SDBN Podcast: How San Diego Became an Innovation Hub

Mary Walshok

You already know San Diego is a fantastic place for science and technology.  But maybe you think that happened by accident or just because the weather is spectacular. The climate does play a part, but there was also some vision and effort that made it what it is today.

Mary Walshok is the Dean of the UCSD Extension and a fantastic storyteller who has studied the history of San Diego as a sociologist, exploring the factors that shaped the city along the way to becoming what it is today.

It turns out, San Diego is a small midwestern town on the edge of the Pacific Ocean.

In this interview, she describes the people who migrated from the midwest for health reasons and how they influenced the culture that would eventually evolve.

World War One had a major impact as well. Science and technology were becoming very important for the region and the country. The early residents weren’t keen on industrial manufacturing, though and had a different vision for growth.

Mary talks about the leaders who convinced the Navy to put a base in San Diego and others who later persuaded the University of California to put a campus nearby. Of course, science played a major role throughout.

Finally she explains how San Diego has avoided becoming a “company town” and why what a town really wants isn’t companies, but rather talent.

This isn’t the usual science or business interview, but it explains the success of both in San Diego. It is a fascinating story.

Invention and Reinvention: The Evolution of San Diego’s Innovation Economy

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