San Diego’s Connect Takes Offensive, Sets Agenda for Stoking the Region’s Innovation Economy

8/21/09Follow @bvbigelow

Lots of people have been saying the VC model for funding technology innovation is broken. Now San Diego’s Duane Roth has some ideas for ways the regional technology community can try to do things differently.

Roth, who is chief executive of Connect, the non-profit organization that helped create San Diego’s innovation economy, laid out some proposals embodying his ideas a few weeks ago, when I was out of town. So I sat down with him recently to discuss what he calls “five new initiatives in support of the San Diego innovation economy.”

Roth contends that the single most critical factor that has contributed to San Diego’s rise as a regional capital of innovation are specialized research institutes—and he contends that we need more of them. Roth says at least 50 such institutes have been established within a mile of the University of California, San Diego, in the vaunted Torrey Pines zip code of 92037. As examples, Roth listed the five newest ones, all created in the past year or so:

Duane Roth

Duane Roth

The Scripps Translational Science Institute, created to encourage multi-disciplinary research, such as identifying genes that underline susceptibility to disease and conducting clinical research that will lead to the translation of such discoveries into new medical therapies.

The Institute of Engineering in Medicine, established at UCSD to bring diverse fields of science together to develop new and unconventional approaches to clinical medicine, such as creating nanoparticle “bombs” to kill cancer and molecular-sized bridges to repair damaged hearts.

The J. Craig Venter Institute, based in Rockville, MD, the non-profit institute’s second center in San Diego for continuing research on the structural, functional and comparative analysis of genomes and gene products.

The West Wireless Health Institute, dedicated to advancing health and well-being through the use of wireless technologies.

The Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, formed to combine the stem cell research efforts of San Diego’s four largest and most-prominent biomedical research institutes: The Salk Institute, The Burnham Institute, UCSD, and The Scripps Research Institute.

In creating such institutes, Roth says San Diego has been able to recruit prominent scientific leaders in a process that builds upon itself: “They keep clustering, and they bring talent, and the talent gets money, and they just keep doing it.” Roth contends … 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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