A comprehensive snapshot of San Diego’s innovation economy shows a slowdown in new company formation, with 78 technology startups created during the three months that ended in September. But federal grants for basic research jumped to new highs, with funding awarded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) up 44 percent and funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) doubling over the previous quarter.
The total of 78 technology companies started during the third quarter is down about 24 percent from the 102 startups launched in the previous quarter, and is down about the same amount from the 103 companies created during the third quarter of 2008, according to the report released yesterday by Connect, a San Diego nonprofit group that promotes technology innovation and entrepreneurship.
Among other things, Connect’s innovation report compares innovation-related business activity in San Diego with the rest of California. So, for example, of the 78 companies launched in the San Diego area during the third quarter, 29 were life sciences companies and accounted for 21 percent of the 138 life sciences startups statewide—the most for any county in the state. Connect also counted 26 new software companies during the quarter (13.5 percent of 192 statewide), a modest uptick from the 22 launched in San Diego during the second quarter, and nine communications startups (8.7 percent of 103 statewide), compared with 14 in the previous quarter.
If nothing else, the report suggests that increased federal funding has helped to mitigate the pullback of private capital over the past year. The total venture capital invested in San Diego during the first nine months this year, $580 million in 75 deals, is well behind the pace of 2008, when $1.2 billion was invested in 126 deals here over the year. NIH grants to San Diego biomedical researchers climbed to $383 million during the third quarter, a 44 percent gain over the $265 million awarded in the second quarter. Funding from the NSF also increased to $114.5 million during the quarter, from $56.3 million in the previous quarter.