In Memoriam: Duane Roth Was a Driving Force in Our Innovation Economy

8/9/13

Duane Roth was a very special person to me and to the San Diego life sciences community. After he took over as the CEO of Connect at the end of 2004, he took on a larger role for the entire technology community—or as Duane would call it, the “Innovation Economy.”

For Duane, San Diego has been a showcase for the entire country, a demonstration of what the new Innovation Economy should look like. To compete against China and Europe, he believed that more U.S. cities should emulate San Diego. There was no better spokesman for the Innovation Economy than Duane, who died tragically in the prime of his life last Saturday, following a July 21 bicycle accident.

He followed in the footsteps of the late Bill Otterson, the founding CEO of Connect, but he propelled Connect onto the national scene. He even opened an advocacy office for the innovation community in Washington, DC. Visitors from all over the world come to San Diego each year to learn how we became a cradle of invention, and to learn how Duane has helped to expand and sustain our culture of innovation.

Duane was an activist. He would always “walk the walk” as well as “talk the talk.” As the CEO of Connect, he took on politicians, would-be governors, and mayors to secure their support of technology, entrepreneurship, and innovation for San Diego and beyond.

After the economy crashed in 2008, funding dried up for biotech startups in San Diego and elsewhere. But rather than simply waiting for things to turn around, Duane attacked … Next Page »

Ivor Royston is life sciences investor and serial entrepreneur. His career as a biomedical researcher, cancer specialist, serial entrepreneur, and venture capitalist is closely tied to the origins and growth of San Diego's life sciences industry. Follow @

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  • Dan Eramian

    Ivor’s piece is well written and a great tribute to Duane. Duane was also a very strong supporter of BIO. Dan Eramian