San Diego Shines Among Top 10 Biotech Product Innovators in 2014

  • Five of the Top 10 Biotech Products Picked by The Scientist were Developed by San Diego Companies
  • Most of the Innovations Involve Genomics
  • List Includes Several Repeat Winners as well as new Leaders in Cutting-Edge Technology

Recently The Scientist published its annual list of top 10 innovations for 2014. There are several repeat winners this year, including Illumina with two new sequencers and Leica Microsystems with a new 3D superresolution microscope. There are also a number of exciting new products associated with cutting edge technology in fields like human organ models and a Twitter-like site to handle the ever-increasing number of scientific publications. One of the most notable attributes of this year’s list, however, is that half of the award winning companies are based right here in San Diego.

Before zoning in—pun intended—to biotech in the San Diego area, let’s take a quick look at the map below that shows the number of biotech R&D organizations in the U.S. as of August 2014. Probably not surprising to many of you, California is the numerical leader (821), followed by Massachusetts (267), Maryland (173), New York (138), Pennsylvania (134), and New Jersey (110). While these East Coast runners-up in aggregate are a geographical biotech hub numerically comparable the Golden State, the sheer magnitude of California’s biotech industry is unquestionably impressive.

This colorized map highlights regional variations in the number of organizations in the biotech R&D sector. Taken from caliper.com via Bing Images.

This colorized map highlights regional variations in the number of organizations in the biotech R&D sector. Taken from caliper.com via Bing Images.

Money wise by city, San Francisco ($1.15B), Boston ($933M), and San Diego ($387M) were the top three for venture capital investing in 2013, according to data assembled by Thompson Reuters. Job wise, 1.3 million people are directly involved in biosciences, with another 5.8 million workers in related industry sectors, according to recent government statistics for the U.S. biotech industry. That’s 1 out of every ~17 full-time employees in the U.S., which is a heck of lot of biotech brains and brawn!

San Diego’s Biotech Beach is Booming

Over the years, San Diego has become known as Biotech Beach—southern California’s answer to the San Francisco Bay Area moniker of Bay Biotech. While many of us have always found Biotech Beach to be inspiring and stimulating, it’s nice to see that the area is getting some official recognition.

Click here for an interactive version of this map of Biotech Beach taken from by BioSpace.

Click here for an interactive version of this map of Biotech Beach taken from by BioSpace.

As mentioned at the beginning of this post, San Diego is home to 5 of the top 10 product innovations of 2014 reported in The Scientist. You can see in the map above that TriLink BioTechnologies is literally in the middle of Biotech Beach where this innovation occurred—along with loads more of biotech R&D. So, I thought it apropos to briefly mention each of The Scientist’s notable products. With a mental drum roll, here’s the rank-ordered list:

  1. DRAGEN Bio-IT Processor developed by Edico Genome (La Jolla), shrinks the physical bulk of genomic analysis to a chip that could be installed in a server the size of a desktop computer, drastically shrinking the cost of data analysis.
  1. MiSeqDx from Illumina (San Diego) is a breadbox-size gadget that brings next-generation sequencing to clinical labs.
  1. HiSeq X Ten, the newest sequencer from Illumina (San Diego), reaches a long-anticipated milestone: the $1,000 human genome.
  1. IrysChip from BioNano Genomics (San Diego) provides a high-throughput platform for visualizing large-scale genomic structure, with applications for mapping, assembly, and evolutionary analyses.
  1. RainDrop Digital PCR System developed by RainDance Technologies (Billerica, Massachusetts) provides a droplet digital PCR platform with sensitivity and specificity for a wide variety of applications.
  1. TCS SP8 STED 3X by Leica Microsystems (Buffalo Grove, Illinois) is a new generation, super-resolution microscope allowing 3D imaging at several frames per second.
  1. exVive3D Liver from Organovo (San Diego) may eventually obviate the need for animal models in a number of fields, from drug development to environmental toxicology.
  1. HAP1 Knock-Out Cell Lines developed by Haplogen Genomics (Vienna, Austria) uses CRISPR-Cas9 technology to knock out any gene a customer wants to target.
  1. PreciseType Human Erythrocyte Antigen Test from Immucor (Norcross, Georgia) is an array-based test for faster, better blood donor/patient matching critical for transfusions.
  1. Sciencescape offered by Sciencescape (Toronto, Ontario, Canada) uses big data to allow users to rapidly navigate thousands of papers to find, monitor, and share research publications of interest.

In closing, I should note that there’s always been a spirit of innovation in and around San Diego, which is one of the reasons the founders of TriLink were inspired to start their own company here almost 20 years ago. I think I can safely speak for all of us involved in the San Diego biotech community when I say that we are beyond excited to see what will emerge from this area over the next 20 years!

Very cool.

Taken from hayadan.org via Bing Images.

Taken from hayadan.org via Bing Images.

Please take a moment to share your favorite products from 2014 in the comments section below. I look forward to hearing about the innovations that you find particularly intriguing.

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