Last week, we successfully co-hosted the first (of what is to be an annual Public Private Partnership showcase) Southern California Global Investment Forum alongside the San Diego Association of Realtors. Drawing over 200 investors, innovators, entrepreneurs and public sector representatives from across the Bi-National region the Forum kicked off what promises to be a sustained, coordinated effort to feature and offer Southern California’s strengths for a global audience. (See our last blog on San Diego as a Life Changing Global Gateway).
We began with our own San Diego regional innovation expert, Dr. Mary Walshok, Associate Vice Chancellor and Dean at UC San Diego Extension, who discussed the area’s history and culture to frame the priorities that now set it apart from so many other cities in the U.S. And what ultimately makes the region so unique is its ability to marry innovation and collaboration in a way that fosters entrepreneurship and growth both within and across the border into the CaliBaja region of Mexico. The region’s universities, which form a top-tier research cluster, are graduating large numbers of talented entrepreneurs and STEM majors, many of whom are choosing to stay in San Diego, unwilling to abandon its high quality of life and the potential of creating the next SpaceX. No doubt, the presence of the military and world-class universities form the backbone for the region’s entrepreneurial spirit and employment opportunities.
Following on that point, Greg Murphy, Executive Director of The Maritime Alliance, reminded the crowd that San Diego has the largest cluster of “BlueTech” companies in the world, responsible for 46,000 jobs and worth more than $14 billion per year. These ocean-focused companies are producing everything from lab-grown seafood, to autonomous underwater monitoring drones, to world-class wave machines. And this is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to oceanography and technology.
Those of us who have lived in the area for a while, know it has something special. David Graham, Deputy Chief Operating Officer for New Smart and Sustainable Communities for the City of San Diego described the region as “quietly brilliant.” Kevin Kim, Partner at Geraci Law Firm, LLP, echoed the same sentiment, calling San Diego a “sleeper city” that rivals the investment opportunities (if not the dollars just yet) often found in the likes of Silicon Valley. Tristen Blake, Founder and CEO of Co Innovation Labs and a former New Yorker, hails the openness of the region to new ideas - a quality essential for entrepreneurs and investors alike.
So whether you’re talking about research, technology and innovation, life sciences, real estate or hospitality, there is no question that Southern California and our home of San Diego is poised for greater growth and increased global engagement through public private innovation. Now is the time for the world see our region reach its full potential.
Check out our blog section in the coming weeks as we share more great stories and content from the event, as well as more information about what’s coming up for next year.