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San Diego: California’s Other Tech Hub

Much is made of San Jose’s status as the tech capital of the world, and rightly so. After all, they don’t call it “Silicon Valley” for nothing. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t other parts of California with a big tech industry presence. As a matter of fact, when it comes to designating another city as a secondary hub for tech sector business and innovation, one needn’t look any further than San Diego.

While San Diego has long been a bastion for California capitalism and free-market entrepreneurship, the region’s major commercial installations have historically been international trade, manufacturing, and scientific research. These days, however, tech startups have taken root in America’s Finest City with many more on the way.

San Diego’s status as a modern-day tech hub can be traced back to the founding of the Qualcomm corporation in 1985. Specializing in wireless technology, the company remains headquartered in San Diego, where it ranks sixth among the city’s top ten employers. The community of San Diego-based tech companies has since grown into the thousands.

So what’s the draw? One would be the quality of San Diego’s talent pool. Another would be local access to world-class products and services. For example, the San Diego digital marketing agency scene is considered to be one of the best in the nation. As a result, tech startups in San Diego have amped up marketing capabilities compared to those in other cities.

Another advantage of being a tech company in San Diego versus elsewhere is having access to defense contracts, many of which involve the development and application of ultra state-of-the-art technology. The city is host to several military bases and the largest naval fleet in the entire world. It’s no surprise upwards of 15,000 businesses in San Diego County depend on contracts with the Department of Defense.

Of course, the biggest draw to San Diego will probably always be the climate. Even the colder parts of the year are still warm enough to go whale watching wearing a windbreaker, while surfers can be spotted year-round. While ultimately not a factor on which a company wants to pin its fate, having great weather doesn’t hurt.

The list of notable tech companies in San Diego includes Inseego, specializing in mobile applications, and Zovio, specializing in analytics in education, as well as sales-minded Seismic. Some of the more recent tech ventures to make a splash include Kaios Technologies, founded in 2016, and Tusimple, founded in 2015.

  1. Another division of tech that has gone through an explosion in San Diego is life sciences and biotech. Home to more than 600 individual life sciences companies, San Diego is the third-largest market for these types of jobs. You can find companies working in genetic sequencing, DNA testing, rare disease research, and even biofuels with a focus on health.

While it’s not exactly Kansas or Alaska, San Diego serves as a seemingly remote and faraway alternative to Silicon Valley. Despite both tech hubs being located in the same state, it can sometimes feel like they’re worlds apart. Some of it can be attributed to the existing distinctions between Northern and Southern California, but others are a little less well-defined and socially ingrained.

With that said, tech companies in Silicon Valley and San Diego are more likely to work together than become entrenched against each other. After all, it’s just a short hop from one to the other by plane.