Kevin Faulconer
Fostering Innovation in America
TEDxSanDiego 2014

Hello, everybody. I am Kevin Faulconer, the Mayor of San Diego.

I bet you didn’t expect that. It was a little flashy and you didn’t see it coming. But, unfortunately, that’s the way that most governments feel about innovation and disruptive minds.

Government is very uncomfortable with uncertainty. They don’t know what’s going to happen. They can’t predict what’s going to happen. Instead of fostering innovation, unfortunately, government tends to discourage it. I know that there is a better way.

Welcome to San Diego. Welcome to TEDx. We are a fantastic city. We are a city of beautiful beaches, bays and scenic views. But we are also a city of beautiful minds. We are a smart city. We are a city of intelligence. San Diego is absolutely a city of innovation.

In fact, we’re so smart, we have more PhDs per capita than any city in America. Last year, we had 412 new startups in our workforce. We created 73 new life science companies and over 6,700 patents were granted right here, all in San Diego. Unfortunately, many of you probably don’t know that. Part of the reason is because local government doesn’t do a good job of encouraging innovation.

People just talk about how creative we really are. It’s time for a change. I strongly believe that we’re entering a new era of American ingenuity. Political leaders often talk about clean jobs and green jobs, but it’s time for us to do our part. Government leaders can’t expect 21st Century breakthroughs with a 19th Century mindset. We have to be just as innovative as the people that we represent.

Innovation is like a plant in a garden. It requires water, sunlight and minerals to grow. Innovation is just like that. Innovation requires that we have people supporting it, space to let it grow and let it breathe. We need incentives. I challenge America’s government and civic leaders to join me in allowing innovation to breathe across this country.

Over the last few months in office, I have learned from our clean tech, green tech and bio tech startups that we must be daring and bold, not bland and bureaucratic. We should welcome the chaos of disruptive minds, not block them. We should create opportunities for startups and not just continue with the same old policies that support the status quo.

Today, here at TEDx, you’re going to hear from many disruptive minds and thought leaders who are helping to move San Diego, America and the world forward. These leaders do highlight today’s theme, chain reaction. You all know what a chain reaction is. It’s a series of events triggered by an initial reaction. It means that one disruptive thought can start an idea. That idea will spark innovation. That innovation can change the world. Thank you for coming to San Diego. Thank you for coming to TEDx.