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San Diego Ramps Up As A Life Science Node

San Francisco and Boston lead the nation in life sciences, but by many important metrics, San Diego is an up-and-coming market for the life science industry — which means the demand for life science space is growing here.

Avison Young principal and Managing Director Jerry Keeney

"I'm very optimistic about the growth of the life science industry, as capital is abundantly available for venture funding and the IPO market remains open," said Avison Young principal and Managing Director Jerry Keeney, who will be one of the speakers at Bisnow's San Diego Life Sciences & Healthcare 2018 event Sept. 18.

"New life science company formation is very steady in San Diego, as shown by lack of available small lab space in all of the life science submarkets," Keeney said. "Larger life science companies continue to flourish as well with Vertex, Takeda and Eli Lilly all recently expanding their footprints in San Diego."

In its 2018 U.S. Life Sciences Report, CBRE said the sheer depth of its talent pool is supporting San Diego as a life sciences growth market. Total life sciences employment in San Diego grew by 52% between 2001 and 2016, which was a little faster than either Boston or San Francisco.

Also, the region has one of the highest concentrations of life science R&D employment, with the sector making a major contribution to job growth in San Diego, and thus demand for specialized life science space, the report said. 

"Though providing a greater number of new jobs, R&D employment has grown at a marginally slower rate than the local employment base in manufacturing and medical, diagnostic and testing labs (55% compared with 66% since 2001)," the CBRE report said.


Some specialized sectors are part of the growth in San Diego. 

This week, UC San Diego announced that Qualcomm co-founder Andrew Viterbi of La Jolla has given $50M to endow six faculty chairs at UC San Diego School of Medicine's Department of Ophthalmology, which will be rechristened the Viterbi Family Department of Ophthalmology. (Viterbi's father was an ophthalmologist who escaped fascist Italy just before World War II.) 

UCSD’s program, which will be boosted by the gift, already enjoys national recognition. The Journal of Clinical Ophthalmology ranked UCSD second in the nation for eye-related research in 2016.

Also in the planning stages is the Viterbi Family Vision Research Center, which will be next to the university’s Shiley Eye Institute, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. It will expand and consolidate lab and meeting space with the goal of fostering collaboration in ophthalmology.

Hear from Keeney and other speakers at Bisnow's San Diego Life Sciences & Healthcare event Sept. 18 at the Westin San Diego.