Ranking and Accolades

Inc. called San Diego the 2nd most inventive city in the world and one of the hottest cities for startups. U.S. News & World Report thinks San Diego is the most fun place to live in the US.

Check out some of the lifestyle and innovation rankings that our region, cities, universities, and other establishments have received. Scroll down to learn more.

  • The cybersecurity cluster accounts for more than 24,000 jobs, including 12,400 cyber-specific roles, and a total economic impact of $3.5 billion annually (San Diego Cyber Center of Excellence, 2021)
  • Cybersecurity remote job postings made up 9.3 percent of all local cyber job openings in April, up from 3.3 percent in September 2019 (Securing the Future: AI and San Diego’s Cyber Cluster, 2021)
  • Productivity in the Cyber cluster has grown 7.5 percent since 2018, nearly triple the average for all San Diego industries, thanks to the development and adoption of AI (Securing the Future: AI and San Diego’s Cyber Cluster, 2021)
  • In 2020 alone, the U.S. Navy’s Naval Information Warfare Systems Command set aside $7.1 billion for private-industry Cyber and AI contracts, $1.6 billion of which was specifically for the San Diego region. That $1.6 billion is equal to 46 percent of the total economic contributions of San Diego’s Cyber cluster (Securing the Future: AI and San Diego’s Cyber Cluster, 2021)
  • Cyber-specific employment has grown 7.4 percent since 2018 (Cybersecurity in the San Diego Region, 2021)
  • The San Diego region’s colleges and universities offer a collective 118 degree-track programs for occupations employing Cyber professionals (Cybersecurity in the San Diego Region, 2021)
  • Nearly half of regional cybersecurity companies are doing business internationally (Cybersecurity in the San Diego Region, 2021)

  • The U.S. military is the largest single driver of the San Diego economy. Defense contributes $33.6 billion in direct spending and accounts for $52.4 billion, or one-fifth, of San Diego County’s GRP each year. Moreover, 342,000 people, or 23 percent of the region’s workers, are employed by the military (Securing the Future: AI and San Diego’s Cyber Cluster, 2021)
  • Largest concentration of military assets in the world; The military injected $35 billion in direct spending into San Diego’s economy in fiscal year 2021, including $18.5 billion in contracts to more than 1,700 local companies (San Diego Military Advisory Council, 2021)
  • Defense spending in the San Diego region produces 349,000 jobs (San Diego Military Advisory Council, 2021)
  • Military-related spending in San Diego County grew by 5.4% in 2021 and continues to be a significant driver of the local economy (San Diego Military Advisory Council, 2021)
  • In San Diego County, nearly 350,000 jobs can be attributed to the defense industry at large (San Diego Military Advisory Council, 2021)
  • For every $1 dollar the government spends on defense in San Diego, $1.56 is added to the local economy (San Diego Military Advisory Council, 2021)
  • San Diego-area defense contractors received $18.5 billion in contracts during the 2021 fiscal year (San Diego Military Advisory Council, 2021)

  • University of California, San Diego Health is ranked #1 in San Diego and #9 in Pulminology, placing it among the nation’s best hospitals (UCSD Health, 2021)
  • San Diego is #3 in the U.S. for life sciences and biotech jobs (Biospace, 2021)
  • San Diego life sciences firms captured nearly three quarters of the estimated $3 billion in foreign investment injected into the regional economy in 2020 (Go Global: San Diego’s Trade and Investment Initiative, 2021)
  • San Diego is the #3 life sciences cluster in the U.S. (JLL, 2020)
  • Life Sciences activity in San Diego County accounts for $27.7 billion in gross regional product and $47.8 billion in total business sales annually (Biocom, 2020)
  • Life Sciences firms in San Diego produce nearly 178,000 jobs with total earnings of $16 billion annually (Biocom, 2020)
  • LunaDNA named among top ten most innovative social good companies of 2020 for their work with DNA and genome sequencing (Fast Company, 2020)
  • San Diego’s life science workforce is among the largest and best paid in California (San Diego Union Tribune, 2020)

  • Britain’s annual Clarivate study says San Diego County is a research powerhouse, with UC San Diego housing the the ninth-largest collection of highly cited researchers in the world (Clarivate, 2021)
  • Scripps Research’s Ardem Patapoutian was awarded the Nobel Prize for helping discover how humans sense temperature and touch (2021)
  • UC San Diego:
    – Ranks 6th nationally in research spending, ahead of Harvard, UCLA and Stanford (National Science Foundation, 2021)
    – Will generate $18.8 billion in annual economic impact for the state of California by 2023 (Tripp Umbach, 2021)
    – Conducts $1.2 billion in sponsored research (Tripp Umbach, 2021)
    – Ranks 9th among top biomedical research institutions in the world (Nature Index, 2019)

  • San Diego secured record-breaking venture capital investment, outpacing 2020 by more than $2.6 billion (Connect, 2021)
  • San Diego is the #3 best city in the country for startups (Crowdfund Capital Advisors, 2022)
  • Local companies raised $8.94 billion privately in 2021, with 26 of the 273 companies being $100 million-plus fundings (Connect, 2021)
  • 195 total startup acquisitions in 2021 (Connect, 2021)
  • 22 San Diego companies went public in 2021 (Connect, 2021)
  • San Diego County startups received $3.47 billion in venture funding in 2019, with Biotech and Pharmaceutical startups taking 43% of the funding. (Connect Report, 2020)
  • Ranked #4 in U.S. for thriving small businesses and startups (GoBankingRates, 2019)

  • Home to the San Diego Padres, who completed their 2021 MLB season as 14th in runs and 15th in hits
  • San Diego Loyal led by Landon Donovan make playoffs in first year in front of fans (2021)
  • San Diego Wave women’s pro soccer land in town with World Champions Alex Morgan and Abby Dahlkemper joining from the U.S. women’s national team (2021)
  • World champion skaters flocked to San Diego as the X-Games returned to North County (2021)
  • Snapdragon Stadium set to launch at SDSU West in 2022
  • San Diego is within the top 3 best cities for recreation in the U.S. (Wallet Hub, 2021)
  • San Diego ranked one of the top 3 healthiest cities in the U.S. (Advisory Board, 2020)


  • San Diego ranks #5 in best cities to start a tech career (Learn to code with me, 2021)
  • 157 of 273 private funding rounds for San Diego companies were tech or consumer companies (Connect, 2021)
  • Employment in technology industries, educated workforce and millennial population along with venture capital investment in the region are among the attributes that have placed San Diego on the top 10 U.S. tech markets list (Cushman & Wakefield, 2020)
  • Software startups made up over 61 percent of San Diego County’s new innovation startup companies established in 2019. More than 140 new software companies were created, ranking San Diego County fifth among California counties for software startups (San Diego Innovation Report, Connect, 2020)