The impact of life sciences on the San Diego metro region cannot be overstated as it currently ranks as the third largest hub in the country. Biotech companies are leasing millions of square feet across the city, as companies like Thermo Fisher Scientific, Bristol Myers Squibb, and Artiva Biotherapeutics anchor an incredibly strong ecosystem that is creating cutting-edge medical technology and life-saving cures for diseases.
While San Diego has long been an established life science hub – offering leaders in the sector a robust ecosystem and proximity to San Diego’s finest universities and research institutes, including UC San Diego, Salk Institute, and the Scripps Research Institute – the pandemic fueled an unprecedented level of activity in the industry.
Since 2020, the number of people working in the life science sector has increased dramatically, up to nearly 70,000 in the San Diego community, and the industry is generating nearly $28 billion in gross regional product. That growing workforce combined with the demand for research facilities has led to record low vacancy rates across the city.
The demand for life science facilities is highest in the city’s top innovation clusters. Torrey Pines has a vacancy rate of 1.1 percent, the lowest in San Diego’s top four markets while other emerging submarkets aren’t far behind. Sorrento Mesa has a vacancy rate of 5.7 percent; Sorrento Valley and UTC are each at just 2.6 percent. These metrics indicate serious demand for life science space, and a real need for world-class, thoughtful developments that increase the available supply and enable continued growth.
Longfellow Real Estate Partners, the largest privately held investor and developer of life science buildings in the world, has had the privilege to support the rapid growth of San Diego’s life science ecosystem. Over the last several years, Longfellow has increased our portfolio to over four million square feet in San Diego alone, to fully support the growth of the city’s ongoing innovation economy.
“San Diego continues to develop and draw the world’s top talent in life science and biotech innovation, much of that growth has been in our submarkets of Sorrento Mesa and Sorrento Valley where Longfellow has a deep commitment to building a world-class innovation ecosystem,” said San Diego City Councilmember Chris Cate. “I look forward to Longfellow’s continued investment in the region as we work together to create the 21st-century infrastructure our city and economy demands.”
For us, the process of building the infrastructure to meet the demand in San Diego began with transformative conversion projects. Longfellow’s first acquisition, the SOVA Science District in the Sorrento Valley, was previously a 1980s-style office park. Our team reimagined and converted the site to offer companies top-quality lab space, and an award-winning campus with rich amenities including an outdoor beer garden provided by local vendor New English Brewing.
SOVA’s campus is also a hub for community organizations. Our campus plays host to numerous activities from outstanding groups such as the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, California Life Sciences, and the Urban Land Institute San Diego-Tijuana. As we welcome these groups onto our campus, it drives to one of the main missions of Longfellow as we continue to build collaborative relationships with others and provide the space for innovation to grow.
“At the Chamber, we love to see businesses that are excited about being a vital part of San Diego and commit to growing and strengthening our communities for the long haul, and that’s exactly what Longfellow is doing,” said Jerry Sanders, Former San Diego Mayor, and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce. “With the development of these state-of-the-art life science research centers, we are continuing to develop the 21st-century infrastructure our economy demands and ensuring that San Diego continues to be a leader in life science and biotech innovation.”
Conversion projects like the SOVA Science District represent one important method for bringing online the space the San Diego market needs. However, conversions can come with limitations. On the other hand, ground-up projects enable the creation of a purpose-built facility that is flexible to companies’ needs and that better addresses Longfellow’s sustainability goals and California’s environmental standards.
We are excited for this next step in strengthening San Diego’s life science ecosystem. Earlier this summer, Longfellow celebrated the groundbreaking of Bioterra, a six-story campus in the heart of Sorrento Mesa with a beautiful rooftop space and a curated selection of food and beverage options open to the public. Bioterra will also have the distinction of being the first life science building in San Diego designed with an all-electric cooling and heating system.
Investing and developing in the communities where we live, work, and play is at the heart of Longfellow’s long-term investments in San Diego’s life science ecosystem. As the demand for thoughtful, sustainable space grows within the local life science industry, our team will continue to meet that demand, providing the framework for some of the world’s most powerful innovations that advance the human condition.
~ Longfellow Real Estate Partners is the largest privately held investor and developer of life science buildings in the world. With over 200 employees and a portfolio that spans over 16 million square feet across offices and projects in San Diego, Boston-Cambridge, Maryland-Washington D.C., New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco Bay Area, Research Triangle of North Carolina and the United Kingdom, Longfellow partners with renowned universities and pioneering life sciences and technology companies to help bring visionary ideas to life. Driven by a passion to support those working to advance the human condition, Longfellow continues to grow and expand in the name of scientific progress.