Jennifer Worrall, whose company Iteros just graduated from CONNECT’s program.

San Diego entrepreneurs launched a record 477 new technology companies in 2016 with $700 million in venture capital financing, according to CONNECT‘s widely followed annual innovation report released Thursday.

It was the largest number of startups created in a year since CONNECT, San Diego’s original technology incubator, began reporting the data in 2005.

One of the San Diego startups from 2016 is Iteros, which develops energy-management software for the electric grid. Jennifer Worrall, the co-founder and chief executive officer, said that with CONNECT’s assistance over a nine-month period, her company has been able to raise nearly $2 million.

“They were instrumental in all the successes that have come our way,” she said. “If there is one piece of advice I have out there for our entrepreneurs or anyone with a big idea, San Diego has what you need to achieve your dream, but take advantage of all these great resources, like CONNECT San Diego.”

The CONNECT report found that San Diego’s innovation economy includes 6,630 tech companies employing 150,000 and now accounts for $55 billion and a quarter of San Diego’s overall gross regional product.

“It’s no secret that the innovation economy is critical to the region’s prosperity, but more importantly innovation is the cornerstone to ensuring that San Diego keeps its place on the global stage long into the future.”said Greg McKee, chief executive officer of CONNECT.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer, who has promoted the innovation economy in San Diego, joined McKee and Worrell at the release of the report.

“San Diego is a city with talented people and groundbreaking companies who are creating jobs and attracting new investment to the region,” Faulconer said. “The numbers make it clear that San Diego’s innovation sector is stronger than ever and will continue to be a vital part of our economy.”

The new startups counted by CONNECT were divided among among six industry categories:

  • 280 software companies
  • 95 life sciences companies
  • 63 communications, computer and electronics companies
  • 21 aerospace, navigation and maritime tech companies
  • 12 recreational goods manufacturing companies
  • 6 environmental technology companies

Those startups created a total of 1,729 jobs with an average salary over $110,000 —  twice as high as the average for all jobs in San Diego County. The county ranked first in California for new life sciences startups, which have among the highest salaries.

CONNECT reported $1.5 billion in venture-capital financing for San Diego companies in 2016 and $134 million from what the tech industry calls “angel” investors, individuals who help startups.

Some $700 million of the venture-capital funding went to early state companies, the highest every, according to McKee.

Chris Jennewein

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