Entrepreneurial Ecosytem Spotlight: San Diego, CA

San Diego

San Diego, CA has earned the nickname, “America’s Finest City,” and is known as one of the best cities for young professionals.

San Diego is the second-largest city in California and the eighth-largest in the country. Thanks to a wonderful climate and beautiful sights, San Diego has earned the nickname, “America’s Finest City.” Additionally, the city tied for 23rd on Forbes’ list of the best cities for young professionals, and although it ranked just 67th in WalletHub’s list of the best large cities to start a business, it landed in the top-25 in both the “Business Environment” and “Access to Resources” categories.

Based on these rankings, FundingSage has reviewed the resources that make up San Diego’s entrepreneurial ecosystem: 

Entrepreneurial Meetups:

A meetup where Christian women network and learn about strategies to grow their businesses based on Biblical principles.

Betters entrepreneurs through regular events including networking opportunities and events, coaching, and workshops.

Offers events for networking and learning without the hassle of required regular attendance or memberships.

Opportunity for entrepreneurs to network and learn about the best ways to market their ideas and businesses.

Hosts weekly meetups on a variety of topics related to entrepreneurship and small business.

Organizes regular meetings and workshops as well as major events.

Provides a platform for professional and successful women to network and contribute to each other’s success.

Entrepreneurs can come to SDYEN to network and discover new and emerging technologies.

Networking opportunities aimed primarily at tech-focused startups and female-led businesses.


Regular Entrepreneurial Events:

Annual conference for innovators and entrepreneurs to learn and compete, sponsored and hosted by UC San Diego.

SDBJ has several annual award ceremonies honoring business owners and decision makers, including the Veteran and Military Entrepreneur Conference & Awards.

An annual week-long event that includes over 200 speakers, panels, and programs relating to entrepreneurs and startups.

Ceremony designed to honor some of the best and most successful entrepreneurs in the San Diego area.


Startup Competitions:

Hosted by UC San Diego, The Entrepreneur Challenge hosts several competitions to help student entrepreneurs successfully grow their companies.

San Diego County high school juniors and seniors can apply to compete with their business ideas in this educational competition.

The IGNITE Conference hosts 3 different competitions: An Elevator Pitch competition for mid-stage companies, an Idea Competition for early-stage companies, and The Pitch @ Ignite for students.

Entrepreneurial competition that is open exclusively to students enrolled at San Diego State University.


Co-working Spaces:

In addition to offering affordable co-working, Ansir also holds several workshops to teach tech-related skills and may even act as an incubator for qualified companies.

Offers different membership plans as well as private meeting rooms and a 6,000 square foot event space that is open to Co-mmunity members. Has additional locations in La Jolla, CA and Istanbul, Turkey.

Hosts events for members and the community as a whole in addition to providing traditional co-working space and services.

Offers a variety of monthly plans at different levels as well as daily rental options for renting conference rooms.

Offers a professional “spa-like environment” and a variety of workshops to help women entrepreneurs succeed.

The Gaslamp location in San Diego, one of Level Office’s many locations around the country, comes with an espresso bar, a fully-stocked fridge, and local beer on tap.

An inclusive workspace with different tiers of membership and some table games with which to blow off steam.

Has over 20 “hot desks” and several private office spaces, and offers a free 7 Day Pass for new members.

Offers several levels of memberships and access to meeting rooms as well as 3D printing and die cutting.

Has 3 pricing plans to meet specific needs of entrepreneurs and workers and offers 24/7 access to members.

Offers open working space and private office space that can be shared by up to 3 people, ideal for teams early in the startup process.

The San Diego location of WeWork’s network of co-working spaces offers 6 floors of working space with offices “for teams of 1 to 280”.


Maker spaces:

A makerspace open to students and faculty members of San Diego State University, located in the SDSU library.

Open to students of UC San Diego, EnVision has several large tools and machines in 2,700 square feet of working space.

An abbreviation for Fabrication Laboratory, the San Diego Fab Lab has a wide array of equipment and offers several classes.

Located in San Diego’s Central Library, the Innovation Lab offers a modest amount of equipment for creators as well as classes and workshops.

