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San Diego Innovation and the Top 10 Stories of 2014

Xconomy San Diego — 

To understand the ebb and flow of innovation in San Diego over the past year, I combined a ranking of stories with the most page views on Xconomy San Diego with my own editorial curation.

Some themes are apparent in this top 10 list. The life sciences are ascendant here, with advances in genomics, stem cell therapies, and RNA drugs. Software innovation, on the other hand, has continued to ebb in the San Diego ecosystem, with lasting implications for other tech sectors.

My Top 10 Stories of Xconomy San Diego in 2014:

1) The top story of 2014 was actually published in late 2013. To help local entrepreneurs search for early stage investors, I put together a slideshow of prominent San Diego angel investors. The short profiles included a brief summary of their investment philosophy, technology focus, and some of their deals. It accumulated more page views than any other story this year.

2) At No. 2 was a scoop published in December 2013 that revealed plans by the private equity firm Vista Equity Partners to move three San Diego-based companies it had acquired in 2013 to Texas. All three (Omnitracs, Websense, and Active Network) were software-based companies, and they all moved to the Lone Star state in 2014, lured at least in part by some multi-million dollar incentives dangled by Texas Gov. Rick Perry. The ramifications for San Diego’s software sector will be felt for some time.

3) As Websense moved its Web security business to Austin, TX, there was a silver lining for a cross-town rival, iboss Network Security, which hired dozens of Websense employees who preferred to remain in San Diego.

4) Organovo (NYSE: ONVO), a San Diego life sciences startup developing 3D printing technology, said its 3D cell culture of human liver tissue was used successfully for the first time to predict that a pre-clinical drug candidate would have a toxic effect on the liver. Organovo’s breakthrough poses enormous implications for more accurate drug testing, and Xconomy San Diego experienced the year’s biggest spike in Web traffic for this one story.

5) One of the biggest innovation trends underway is the convergence of “Big Data” and genomics, and the presence of gene-sequencing titans like Illumina (NASDAQ: ILMN) and ThermoFisher Scientific’s Life Technologies makes San Diego an innovation hub. But the weakness of the software sector in San Diego became apparent when Human Longevity CEO Craig Venter hired Franz Och away from Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) to develop new ways to interpret raw genomic and proteomic data. Instead of establishing a computational center in San Diego, however, Venter said, “We’re just going to build on the talent base in Silicon Valley.” So Och remained in Mountain View, CA.

As an aside, it’s telling that the Och story garnered more … Next Page »

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  • kazam

    Great coverage Bruce, thanks for sharing!