United States

San Diego #13

“San Diego has become a diversified ecosystem for several industries ripe for entrepreneurs.”

Forbes
#4 North American Ecosystem in Knowledge
Top 10 Global Ecosystem in Performance
Top 5 North American Ecosystem in Performance

Highlights

With an average 266 days of sunshine per year, well-maintained infrastructure, and a business-friendly environment, there’s much to attract entrepreneurs to San Diego.


In 2021, San Diego County raised a record $9.6 billion in startup investment, up 55% from 2020, which was also a record. A strong Life Sciences scene contributed to this success: VC funding in the sub-sector totalled a record $43.3 billion in 2021. DNA sequencing startup Element Bioscience raised $276 million in a July 2021 Series C round, and rapid diagnostics startup Cue Health raised $200 million in a September 2021 IPO.


In other tech sectors, defense tech startup Shield AI raised $210 million in a Series D round in August 2021, bringing its total raised to $348.1 million, productivity software startup ClickUp raised $400 million in an October 2021 Series C round, and logistics tech provider Flock Freight raised $215 million in a Series D round the same month.


Launched in 2018 and informed by a partnership with the Brookings Institution, the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation’s Inclusive Growth Initiative sets the goal of 50,000 new quality jobs in small businesses by 2030. Qualified sites within North County can take advantage of an extension of the U.S. Foreign-Trade Zone program that offers international traders, importers, and exporters opportunities to take advantage of special customs privileges, lowering barriers to global trade.

Ecosystem by the Numbers

TOTAL EARLY STAGE FUNDING
(2019H2-2021)
$2.8 bn
GLOBAL AVG.
$687 m
ECOSYSTEM VALUE
(2019H2-2021)
$94 bn
GLOBAL AVG.
$28.6 bn
MEDIAN SEED ROUND (2019H2-2021)
$1.1 m
GLOBAL AVG.
$671 k
MEDIAN SERIES A ROUND (2019H2-2021)
$10 m
GLOBAL AVG.
$4.7 m
SOFT. ENGINEER SALARY (2021)
$92 k
GLOBAL AVG.
$46 k
31 bn
GLOBAL AVG.
11.3 bn
285
GLOBAL AVG.
101
Amount ($)
Count (#)

Exits

(2017-2021)
EARLY-STAGE FUNDING GROWTH TIER (2018/19 VS. 2020/21)
5
Calculated on a scale of
1 (lowest) to 10 (highest)
TOTAL VC FUNDING (2017-2021)
$16 bn
GLOBAL AVG.
$4.5 bn
TIME TO EXIT (2017-2021)
10.1 years
GLOBAL AVG.
9.4 years

Sub-Sector Strengths

Life Sciences

San Diego is in the top 12 markets in the U.S. for Life Sciences. SeedFolio, a seed-stage VC firm focused on Life Science startups, launched in March 2021 and has made direct investments in more than 45 companies. BioLegend, which develops antibodies and reagents for biomedical research, was acquired by PerkinElmer for $5.7 billion in September 2021. PerkinElmer's existing state-of-the-art campus in San Diego will become a global Center of Excellence for research reagent content development for the combined company. Nalu Medical raised $104 million in February 2022 for its system to treat chronic nerve pain.

Cleantech

San Diego’s Cleantech sector supports nearly 40,000 jobs and has an economic impact of $8.2 billion. The city ranked #21 in the Startup Genome Report: Cleantech Edition. Innovative Cleantech startups include Wildcat Discovery Technologies, which develops advanced materials for rechargeable and primary batteries and has raised $70 million to date, and Clean Air Power, which is developing technology for natural gas to power vehicles. Cleantech San Diego is a member-based business association that positions the greater San Diego region as a global leader in the Cleantech economy.

Reasons to Move Your Startup to San Diego

Cost of Living

San Diego is just over 100 miles from downtown Los Angeles, but offers 10% cheaper cost of living. This means that entrepreneurs can easily access many of the business networking opportunities that the City of Angels has to offer at a more affordable rate. San Diego is also approximately 18% cheaper than San Francisco.

Business-Friendly Environment

In recent years, the City of San Diego has concentrated on improving its business assistance programs, cutting costs, and changing policies to help businesses launch and expand. It has reduced permit processing time,reduced fees and modified codes to provide businesses with regulatory relief. Its Online Business Portal further assists entrepreneurs.

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