Daily Business Report-Jan. 17, 2014
Scripps Research Institute Associate Professor Erica Ollmann Saphire (foreground) and Associate Professor Marisa Roberto.
Researchers Unlock the Key to Deadly Virus
Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), led by Professor Erica Ollmann Saphire, have now solved the structure of a key protein in the Nipah virus, an emerging pathogen found in Southeast Asia. Its initial outbreak in humans in 1997 has been followed by yearly outbreaks with increasing mortality rates. Lethality has increased from 40 percent initially to 70 percent and, in some cases, even 100 percent. There are no therapeutics for the virus and no vaccines for humans. This discovery could pave the way for the development of a much-needed antiviral drug.
The virus is carried by the flying fruit bat and causes only mild illness in pigs, dogs, cats, horses, goats and sheep, which also spread the disease. “It’s the scariest virus you’ve never heard of,” said Jessica Bruhn, a graduate student in Saphire’s lab, noting that the movie “Contagion, “ a medical thriller that came out in 2011, is based on outbreaks of the Nipah virus. Bruhn initially designed this study of Nipah as a summer internship project in 2012 for Katherine Barnett, then an undergraduate student in a summer program at TSRI, who is also a co-author of the paper.
Qualcomm Makes Worldwide Patent Top 10 List
Qualcomm has cracked the world’s top 10 list for the number of patents awarded in a year, KPBS reports. The San Diego-based company was one of only three American firms on the list.
The wireless technology company landed in ninth spot in 2013 with 2,103 patents. That’s up sharply from the 1,292 patents Qualcomm added in 2012. That 62 percent gain also pushed it up from its 17 place ranking that year.
Qualcomm joined IBM and Microsoft as the only U.S. companies among the top 10.
Roger Martin is a senior vice president of intellectual property at Qualcomm. The ranking, he said, is a reflection of both the size of the company and the firm’s commitment to research and development. He said R&D spending lagged during the recession, but the company reinvested once the economy improved.
“It is not so much a change in business model or a philosophy about patents,” Martin said. “We’ve always been protecting our innovation. It is reflective of the success of the company and how it came out of the last recession.”
Qualcomm has more than 50,000 patents in its portfolio, according to Martin. The patents involve everything from how cell phones transmit and receive large amounts of data, to technology that allows for wireless links to smart devices in the home.
Governor Declares Drought State of Emergency
With California facing water shortfalls in the driest year in recorded state history, Gov. Jerry Brown today proclaimed a state of emergency and directed state officials to take all necessary actions to prepare for these drought conditions. “We can’t make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California’s drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas,” said Brown. “I’ve declared this emergency and I’m calling all Californians to conserve water in every way possible.”
In the State of Emergency declaration, Brown directed state officials to assist farmers and communities that are economically impacted by dry conditions and to ensure the state can respond if Californians face drinking water shortages. The governor also directed state agencies to use less water and hire more firefighters and initiated a greatly expanded water conservation public awareness campaign.
The proclamation gives state water officials more flexibility to manage supply throughout California under drought conditions.
State water officials say that California’s river and reservoirs are below their record lows. Manual and electronic readings record the snowpack’s statewide water content at about 20 percent of normal average for this time of year.
Retail Market Panel
Retail Market Forecast: Signs of Optimism in San Diego
San Diego is poised for retail growth, according to panelists at the International Council of Shopping Centers 2014 San Diego Retail Market Forecast this week. “Unlike other areas, San Diego is not over-retailed,” said Gregg R. Sadowsky, senior vice president of Regency Centers. “There is demand and I see strong growth for San Diego.”
More than 200 people attended the program, which focused on changes in San Diego’s retail scene. It is just one of the ICSC Southern California chapter’s events that connect shopping center owners with developers, investors, retailers and other major players in the market.
Former San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders noted in his keynote address that business optimism has increased. “According to the Chamber’s San Diego County Business Forecast, sponsored by Silvergate Bank, there was a slight uptick in business confidence at the end of 2013,” said Sanders. “I hope that business confidence continues to improve in 2014 as more businesses learn about the Affordable Care Act and its impacts, and with the runoff election for the San Diego mayoral race.”
