research institutions, and the private sector to aid in the commercialization of research discoveries in and around San Diego. At the time, the region was reeling from economic problems. The imminent end of the Cold War with the Soviet Union was decimating defense contractors, which were major employers in the region. And the savings and loan crisis of the 1980s hit major banks in the region hard.
CONNECT was based on the premise that not nearly enough was being done in the San Diego region to commercialize the excellent research being conducted there. “Nobody in San Diego understood entrepreneurship, venture capital, risk, tech transfer—all the things that have to be done. Until that happens and you educate the community, you’re just going to keep publishing papers,” said Roth.
Duane Roth: “If you give things, you get more back in return. The collaboration culture is what San Diego became known for.”
Spearheaded by leaders at the companies Qualcomm and Hybritech, the University of California, San Diego, and the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation, CONNECT has had incredible success over the past quarter century, according to Roth. It has helped start 2,000 companies, has generated about $10 billion in follow-on funding, and has played a role in creating about 150,000 jobs in the region. It now has a staff of 20, membership support of about $3.5 million per year, holds about 350 events annually, and coordinates 2,000 volunteers. Currently, an average of one new company is formed daily in San Diego based on a wide array of enabling technologies.
Formula for Success
CONNECT is based on the formula BC/VC/ED/RC/DC/CC, said Roth, for business creation, venture capital, education, recognition and competitions, Washington, DC, policy, and convergence clusters.
The organization’s most important mission is business creation. It does not just arrange for meetings with mentors. Rather, it assigns people and companies an entrepreneur in residence — “a former CEO who is tired of lying on the beach reading a paper and wants to give back.” Approximately 300 entrepreneurs in residence currently are helping companies commercialize their ideas.
CONNECT also connects business creators with venture capitalists and trains them in business practices. Minicourses known as frameworks provide a basic background in accounting, finance, intellectual property, and other subjects that entrepreneurs need to know. “These are the kinds