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San Diego Innovation Industry Faces Foreign Competition


San Diego’s biotech and innovation industry faces the new year with rising competition from overseas.

— San Diego’s biotech and innovation industry faces the new year with rising competition from overseas.

Governments in China, South Korea, India and Europe are investing billions of dollars in their own scientific industries.

San Diego has about 550 biotech and life science companies who employ around 40,000 people.

Duane Roth, CEO of Connect, an organization that fosters local innovation, says the financial impact of San Diego’s newly coined “innovation industry” results in billions of local payroll dollars and significantly improves the regions tax base.

“The innovation economy and that’s all sectors is about 5 to 6 percent of the employers, it’s about 10 to 11 percent of employees and 25 percent of San Diego’s payroll dollars,” said Roth.

Aggressive competition to grab a profitable piece of San Diego’s biotech pie has gone global.

Some local companies take advantage of the situation and team up with overseas investors and researchers.

But Joe Panetta, CEO of BIOCOM, a local life science trade organization, says San Diego has an edge that others don’t—that is, 35 years of innovation experience.

“That not only means we have the ability to turn out new ideas and to create companies, it also means we have a base of experience and talent here, that is unrivaled anywhere,” said Panetta.

San Diego also gets its own federal financial support. Last year, the region’s science and technology community received more than $900 million in grant money from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.

Moving forward in 2011, Panetta said local companies have a wide lead nationally and internationally because of promising advances in biofuel, personalized genetic medicine and medical devices.

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