The San Diego region is one of the top locations in the world for the life science industry. The industry serves as a major economic driver in San Diego, totaling $33.6 billion in economic impact. This field of work is responsible for hundreds of thousands of jobs, employing more than 360,000 individuals in 2016. The San Diego area is home to over 1,225 life sciences companies and more than 80 independent and university-affiliated research facilities in the San Diego area. With endless opportunities and growth, Black employees make up 4% of the industry. Black Executives and Board members make up only 1% of the industry.
A current initiative of the Chamber is fostering more equity and inclusion as well as opportunities for Black professionals and entrepreneurs to succeed in this space. On December 8th, the Chamber sponsored a seed pitch competition hosted by the National Society of Black Engineers. The winning company NewGait took home $2500 in cash, prizes, and complimentary services. The NewGait a medical rehabilitation device, and is responsible for treating individuals with gait abnormalities. It is intended for physical therapy uses, and has transformed the lives of many patients. The product was conceptualized by San Diego resident, Benga Adeeko, in 2014, with original intentions of the product being used for athlete training purposes. After being developed for years, the NewGait came to light in 2016 after physical therapist Kim Spranger saw what benefits this device could bring to her patients. The NewGait technology pivots this field of medicine to being both effective and affordable, costing thousands of dollars less than leading treatments for these conditions.
After winning the competition, Benga Adeeko shared in an interview, “… we need more Black founders to start companies in the life science and biotech industry. There is a big opportunity to not only build wealth but also make an impact in the healthcare industry.
Other Black owned Life Science companies that are making great strides in San Diego include, Roswell Biotechnologies, the pioneer in the development of a molecular electronics platform for DNA sequencing. Led by founder, Paul Mola, recently announced that it is a member of a team led by Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) that has been awarded a US government contract worth up to $25 million to develop a sequencing technology capable of reading data stored in DNA.