Includes a wood shop, metal shop, craft shop, laser lab, electronics lab, and 3D printing. Offers daily facility tours without appointments.

A small-scale makerspace for students of the K-12 school Mt. Everest Academy. Mostly a place for kids to get creative, it also offers a 3D printer for students who have a great design.

Just North of San Diageo, OSML has a variety of equipment available and offers several workshops.



Connects entrepreneurs to mentors as well as access to financing.

One of the leading incubators in Southern California for tech-related startups.

An incubator and launch program for idea- and early-stage stage startups.

Helps high-potential, early-stage companies from around the country in the new technology industries.

An incubator to help students, faculty, and staff at San Diego State University launch and grow a startup.

Incubators & Accelerators: Which Best Fits Your Needs?



Accelerator for privately-held information technology startups in any stage of the business lifecycle.

Helps build innovative data businesses related to artificial intelligence and machine learning.

San Diego branch of a business accelerator for companies in the legal cannabis industry.

A business accelerator for startups in all industries that are started and led by women.

Provides early-stage tech companies in the San Diego area with capital, coaching, networking opportunities, and a place to work.

An accelerator and co-working center for startups in the life science and technology industries in San Diego.

Non-profit accelerator for students and alumni of the University of California San Diego’s Rady School of Management.

Provides resources and services for entrepreneurs who fall into one of three groups: ideas in any industry, lifestyle entrepreneurs, and growth-stage companies.

  Find the Right Accelerator for your Startup with Startup Search Tools!



At CCSD, students can earn an MBA degree with an entrepreneurial emphasis.

UC San Diego has several ways to help student entrepreneurs, including the Institute for the Global Entrepreneur, a partnership between the schools of engineering and management.

Through the Lavin Center, San Diego State University offers a number of entrepreneurship courses and minors, as well as an entrepreneurship specialization in the management major.

Offers several entrepreneurial-related Certificates of Achievements as well as an associate’s degree.

Hosts several entrepreneurial events for students and offers an entrepreneurship minor.


Angel Groups/VCs:

Focuses on investing in seed- and early-stage companies in the life science and information technology sectors.

Uses analytics and predictive models to determine the best startups to become a co-investor in.

San Diego is home to the Western headquarters of Domain, a venture capital firm that invests in the life science and healthcare industries.

Invests in private companies at any stage in the agriculture technology industry.

Founded in 1990, Forward Ventures invests in life sciences and biopharmaceutical startups at any stage.

Provides growth capital to lower-middle market companies based in the Western United States.

With locations in Baltimore, MD and San Diego, JMI Equity looks to invest in and grow software companies.

Founded in San Francisco but with a branch in San Diego, Keiretsu Forum members provide capital in early-stage companies.

Provides money, mentorship, and networking opportunities to great early-stage startups.

Invests in software companies and software-enabled service firms generating $2.5 million or more per year.

A Glimpse Into Thinking Like an Angel Investor


Entrepreneurial Newsletter Coverage:

San Diego is home to a branch of the Entrepreneur’s Organization, which offers a newsletter to keep people updated.

Environmental Entrepreneurs is a group dedicated to improving both the environment and economy. Their quarterly newsletters offer updates on their chapters, one of which is in San Diego.

Monthly updates on career opportunities and events at San Diego State University’s Lavin Entrepreneurship Center.

SDBJ sends a daily news update as well as the option to receive weekly real estate and technology newsletters.

News and coverage from StartupSD, the same organization that organizes San Diego Startup Week.


Are you familiar with entrepreneurial ecosystem infrastructure in San Diego not included in the article above?  If so, let us know via a comment below, and we will add it to the article. 

Interested in Ecosystem Spotlights of other cities in the USA?

Tampa, FloridaGreensboro, North CarolinaAustin, Texas

Article by Quinn Pilkey

Quinn Pilkey

Quinn is a journalism major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He also serves as a freelance author for Hashtag Basketball where he writes about the NBA's Charlotte Hornets and at FundingSage where he researches and writes about entrepreneurial ecosystems.