San Diego region named a state Innovation Hub


San Diego has been designated the seventh and most recent Innovation Hub (iHub), part of a statewide initiative to stimulate regional partnerships, economic development and job creation built around research clusters.

In San Diego’s case, those clusters are mobile health, biofuels and solar energy and energy storage.

Representatives from the biotech, hi-tech and biomed industries joined Joel Ayala from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development at a press conference Tuesday at Scripps Translational Science Institute to announce the San Diego iHub’s formation.

San Diego iHub partners, among others, include UCSD and SDSU, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, BIOCOM, Clean Tech San Diego and San Diego Venture Group.

Eric J. Topol, M.D., the translational institute’s director, showed off several wireless medical “gadgets,” noting they were part of the institute’s mission of “accelerating research that changes the future of medicine.”

He called San Diego “the wireless capital of the world, not just Qualcomm but 600 other companies in this region. It really is redefining, rebooting health care.”

Topol showed one device that can capture a person’s heart rhythm for a week at a time.

“This is like Netflix for the heart,” he said. “It can be mailed to the individual who wants to check their heart rhythm, then mailed back to the facility.”

Topol also displayed a mobile instrument for monitoring heart failure and a portable pocket echo device that can be used to echo any part of the body.

“It is much more definitive than a stethoscope,” he said.

In a press release, Gov. Schwarzenegger noted: “The iHub initiative provides a platform for research clusters, startup companies, government entities, business groups and venture capitalists by leveraging assets such as research parks, technology incubators, universities and federal laboratories to foster innovation and job creation statewide.

The announcement came on the same day that a San Diego coalition was awarded a $4 million grant by the California Department of Labor today for workforce training programs in the biofuels industry.

The San Diego Biofuels Initiative is a collaboration that includes some of the same partners as the iHub: CleanTECH San Diego, BIOCOM, San Diego Regional EDC, San Diego Center for Algae Biotechnology and the San Diego Workforce Partnership.