San Diego Tech Week Reflects Gains as Web Startups Amass Downtown

7/2/13Follow @bvbigelow

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the Venture Summit at the downtown Hilton San Diego Bayfront, with a keynote speech by SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell, Gordon views next week as a “telltale sign of this community pulling together. It’s actually been phenomenal. Everyone sees the power of working together instead of separately.”

It’s also fortunate that many, if not most, of San Diego’s Web startups are locating their headquarters in downtown San Diego, including StockTwits, the online social media network for stock traders that was previously based in Coronado. SweetLabs’ Thompson says that proximity is important because it minimizes the time he must carve out of his schedule to meet with startup CEOs.

Still, the schedule for the July 12 venture summit reflects the fact that other tech sectors have much bigger concentrations of companies in the San Diego area. The speakers include Chris Anderson of 3-D Robotics, Rebecca Boudreaux of Oberon Fuels, Charles Cantor of Sequenom, Stephen Coggeshall of ID Analytics, Sharon Presnell of Organovo, Larry Smarr, director of the Qualcomm Institute at UC San Diego, and Larry Stambaugh of the Bioinspiration Centre at the San Diego Zoo.

So what are the largest innovation clusters in San Diego? I’m curious what others think. My list of San Diego’s top five sectors is:

1) Life sciences drug discovery. San Diego has a renowned history of specialized pharmaceutical and biotech startups that discover and prove the value of experimental drugs by advancing a compound to mid-stage clinical trials. But the region has relatively little expertise in late-stage drug commercialization. This is often cited as a key reason why so many biotechs are acquired by big pharmaceutical companies that move them out of town.

2) Genetic sequencing and biomedical diagnostics. Illumina and Life Technologies are the global market leaders, and there are many smaller companies with leading-edge applications of molecular diagnostics. A key situation to watch in the acquisition of Carlsbad, CA-based Life Technologies is whether Boston’s Thermo Fisher Scientific decides to keep its Ion Torrent fast sequencing division, or spin it off. (Although Life Tech is based in Carlsbad, Ion Torrent is mostly based in the Foster City, CA area around Applied Biosystems.)

3) Industrial biotechnology/agricultural biotechnology. San Diego’s biotech expertise is being applied to a host of new companies that are focused on developing chemicals and other products, including Synthetic Genomics, Genomatica, Cellana, Sapphire Energy, Cibus, Nucelis, Verenium, SG Biofuels, and others.

4) Wireless communications. Qualcomm’s renowned expertise in wireless technologies, including sensors and networking, is expanding into promising new areas, such as digital health.

5) Analytics. More than 100 companies in the greater San Diego area are focused on neural networking, data mining, pattern recognition, and related algorithms and technologies for analyzing data.

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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  • Melani

    Thanks for the writeup Bruce. A HUGE thanks to the 11 people from the SD startup community who helped to put together an awesome week of events.