Downtown San Diego Becoming a Centerpiece of Innovation Economy

Posted on February 9, 2017 · Posted in Business Development

San Diego County ranks in the top 10 metro areas in the country when it comes to startups, including a number one ranking for life science startups. Downtown San Diego stakeholders have worked hard to bring innovative companies to the downtown area, with the innovation economy now supplying 25% of the region’s GDP.

Most of the innovative R&D firms as well as tech startup companies are located in and around the La Jolla/UTC, Torrey Pines, and Kearney Mesa markets. These also include biotech and military research and development businesses.

One new project which could have large ramifications in the area is a proposed University of California San Diego satellite campus which would be in East Village. This could have major impacts for Downtown because innovative companies often favor areas with quality universities, as it is can provide a valuable supply of expertise and talent.

San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp President Mark Cafferty has worked with the city and Downtown San Diego Partnership, attempting to bring in tech, digital, software, and similar firms to the areas, with many major developments helping push this effort forward. For example, having Sempra Energy’s headquarters in the area will help transform East Village into a livable, hip area filled with new housing and amenities.

Over the next four years, over one million square feet of creative office is either planned or already under construction just in Markers Quarter. A development by Cisterra Development at 7th & Market will add 450,000 square feet of office space, and UCSD will occupy 66,000 square feet of office space at Park & Market.

All of this effort has resulted in the number of Downtown San Diego startups doubling to 110, per the Downtown San Diego Partnership. A lot of effort has been placed on attracting Bay Area companies who might have interest in either relocating or starting satellite offices in the San Diego area, with the non-profit San Diego Venture Group establishing a satellite office in the Bay Area to gain further access. While not trying to snatch jobs from other areas of the state, the focus is specifically on companies to might already be considering a move out of state to the high cost of the Bay Area.

San Diego offers unique advantages to those types of companies with a lower cost of living and doing business, which results in lower labor costs. These benefits also come with a very talented and highly educated pool of job candidates, along with an exception climate and style of living in the San Diego area.

San Diego also offers an international business focus thanks to its proximity to Mexico and excellent bi-national relationships. For example, companies such as Thermo-Fisher Scientific and Becton have recently opened satellites locations in the city, considering it a big plus due to operations in Tijuana. Rather than moving offshore, companies can start an office in San Diego while moving production to Tijuana. Among the advantages of such an approach is the elimination of time differences, better communication, and the cost-effectiveness of transporting products to the USA from Mexico rather than Asia.

San Diego is also becoming a larger hub for nonstop international flights, including daily direct flights to Tokyo and London. Nonstop flights are coming in the future to Zurich and Frankfurt. Already this has led to increased deals and investment from UK-based firms and Japanese firms.

With continued growth and investment, smart companies, and an outstanding university, San Diego is on the rise as a city that is on the forefront of business innovation and culture.

Photo credit: Thomas Hart