 percent. On top of this, asking rates for low-finish industrial space were 8.8 percent higher at the end of Q4 compared to a year ago. Furthermore, increased demand for office space resulted in the third straight quarter of declining vacancy rates, with a positive net absorption of 340,000 square feet in Q4.
  3. HOUSING: Despite slightly lower home prices, San Diego’s affordability crisis deepens. The median home price in San Diego came in at $836,700 in December 2021, $13,300 lower than the end of Q3, as year-ago home sales fell 11.2 percent. However, home prices remain 14.6 percent higher than a year ago, worsening San Diego’s affordability crisis. Simply put, the growth in housing supply is not keeping up with demand, which could have lasting impacts on the region’s capacity to compete for the talent that drives San Diego’s innovation economy.

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Study: AI helps catalyze 10% employment growth in San Diego Transportation cluster through the pandemic

San Diego Regional EDC study quantifies the impact of AI in region’s Transportation cluster

Today, alongside Booz Allen Hamilton, San Diego Regional EDC released the third study in a series on the proliferation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) within San Diego County’s key economic clusters. “Mobilizing the Future: AI and San Diego’s Transportation Cluster” quantifies the economic impact of the region’s Transportation cluster and explores how AI and ML technologies have helped position San Diego as a global trade hub.

While people begin to get more comfortable with the notion of autonomous-driving cars, San Diego is deploying AI and ML in Transportation even beyond consumer use. One in three Transportation and related Manufacturing companies in San Diego are either developing or adopting AI and ML technologies, thus achieving levels of precision and accuracy otherwise unattainable by humans. This is measurably higher than the average engagement rate of 25 percent across all industries.

Local startups like Airspace and Boxton are enabling the shipment of goods in the quickest, most cost effective way; large firms Lytx® and TuSimple are improving safety in transportation; established brands Cubic and SANDAG are streamlining travel and commutes for individuals; and defense contractors BAE Systems and General Dynamics NASSCO are mobilizing troops and supplies to drive mission success and safety.

Underwritten by Booz Allen Hamilton, the web-based study—transportation.sandiegoAI.org—includes video case studies on local Transportation companies, details on the $11 billion economic impact of the Transportation cluster including interactive data visuals, and demonstrates overall how the region’s rapid adoption of AI in Transportation has helped propel San Diego into the global magnet it is today.

“San Diego is home to some of the most innovative and influential Transportation technology companies in the world. The rapid development and adoption of AI in Transportation has uniquely positioned the region as a leader in solving global challenges such as climate change and supply chain disruptions brought about by the pandemic,” said Eduardo Velasquez, Research Director at San Diego Regional EDC.

KEY FINDINGS

  • San Diego’s Transportation cluster is big and growing. The cluster supports more than 90,000 local jobs and contributes $11 billion to the regional economy each year. Despite the pandemic, employment in the cluster has increased 10 percent during the last five years.
  • AI and ML in transportation is much more than just autonomous vehicles. Local developers are creating AI- and ML-based solutions to optimize shipping routes, automate and secure mass-transit fare collection systems, improve safety on roadways, and achieve extreme precision in the manufacturing of ships and aircraft.
  • The Transportation cluster drives global connectivity and competitiveness. These innovations bring enormous economic benefit to the region, including advanced manufacturing jobs, while propelling San Diego’s role in the global marketplace.

“It is important to remember that transportation in San Diego includes not only our personal vehicles, but also a globally connected market supported by an international border crossing, a shipping port, and an international airport,” said Joe Rohner, Director of Artificial Intelligence at Booz Allen Hamilton and leader of the firm’s West Coast AI business. “The study series continues to illustrate how the implementation of AI and ML technologies across diverse industries is perpetuating San Diego’s leadership in tackling global challenges. Booz Allen is ready to engage with our region’s leaders and industry partners to support this work.” Booz Allen employs approximately 1,400 professionals in San Diego, working on cybersecurity, analytics, engineering, and IT modernization.

Transportation is a key and rapidly growing piece of the San Diego regional economy. While employment in all other sectors contracted 2.3 percent since 2016, Transportation employment saw 10 percent growth even amid the coronavirus pandemic. This includes Transportation Manufacturing, Logistics and Freight, Passenger Transportation including Mass Transit, and Other Transportation Services. Importantly, each Transportation job creates another job in other local industries; this means 4,000 more jobs have been created elsewhere in the economy due to Transportation’s 10 percent growth over the last five years.

“At Lytx, we combine video telematics with machine vision (MV), AI, and driving data to help solve the transportation industry’s most critical problems, like distracted driving. We pioneered the use of MV + AI in fleet management solutions, and we firmly believe in this powerful technology’s ability to empower drivers, protect fleets, and create safer roadways—in San Diego and around the world,” said Rajesh Rudraradhya, Chief Technology Officer at Lytx. “The latest report in the series by EDC reinforces the importance of implementing advanced technologies such as AI and the increasing need for companies like ours to continue to innovate and improve outcomes in this space; doing so fuels regional growth while also increasing driver safety.”

With this growth, and a unique convergence of public and private entities, among other factors, San Diego’s Transportation cluster is leading in the global fight against climate change and supply chain disruption.

