A new economic impact report reveals that the development of the UCSF Mission Bay campus has been a significant catalyst to the San Francisco Bay Area biotechnology industry. San Francisco’s share of Bay Area occupied biotech space has increased from 1.3 percent in 2000 to 6.1 percent in 2009.Photo by Eilleen Jue.

In an age of remarkable scientific and technological advancements, the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) stands as one of the principal economic engines in San Francisco and the nine-county Bay Area. 

UCSF benefits the entire San Francisco Bay Area, generating more than 39,000 jobs and producing an estimated $6.2 billion economic impact when including operations, construction, salaries, and local purchases by employees, students and visitors, according to a new economic impact report.

In the first such report since 2003, when the first building at UCSF’s Mission Bay campus opened, Economic & Planning Systems Inc. of Berkeley has found that UCSF not only has a significant, positive net financial impact – contributing $720,000 to San Francisco’s financial coffers – but also contributes to the city’s health and well-being in numerous ways, both concrete and intangible. 

UCSF is the second-largest employer in the city and the fifth-largest in the Bay Area – it’s a virtual industry of its own – and its labs provide the innovative spark for countless start-ups that fuel the burgeoning biotech economy. 

A $3.3 billion enterprise, UCSF receives more than half – $1.8 billion – from UCSF Medical Center and nearly half from federal grants, mostly from the National Institutes of Health to support its core activities. UCSF receives $225 million or 6.8 percent of its revenues from state appropriations for education. 

With the vitality springing from its new campus at Mission Bay, UCSF is now playing a major role as a $3.3 billion economic driver, from co-leading the birth of the biotech industry to creating more jobs in San Francisco than the city’s financial services sector. In fact, UCSF’s overall economic impact in San Francisco represents 5.6 percent of the city’s total employment.

“UCSF is central to the optimism, energy and innovation that are here in San Francisco,” says UCSF Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH. “We are essential for the economy here.”

Economic Engine

  • $6.2 billion: UCSF’s estimated economic output in the Bay Area, including operations, salaries, construction and student spending
  • $3.3 billion: Annual UCSF budget in fiscal year 2009, including $1.8 billion generated by UCSF Medical Center
  • $4.9 million: Amount of direct revenues UCSF generates for the city of San Francisco’s general fund
  • $720,000: Net financial impact of UCSF operations on the city of San Francisco’s general fund in fiscal year 2009
  • $60 million: Amount UCSF will spend on public improvements and maintenance at Mission Bay
  • $180 million: Average annual construction spending by UCSF, responsible for 1,500 jobs
  • $463 million: Amount UCSF received in fiscal year 2009 from the National Institutes of Health, the most of any public institution
  • $1.5 billion: Amount UCSF will invest to build a new hospital complex at Mission Bay, bringing thousands of jobs to the area

This chart of UCSF’s operating expenses in fiscal year 2009 shows that the University spent $496 million per year on instruction and academic support. In addition, UCSF spent $662 million on research and $1.5 million on the medical center, both of which are important training grounds for the next generation of scientists and health care professionals.

UCSF draws fame for its four Nobel laureates, its groundbreaking life sciences research and its world-class medical care. Its schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy and the UCSF Graduate Division are consistently ranked among the top in the nation. Patients come from all over the region to UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Children’s Hospital, both of which consistently rank among the nation’s top 10 hospitals, according to US News & World Report.

As cash-strapped California looks to trim its state budget, the economic impact report reveals that the state gets a powerful return on its investment in UCSF – which accounted for about 7 percent of the University’s total revenues in fiscal year 2009. The report reveals that UCSF has been the source of about 90 biotech start-ups, 95 percent of all University of California patents, more than $64 million in patent royalties and fees over the past decade, and more than $400 million annually in National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants. 

Chancellor Susan Desmond-Hellman

UCSF’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute was established in 2006 with a $100 million grant from the NIH and a mandate to find a way to speed scientific discoveries from the lab to patients. UCSF is also one of the leading institutional recipients of science-based stimulus funds under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, with 292 awards and $133.2 million in funding as of May 3. 

UCSF Medical Center, which accounts for nearly half, or $1.8 billion, of the University’s budget, pays its own way, and is bringing in millions in philanthropic and federal stimulus dollars to build a new hospital complex at Mission Bay. UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay, expected to open in 2014 to serve children, women and cancer patients, will also create new jobs in construction, health care and other services. And scores of other jobs are created in the area by companies – from pharmaceutical giants to medical supply firms – looking to be near the intellectual hub of UCSF.

“If you invest in UCSF, the return on that investment is great,” says Desmond-Hellmann. “You get well-trained students and faculty. People who have illnesses get to be healthy. And there is also great return on investment for our economy. It doesn’t just make you feel good. It actually has a payback for our community and our state. UCSF is good for business. UCSF is good for the bottom line.”


UCSF is a major economic engine in San Francisco, where it has a $4.7 billion impact and generates more than 30,000 jobs. It is also a major economic force in the Bay Area, where it has a $6.2 billion impact and generates more than 39,000 jobs, including those who provide goods and services to UCSF and those in construction, according to a new economic impact report.