A UC San Diego student examines a bacteria culture. Photo courtesy UCSD

California’s national lead in the life sciences industry is growing, and San Diego plays a key role in what is emerging as one of the state’s largest industries, according to a new report by the La Jolla-based California Healthcare Institute.

The report by the nonprofit, public-policy research organization showed that California leads the nation in job growth, federal research dollars, venture capital and doctoral graduates in the life sciences industry.

“The life sciences sector continues to drive our state’s 21st century economy,” said Todd E. Gillenwater, president and CEO of the institute. “270,000 Californians are employed by over 2,600 companies, with average wages topping $100,000. It is no coincidence that California is also home to 11 of the world’s top universities and that we garner more federal biomedical research dollars than any other state in the nation.”

San Diego accounts for 14 percent of life science jobs and 17 percent of the venture capital, while UC San Diego ranked with Stanford University and UC San Francisco as a top recipient of federal research grants.

Key findings of the report, which was prepared in cooperation with the consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, are:

  • California life sciences companies generated $101 billion in revenue in 2013.
  • California scientists received $3.3 billion in National Institutes of Health research grants in federal fiscal year 2014.
  • California has 2,636 life sciences companies in 2014.
  • $3.8 billion in life sciences venture capital is projected to be invested in California companies in 2014, with San Diego projected to receive $647 million.
  • California companies have 1,205 new medicines in the development pipeline.
  • California employment in the life sciences has surpassed that of other major state industries, such as aerospace, electronic equipment manufacturing, telecommunications and data processing

Gov. Jerry Brown applauded the results of the study, which was released late last week.

“California leads the nation in the biomedical industry, supporting highly skilled and well-paying jobs in communities across the state,” said Brown. “I look forward to continuing to work with leaders from companies and research institutions throughout the state to find solutions that advance new medical technologies, strengthen our economy and contribute to a healthier society.”

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.