The study series is underwritten by Booz Allen Hamilton and produced by San Diego Regional EDC. This report was sponsored by Northrop Grumman and Lytx.

Read the full study at transportation.sandiegoAI.org

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San Diego’s Economic Snapshot: Q3 2021

Every quarter San Diego Regional EDC analyzes key economic indicators that are important to understanding the regional economy and the region’s standing relative to the 25 most populous metropolitan areas in the U.S.

EDC explains San Diego’s Q3 2021 economic data:

Key Findings from Q3 2021:

  1. VENTURE CAPITAL: Life Sciences and Tech companies continue to shine. San Diego experienced another phenomenal quarter for VC, reaching $1.9 billion, an increase of $52 million compared to Q2, and $1.1 billion more than the same quarter last year. Life Sciences companies attracted almost $1 billion via 23 deals, with Genomatica pulling in $118 million alone. Twenty Tech companies brought in more than $940 million, with Shield AI and Wiliot attracting $410 million combined.
  2. COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE: Demand for office and industrial space continues to climb. For the second quarter in a row, San Diego showed positive net absorption of office real estate, pushing vacancy rates down and rents up. The delivery of Amazon’s 3.4 million square-foot warehouse in Otay Mesa led to net absorption of more than 4.7 million square feet of industrial space, the strongest quarter on record.
  3. EMPLOYMENT: San Diego continues to ride the wave of employment gains. Total nonfarm employment increased by 6,200 during Q3 and is up 51,300 compared to a year ago. However, gains were choppy across industries. Leisure and Hospitality led employment growth in Q3 with 7,900 jobs, as Accommodation and Food Services establishments continue to re-open and re-hire. Professional and Business services also had a positive quarter, adding 3,200 jobs to the region as venture funding fuels growth.

Check out our most recent Economic Snapshot below

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San Diego’s Economic Snapshot: Q2 2021

Every quarter San Diego Regional EDC analyzes key economic indicators that are important to understanding the regional economy and the region’s standing relative to the 25 most populous metropolitan areas in the U.S.

EDC explains San Diego’s Q2 2021 economic data:

Key Findings from Q2 2021:

  1. VENTURE CAPITAL: Investment into Technology companies more than quadrupled. More than $2.4 billion in venture capital went to San Diego Tech companies during Q2, a 433 percent increase from the previous quarter and the first time that Tech received more VC funding than Life Sciences since Q1 2019. Life Sciences funding fell from record levels, but still pulled in more than $1.9 billion during the quarter, more than doubling the amount received in the same quarter last year.
    *Correction: Dollar values for Venture Capital in the preceding paragraph include other sources of funding, such as IPOs, mergers, and Acquisitions.
  2. COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE: Demand for office space jumps as State lifts lockdowns. Net absorption of office real estate was positive during the quarter, up more than 330,000 square feet, for the first time since Q4 2019 as San Diego businesses began transitioning back to the office. Additionally, Tech companies such as Apple and AppFolio are expanding their San Diego footprint, helping push office vacancy rates down and rent growth back up.
  3. EMPLOYMENT: Job growth returns amid continued battle for talent. San Diego’s Q2 employment reversed the past year’s downward trend as the vaccine rollout led to loosened restrictions on businesses and increased consumer confidence. Year-over-year total nonfarm employment increased by 17,700 in Q2, with Leisure and Hospitality leading the way. However, total employment remains about 100,000 jobs lower than pre-pandemic levels and some key industries, such as Healthcare, are in dire need of more workers.

Check out our most recent Economic Snapshot below

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San Diego’s Economic Snapshot: Q1 2021

Every quarter San Diego Regional EDC analyzes key economic indicators that are important to understanding the regional economy and the region’s standing relative to the 25 most populous metropolitan areas in the U.S.

EDC explains San Diego’s Q1 2021 economic data:

Key Findings from Q1 2021:

  1. COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE: Offices aren’t going anywhere. Regional shutdowns and new remote-work policies due to the COVID-19 pandemic have changed the nature of office space. While increased office vacancy (14.2 percent during Q1) suggests companies were abandoning their current offices, a recent survey of San Diego employers found that 39 percent plan to rent, lease, or purchase additional space in the next 12 months. Companies in the region’s innovation industries have more than recovered job losses from the early months of the pandemic and are looking to return to the office in some capacity over the coming months as health guidelines permit.
  2. VENTURE CAPITAL: Biotech leads venture capital investment. In Q1, San Diego saw $2 billion in venture capital (VC) investment come into the region by way of 59 deals—the highest number in a quarter since 2000. The top three deals were worth nearly $1.2 billion, all to local biotechs Mesa Biotech, Fate Therapeutics, and Blacksmith Medicines, and account for more than half of all VC investment in the region. These continued VC inflows are a testament to San Diego’s position as a global life sciences leader.
  3. HOUSING: Rising home prices further hinder affordability. The median home price in Q1 was $763,500—a historic high that has continuously climbed during the pandemic, despite job losses and economic uncertainty. Increasing home prices make it difficult for new homebuyers to enter the market. We can hope that increased vaccinations will encourage sellers off the sidelines and free up more inventory for buyers.

Check out our most recent Economic Snapshot below

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