Industry Profiles

San Diego Industry Profiles

With breakthrough technology companies and research organizations, the largest military concentration in the world and a strong tourism industry, the San Diego region has one of the most dynamic economies in the country. The below profiles take a deep dive into the industries that make San Diego the innovation hub that it is, with data on employment, businesses, wages, and more.


Click through the below tiles to explore our region’s key industries.

  • Aerospace

  • Cleantech

  • Cybersecurity

  • Defense

  • Life Sciences

  • Manufacturing

  • Medical Device

  • Software

  • Telecommunications

  • Tourism


Aerospace has a long history in San Diego, dating back to the early 1900s when Ryan Airlines built the Spirit of St. Louis and Reuben Fleet brought Consolidated Aircraft Corporation to Lindbergh Field. Since then, San Diego’s aerospace industry has been an integral part of the region’s – and the world’s – economy. See the Industry Profile.


The San Diego cleantechnology industry is a collaboration between public, private, and academic organizations working together to deploy IoT technologies and advance urban connectivity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase water and energy efficiency, and drive economic growth in the San Diego region. See the Industry Profile.


San Diego has emerged as a leader for the development of cybersecurity technology and the delivery of cyber-related services. The region’s healthy ecosystem, including its strong military presence, world-class academic institutions, incubators and strong partnerships between industry associations and governments, has positioned San Diego as a hub for cyber operations. Today, there are more than 150 firms in the San Diego region focused exclusively on cyber. See the Industry Profile.


San Diego’s defense cluster is critical for the region’s innovation and military economies, and ultimately, to the United States’ national security priorities. San Diego is home to the largest concentration of military assets in the world and the largest federal military workforce in the country. When considering the overall ripple effects of the defense cluster in San Diego, about 20 percent of San Diego’s gross regional product (GRP) is the result of defense-related spending. Jobs supported as a result of defense spending include uniformed military, federal government employees, and defense contractors, as well as employees in healthcare, engineering, construction, hospitality, and tourism. See the Industry Profile.

Life Sciences

The life sciences cluster is a major driver of San Diego’s innovation economy. Major pharmaceutical companies including Eli Lilly, Pfizer, and Takeda maintain a presence in San Diego to foster collaboration with major research institutes, universities, and small biotechnology companies. See the Industry Profile.


The San Diego region is home to a vibrant manufacturing cluster that spans many industries, including defense, aerospace, shipbuilding and repair, medical devices, craft brewing, and sports and active lifestyle industries. With a highly-skilled workforce, robust training programs, and close proximity to Mexico, San Diego is a hub for advanced manufacturing companies, with nearly 3,150 manufacturing companies currently supporting more than 110,000 jobs. See the Industry Profile.

Medical Device

The medical device industry is an important component of San Diego’s burgeoning life sciences cluster. More than 30 years ago, scientists out of UC San Diego founded Hybritech, a company that produced one of the first diagnostic tests for prostate cancer. The company’s acquisition by Eli Lilly in 1986 for $400 million made it one of the region’s early success stories, and catalyst for a subsequent influx of startup investors. See the Industry Profile.


With more than 3,600 technology companies and 80 research institutions in the region, the technology industry is a major driver of the innovation economy in San Diego. The research institutes – along with UC San Diego, San Diego State University, and other major universities – provide the sector with breakthrough technologies that fuel company growth and product development. These unique assets, combined with one of the most talented labor forces in the world, make San Diego one of America’s most innovative markets. See the Industry Profile.


A world leader in wireless technologies, San Diego companies are driving local and global innovation that keep us all connected. Founded in San Diego in 1985, Qualcomm invented technologies at the heart of 3G and 4G wireless and the first smartphone, and continues to pioneer new technologies that range from 5G to artificial intelligence, and more. See the Industry Profile.


With more than 70 miles of coastline, state of the art hotel and convention spaces, and an array of entertainment options throughout the region, San Diego is positioned as one of the top visitor and convention destinations in the world. Dubbed by Fodor’s as a “vacationer’s paradise” and by the U.S. Weather Bureau as “the closest thing to perfect weather in America,” San Diego’s world-class waterfront and award-winning international airport make it accessible from destinations across the globe. See the Industry Profile.

Question about EDC’s Industry Profiles? Get in touch:

Sofia Nelson-Ferezi
Sofia Nelson-Ferezi

Coordinator, Research