San Diego Business Journal

Irwin Jacobs Stresses Business Need for Strong Educational, Cultural Climates

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Qualcomm Inc. co-founder Irwin Jacobs spoke out in support of a push by local biotech company CEO Philip Low to get mayoral candidates to present proposals for improving San Diego’s entrepreneurial climate.

“San Diego has been a very good location for building business, in the sense that it’s relatively easy to attract very high quality people to live here,” Jacobs said. “But clearly we’ve declined a bit on maintenance and infrastructure. These are aspects that need to be addressed carefully.”

Low, the young founder of successful La Jolla startup NeuroVigil Inc., has launched an online “Enterprise Petition” that asks San Diego residents to vote for the mayoral candidate that does the best job of presenting “a clear plan to stimulate new businesses.” The petition has more than 200 signatures, he said.

Low takes issue with the fact that despite San Diego’s wealth, there isn’t easy access here to early-stage venture capital. He’d also like to see the City of San Diego adopt a plan for recruiting and retaining new companies, as the City of Boston has done with its “Boston Business Hub.”

Jacobs, a mentor of Low’s, said that improving K-12 education is also a key area that the mayoral candidates need to tackle. It might not seem to be an economic issue at the surface, but it is, he said.

“When you’re trying to attract employees to move here, one of the issues that come up is educating their children,” Jacobs said. “You’re trying to attract highly educated people. Education, the cultural climate — all of these things play a role when employees are deciding where to live.”

In the end quality education will lead to job creation by luring top companies here, Jacobs said.

So far, only one of the four candidates for mayor, Bonnie Dumanis, has addressed Low’s petition and said she’s committed to making San Diego a thriving “startup” city.

The mayoral primary is June 5.

— Kelly Quigley