Report Shows San Diego’s Innovation Economy Strengthening, Except in Venture Capital

7/19/11Follow @bvbigelow

Private research organizations employ almost 31,000 people in San Diego County, more than the number of similar employees in any other California county, according to a new quarterly innovation report from Connect, the local non-profit group for technology and entrepreneurship.

Researchers teased that statistic from U.S. Department of Labor data for the third quarter of 2010, the most recent quarter available, according to Steve Hoey, a project leader at Connect who called the new finding “a testament to the strong R&D base we have in our region.” The report ranked Silicon Valley’s Santa Clara County second, with almost 19,000 working at private research institutions. Los Angeles was third with more than 17,000.

Such findings in the report underscore how San Diego has become a hotbed for early stage technology and life sciences companies, despite a decline in the amount of venture capital invested here.

Entrepreneurs started 70 companies in San Diego during the first three months of this year— double the 35 startups formed during the same quarter of 2010, according to Connect’s First Quarter 2011 Innovation Report. The report also shows an uptick in tech sector employment, continuing strength in federal research funding, a sharp increase in patents issued to local inventors, and increasing mergers & acquisition activity. Venture capital investments in San Diego startups, however, continue to decline.

Here’s a breakdown of the report’s major indices:

—The 70 new startups founded in San Diego accounted for nearly 12 percent of the 597 technology and life sciences companies created throughout California during the first quarter. San Diego’s tech startups created more than 130 new jobs, nearly 8 percent of the 1,700 new jobs created by new startups statewide. Twenty-seven of San Diego’s new companies are developing software, an increase that was offset in the life sciences where only 11 new companies were formed. Another 17 were communications startups, with the rest focused on recreational goods, defense, computer, and environmental sectors.

—Communications equipment manufacturing, as usual, represented the largest employment sector of the local innovation economy, with almost 28,000 jobs. San Diego’s life sciences sector and software each accounted for 27,400 jobs, and defense … 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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