Charting Startups in the Downturn, San Diego’s Biotech Survival Index (Part Deux), Court Dismisses Federal Patent Suit Against Qualcomm, & More SD BizTech News

3/23/09Follow @bvbigelow

If there’s a theme to be found in the innovation news for San Diego last week, it might be comings and goings. While some companies are making layoffs or even shuttering their doors, we also found a number of new startups taking root here (although not as many as a year ago).

—In a report on San Diego’s innovation economy, the non-profit business group Connect found 73 new technology companies were started here during the last three months of 2008, a 58 percent decline compared to the year-ago period. It’s a sign the local tech economy is down, but not out.

Luke profiled Amira Pharmaceuticals, a biotech startup founded in 2005 that is developing a drug to treat pulmonary fibrosis. In this recession, it’s worth noting that the three scientists who started Amira joined forces after Merck had shut down the San Diego operation where they had worked.

—A different kind of start-over is San Diego-based SpectraScience (OTCBB: SCIE). After salvaging the biomedical equipment maker from bankruptcy in 2004, local entrepreneur Jim Hitchin is just beginning to sell the company’s updated “optical biopsy” machines. The technology combines a low-power, fiber-optic blue laser with computerized spectroscopy.

—Another new biotech that Luke profiled is San Diego’s Pico Pharmaceuticals. The company is using research out of New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine to develop highly specific small molecule drugs that bind more tightly to their receptor targets.

—JP (Juha-Pekka) found that Dotmatics, a U.K. bioinformatics and visualization software developer, has opened a satellite office near San Diego as part of its expansion into the U.S. life sciences market.

Sorenson Media, a Salt Lake City-based developer of video compression and encoding software, also has opened a new San Diego office to serve as the central hub of its business operations.

—On the other side of the ledger, I rounded up more layoffs that have come to light in San Diego in recent weeks. They included specialized laser maker Cymer, which with its latest round of 130 cuts has eliminated 38 percent of its workforce since … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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