Daily Business Report-March 6, 2014
J. Craig Venter said Human Longevity Inc.’s goal is to better understand the aging process by sequencing 40,000 genomes in its first year.
New San Diego Biotech Company Targets Aging
With Lots (and Lots) of Genome Sequencing
J. Craig Venter mapped the human genome, now he wants to ‘cure’ aging
J. Craig Venter was one of the first scientists to sequence a human genome. A decade later, he’s hoping to push genomics forward again with a new San Diego-based company.
In its Tuesday launch, Human Longevity Inc. outlined its goal to better understand the aging process by sequencing 40,000 genomes in its first year.
The scale of Venter’s latest effort wouldn’t be possible without progress made by another San Diego company, Illumina. Human Longevity Inc. will rely on Illumina’s latest gene sequencing technology, which brings the cost of sequencing an individual genome down to $1,000. That’s quite a price cut from $100 million, the original cost of sequencing when Venter raced to complete the first genome.
Human Longevity co-founder Peter Diamandis believes it’s now feasible to study enough sick and healthy people to pinpoint the genes driving long, healthy lifespans.
“We’re going to be creating one of the world’s largest databases,” Diamandis said. “It will allow us to really unlock what’s going on — why some people live to be centenarians and why some people don’t.”
Consenting patients at UC San Diego’s Moores Cancer Center will be among the first to have their genome sequenced by Human Longevity Inc. The company also wants to study healthy individuals 100 years and older.
Human Longevity plans to make money by eventually selling their data to researchers and biotech companies. And Diamandis thinks San Diego is a perfect home base for the new company.
“Just like Silicon Valley was the gravitational center for a lot of the computer and network and online startups, I think we’re going to see San Diego become the gravitational center for a lot of biologics,” he said.
— Reported by David Wagner, KPBS
Port Clears Way for Hotel on Lane Field
Also approved: a 175-room hotel on Harbor Island
Construction of a new bayfront hotel planned for the long-ago home of the minor league Padres could begin as early as next month, following the approval Tuesday by Port Commissioners of a lease agreement for the $130 million project, the U-T San Diego reports.
Nine years in the making, the project, at 400 rooms, is the largest since the opening in 2008 of the 1,190-room San Diego Bayfront Hilton.
Located on Lane Field at the northeast corner of Broadway and North Harbor Drive, the development consists of a two-wing building containing two mid-scale Marriott-branded hotels of 147 and 253 rooms that will be served by a four-level, above ground parking structure. The plans include a rooftop restaurant or bar, terrace-level swimming pool and second-floor outdoor deck facing the bay.
The Lane Field project was one of two hotels the San Diego Unified Port District considered at its Tuesday meeting. Commissioners also cleared the way for a 175-room, four-story limited service hotel (few meeting rooms and no restaurants) planned for the eastern end of Harbor Island where the developer, Sunroad Enterprises, operates a marina.
At one time envisioned as a 600-room, 24-story luxury hotel, the project was eventually abandoned in the face of an economic downturn and environmental and traffic concerns.
Chamber Survey Finds Bright Business Outlook
San Diego business owners are feeling more optimistic about the region’s economic health, according to a Regional San Diego Chamber of Commerce survey. The Chamber of Commerce business index hit a seven-month high in January and it continues to track closely with economic predictions for the region. Both are showing positive movement since last summer.
The chamber polls companies on revenue, industry conditions, number of employees and employee hours. The result is a positive outlook for the seven-month-old report.
The chamber worked on the survey with Silvergate Bank, San Diego County and Competitive Edge Research. Silvergate Bank president Alan Lane said the poll found the region’s visitor industries are the most highly regarded sector of the economy. Life sciences, defense and construction were ranked second, third and fourth.
The survey also found more than half of companies with more than 50 workers plan to add staff in coming months. Smaller businesses were not that optimistic. — KPBS report
Escondido Office Building Sells for $1.1 Million
ESCONDIDO — A two-story office building adjacent to the recently redeveloped Maple Plaza has been sold for $1.1 million to Vista Pacific Properties LLC. The acquisition was for the purpose of acquiring an administrative office building for the recently opened John Paul the Great Catholic University located across the street at 155 W Grand Ave. The seller of the property was the William E. Clark Jr. and Evelyn J. Clark Family Trust. CDC Commercial Inc. represented the buyer and seller in the transaction.
UC San Diego Programs Best in Nation for Algal Biofuel Research
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) recently ranked two programs at UC San Diego as the best in the country for biofuels research. Scripps Institution of Oceanography was chosen as top in the nation and the UC San Diego Consortium for Algal Biofuels Commercialization came in second.
An external group of experts from industry, academia, government and the nonprofit sector evaluated 219 projects across nine technology areas representing $1.6 billion of BETO-supported research. The 28 algae technology area projects reviewed by the panel were ranked based on technical progress, project relevance, and critical success factors.
Australian Product Design Firm to Open San Diego Office
Outerspace Design Group, an Australian product design and manufacturing company best known for making the LifeProof case for Apple products, will soon be opening an office in San Diego, according to Connect. The company specializes in industrial design, product engineering, and brand development.
Clark/McCarthy Joint Venture Honored
Clark/MCarthy, a joint venture that built Camp Pendleton’s Naval Hospital, has received the Associated General Contractors of America’s Alliant Build America Award for their work on the project. The association described the hospital as one of the most significant construction projects of 2013.
The new 67-acre campus project included construction of a replacement hospital, a central utility plant, a new parking facility and surface parking spaces for over 2,500 visitors, personnel and patients. Beyond designing and constructing the hospital campus, the design-build team planned, procured and installed all medical equipment, in addition to training hospital staff. The joint venture team of Clark Construction and McCarthy Building Companies completed the project six months ahead of schedule and over $100 million dollars under budget.
SDSU Holds Session on Craft Beer Certificate
SDSU’s College of Extended Studies will host an information session for its Professional Certificate in the Business of Craft Beer program from 6-7:30 p.m. on March 13 at Helm’s Brewing Co., 5640 Kearny Mesa Road, San Diego To RSVP, visit www.neverstoplearning.net/craftbeer.
Attendees will learn about SDSU’s professional certificate program in craft beer. They will hear about the program, meet current students and instructors and see what’s on tap for summer courses.
San Diego has more than 80 craft breweries and was recently named “Top Beer Town” in the U.S. SDSU’s College of Extended Studies created the Business of Craft Beer certificate to foster an overall appreciation of craft beer through interactive, hands-on learning. Classes are held onsite at local breweries and at SDSU.
To learn more about this program, call (619) 594-1138.
Erin Dillon Joins Gerson Law Firm
Erin Dillon has joined the Gerson Law Firm as part of its creditor rights practice group. She has extensive experience in creditor bankruptcy, receivership, landlord-tenant (commercial), receiverships, and commercial collections. Dillon is a graduate of the University of Chicago and California Western School of Law.
North County Stronger Economically Than Some States
The North County Economic Development Council convened its first economic summit Wednesday in Carlsbad, KPBS reports. Speaking to a packed hall of about 300 North County leaders, Josh Williams of BW Research described the region as stronger economically than some states.
“If we took North County and made it its own state,” Williams said, “it would have a higher gross domestic product or gross regional product than Vermont, Wyoming, Montana, more than Maine, at about $54 billion a year.” But, Williams said, the region has its challenges. “North County was hit harder and has recovered slower than either San Diego County, California or the United States as a whole, from the great recession.”
On the bright side, North County produced 40 percent of all the patents produced in the San Diego region. A strong group of industry clusters include biotech, biomed and clean tech companies, as well as sporting goods and tourism.