How AI fuels life sciences breakthroughs in San Diego

Dec 07, 2022 - Heather Dewis

San Diego boasts some of the world’s most cutting-edge companies and research institutions focused on enhancing human health and transforming how life-threatening diseases are treated. San Diego is also a leader in artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI-ML) technologies, with large numbers of federal contract awards, patents, VC raises, jobs, and startups in the region.

Together, AI-ML technology and life sciences companies are accelerating the pace of innovation in biopharmaceuticals, surgical, medical, and wearable devices, and advanced manufacturing. In a new report, underwriter Booz Allen Hamilton and nonprofit San Diego Regional EDC explored how AI-ML is contributing to a new era of life-saving precision medicine.

Here’s what we learned:

1. San Diego is a top life sciences growth market among AI-ML peer metros.

Want to make scientific innovation your career? There’s no better place than San Diego.

Even amid the pandemic, life sciences jobs in San Diego grew 11.2 percent, totaling 51 percent growth over the last decade. With more than 1,800 San Diego life sciences companies and an average wage of $168,694 that beats out New York, Seattle, and Los Angeles, the region offers plenty of opportunities for a career in this field.

The region’s a magnet for investment too, with life sciences startups raking in a record $5.1 billion in VC funding and $1.1 billion in NIH funding in 2021.

2. San Diego’s life sciences companies are in the early stages of AI adoption, paving way for exponential impact.

AI and life sciences study: Scientist with white lab coat, dark hair tied back, and blue face mask working at a biopharmaceutical machine.

While San Diego life sciences subindustries like R&D and medical device manufacturing have leveraged AI-ML in significant ways, a growing 18 percent of local companies are only just beginning to tap into the technology’s potential. One such company is biopharmaceutical giant Bristol Myers Squibb.

“Our Informatics and Predictive Sciences team in San Diego is deploying AI-ML to accelerate the drug discovery process,” said Neil Bence, Ph.D., Vice President of Oncology Discovery and San Diego Site Head.

“These approaches benefit virtually every aspect of drug discovery from accelerating the rate at which our chemistry teams can optimize compounds, to allowing us to better predict which patient populations are most likely to benefit from a novel medicine. The objective is to enable BMS to bring successful and safe medications to patients faster by leveraging AI-ML.”

Indeed, the best is yet to come for AI in San Diego.

3. San Diego’s AI talent pool is active and growing.

More than 15,000 AI-ML professionals already call San Diego home (and you could too).

Skills in AI-ML are in high-demand, with San Diego companies offering a striking 72 percent premium on wages for professionals up-to-speed on this emerging tech.

Between this wage premium, new local programs dedicated to teaching AI-ML skills, and rising degree completions, San Diego’s investment in both life sciences and AI-ML appears future proof. In fact, there’s more than 29 million square feet of proposed or planned development in the works (Q3 2022), including more than 750,000 square feet in office to lab conversions.

Because after all, you need the space to change the world.

Want to learn more about AI-ML and life sciences in San Diego? Dig into the full report.

This study series was generously underwritten by Booz Allen Hamilton and produced by San Diego Regional EDC. Read the full AI series examining AI-ML in San Diego and learn more about EDC’s research here.


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