Kelley Maher-Neff, senior vice president of Madison Marquette, moderated the panel discussion, which focused on the year ahead in San Diego retail and highlighted major retail developments in various stages of completion. In addition to Sadowsky, the panel of local industry leaders included Steve R. Scott, senior vice president of Kilroy Realty Corp.; Michael P. Orlando, owner, partner and chairman of The Orlando Company Inc.; and Colton T. Sudberry, president of Sudberry Properties Inc.
Panelists addressed the shift towards e-retail and brick-and-mortar stores’ struggle to appeal to local residents.
“It’s all about engaging the customer,” said Orlando. “We have to work hard to get the right mix of local and national tenants.”
Sudberry added that successful stores have found that, “creating a sense of place translates into better places for the community. It’s the right thing to do for the community and the right thing financially.”
Rotarian Terrence Caster and Wife Donate $1.85 Million to Rotary Programs
San Diego businessman and Rotary club member Terrence Caster and his wife Barbara have donated $1.85 million to Rotary in support of the humanitarian service group’s polio eradication and peace studies programs.
“Barbara and I are blessed to be fruitful in our family business A-1 Self Storage, and we’ve always felt it is important to give back and help others,” said Caster, the company’s founder and a member of the Rotary Club of La Mesa. “As a result, we are involved in numerous charities. But as a Rotarian, I can think of no cause more worthy than Rotary’s work to end polio and promote world peace.”
The donation, announced during an annual conference of Rotary leaders in San Diego, is among the largest single gifts ever made to the organization by an individual Rotary club member.
The largest share of the gift, $1.1 million, will go to Rotary’s PolioPlus program, which works to immunize children in the developing world against this disabling infectious disease. The remainder of the gift, $750,000, will go to the endowment fund of Rotary’s Peace Centers program, which offers master’s degree-level fellowships in peace studies and conflict resolution at six major universities in five countries.
Ann Kinner Named Chair of Business Leadership Council
Ann Kinner, owner of Seabreeze Nautical Books and Charts in Point Loma, has been named chair of the 2014 Leadership Council of the National Federation of Independent Business, California. The group is responsible for advising the state public policy staff on issues that are important to small businesses in California. Paul Cramer of Star Milling Co. in Perris, is vice chair. Sunder Ramani of Penta Media Resources in Burbank, is SAFE Trust chair.
Katie Hansen Appointed
Community Affairs Chief for Training Trust
Katie Hansen has been appointed director of community affairs for the ABC San Diego Apprenticeship Training Trust. Hansen will represent the trust in the newly created position to cultivate its relationships with business, civic and education leaders. Hansen has more than a decade of experience implementing similar community relations initiatives in business and government. She was manager of government affairs for Cricket Communications/Leap Wireless and was chief of staff to San Diego Councilman Kevin Faulconer. Hansen has also represented the California Restaurant Association and Biocom, the biotechnology trade association. She is a graduate of San Diego State University.
Chip Stockmeyer Joins Cassidy Turley
Chip Stockmeyer has joined Cassidy Turley, a real estate services provider, as senior project manager with its Project & Development Services Group in San Diego. Stockmeyer will oversee construction management for new site development, build-to-suits and tenant improvement projects. He has more than 18 years of industry experience. Most recently he was a project manager with CBRE in San Diego and previously was a project manager for Johnson and Jennings, a local general contracting firm. Stockmeyer earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental design from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He completed the Architectural Master’s Program at University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.
Walt Ekard Honored by Building Owners and Managers
The San Diego Building Owners & Managers Association presented its 2014 Public Official of the Year Award to Walt Ekard, former county of San Diego chief administrative officer and city of San Diego chief operating officer. “This award honors Walt’s significant contributions during his many years of public service,” said Kristin Howell, BOMA president. The award also reflects Ekard’s dedication to the county and city of San Diego for more than three decades.
Ekard’s extensive presence in San Diego has included policy aide to Supervisor Paul Fordem in 1981, chief of staff to Supervisor Brian Bilbray in 1985, county chief administrative officer for three terms and lastly interim chief operating officer for the city of San Diego during 2013.