Skip to Content
The Big Picture San Diego Blog


Big Picture San Diego Blog

September 28, 2016
In the midst of one of the most interesting presidential elections in many of our lifetimes, the importance of maintaining close ties with the decision makers in Washington DC becomes increasingly important – most especially for our military community. That is in part why, for the last several years, EDC and the San Diego Military Advisory Council have attended the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce's annual trip to DC in order to lead the military and defense track. 
 
This year, with the support of Chamber staff and SDMAC Executive Director Randy Bogle, EDC discussed national security implications of TPP with thought leaders from the Trumann Foundation, ways our healthcare institutions and life sciences companies can better partner with the incoming commander of Navy Medicine West, key legislative priorities for 2017 with our congressional delegation and the future possibility of BRAC with experts from Dentons. 
 
This trip gave us the opportunity to not only expand and build relationships with key decision makers, but to give a broader audience from the Chamber a chance to hear about the leading issues impacting the region’s military.  
 
When the dust settles come November 9, whether Trump or Hillary is our next Commander in Chief, EDC – alongside regional peers – will continue to ensure that San Diego’s interests are well understood and represented in at our nation's capital.  
 
September 27, 2016

This week we sat down with Ken Behan, vice president of sales and marketing at SYSTRAN Group. With operations in San Diego and as a program sponsor of WTC San Diego's MetroConnect Program, the language technology company is helping local SMEs connect with international markets - driving economic and innovative growth for the region.

1) Please tell us what your company/organization does. 

With 48 years in the language technology industry, SYSTRAN Software has been in business long enough to witness sweeping changes in the way people communicate globally. Over recent years, large amounts of data have become more accessible to anyone with an Internet connection, enabling businesses of all sizes to better compete on the world stage. Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are now able to branch into global markets that were previously reserved only for large corporations due to more affordable technology tools. However, SMEs are often slowed down by their inability to understand their customers in other countries or benefit from valuable data if it is in a language other than their own.

Through our enterprise software, SYSRAN provides advanced machine-based translation of 130 languages to global companies like Apple, Adobe, Cisco, Toyota and Symantec, among others. Now SMEs can leverage the same enterprise-level language technology with SYSTRAN.io, a new API platform that provides a hosted 50-language translation toolkit with customization capabilities. SYSTRAN.io allows software developers, customer experience (CX) companies, marketing departments, social media and marketing technology companies, and online gaming developers to easily and cost-effectively develop multilingual applications that were once only available to large, international companies. 

2) What are some advantages to being located/doing business in San Diego?

San Diego is a hub for technology innovation and talented software developers who want a lifestyle that only San Diego can provide. As a global language technology software company with offices in San Diego (as well as Seoul and Paris), we leverage our location to attract the best technicians and software developers on the market.

Software contributes billions of dollars to San Diego’s economy, and the region consistently ranks in the top 10 cities for VC funding nationally and globally. With such a strong investment market, both large and small businesses have more opportunities to invent and thrive. We believe San Diego will continue its growth in software development, life sciences, biotech, cleantech, medical devices, and information and communications technologies.

3) San Diego is full of dynamic companies, firms and service providers influencing global trends and innovation. Pick another San Diego company that is at the top of its game.

Semantic Research is a privately held San Diego software firm that is extending its reach into global markets. Its primary software, Semantica, provides a solution for data organization from multiple channels and is constantly evolving.

Semantica iDEA™ is a unique Intelligent Decision Enterprise Analytics platform from Semantic that provides a single, holistic view of all layers of your data regardless of source or format and without the need for a data warehouse or an integration platform. Advanced analytics add a layer of intelligence on top of data to identify patterns of behavior and links among people, things, places and events. Cool stuff!

4) What do you anticipate for your company in five years?

With the growing need for seamless communication across borders and language intelligence technology, we anticipate a steady incline for SYSTRAN’s growth. We are seeing SYSTRAN software being used by Fortune 100 companies and startups alike. SYSTRAN has made a significant investment in its API platform – SYSTRAN.io.  We anticipate that by opening the SYSTRAN language intelligence technology to multi-national companies of all sizes with a cloud-based application, we will see a ground swell of integration between automated language translation and natural language processing in web, mobile and enterprise applications.

SYSTRAN.io is becoming a preferred solution for collaboration bots used on platforms and team messaging apps such as Slack, which offer simplified communication with team members around the world. In today’s need-it-now environments, there's simply no time to click a drop-down box to choose a language or cut and paste. To solve these challenges, SYSTRAN.io is being integrated for real-time translation into collaboration platforms.

SYSTRAN is also seeing wide use among customer support teams to handle real-time translation of complaints, customer feedback or service outages. We see this as a huge market for SYSTRAN’s machine-based translation technology moving forward. E-discovery is another area where automated language technology is greatly needed and we have many law firms and compliance officers using our software daily.

Today, millions of users around the world interface with SYSTRAN multilanguage technology daily. Platform customers include ADP, Adobe and Apple, which integrates a language translation widget on the dashboard of its MacBook. We see opportunities for text and audio language translation software integration growing daily. 

September 26, 2016
This week, Thermo Fisher Scientific, the global life sciences and biotechnology company, cut the ribbon on its Software Center of Excellence (COE) in Tijuana. Thermo Fisher Scientific is a world leader in serving science with $17 billion in revenues and approximately 50,000 employees in 50 countries. The company develops, manufactures and sells a wide variety of innovative biotechnology products including analytical instruments, equipment, reagents and software, and provides services for research, manufacturing, analysis and diagnostics.
 
Thermo Fisher’s expansion into Tijuana is exemplary of the cross-border collaboration between Mexico and San Diego – one of the leading life sciences hubs in the country. To stay current in a climate of rapidly evolving technology, the company made the critical decision to expand its software engineering division. Thermo Fisher was eager to explore the viability of opening software operations in a location with quality talent and in the same time zone as its corporate headquarters in Carlsbad. 

 
With the support of San Diego Regional EDC, UC San Diego and partners from Mexico including the city of Tijuana, state of Baja, Universidad Autónoma de Baja California and Tijuana EDC, Thermo Fisher completed several trips to Tijuana to explore viability. With this strong network of partners, Thermo Fisher made the decision to construct a world-class office facility just minutes from the San Ysidro border crossing and less than an hour drive to its Carlsbad office.
 
Software engineering talent in Latin America, in particular Mexico, has been emerging as a source for many companies such as Thermo Fisher, providing an alternative to hiring employees overseas where distance and time zones prove to be ongoing challenges. While Tijuana is traditionally recognized as a hub for advanced manufacturing, Thermo Fisher’s software COE highlights the availability of local talent in the software sector. The company successfully attracted an extremely skilled group of software personnel from around Mexico, all of whom were excited about the opportunity to be a part of Thermo Fisher’s software center. As of the ribbon cutting, the Thermo Fisher employs around 45 employees, with space to grow its team to 150 within the year. 
 
As a result of expanding operations to Tijuana, Thermo Fisher is realizing accelerated rates of innovation with less financial risk as well as unequivocal improvements in collaboration between its teams in Carlsbad and Tijuana.
 
“...being just one hour apart makes an amazing difference in how the teams are productive together," said Mark Field, CTO of Software Services, Thermo Fisher Scientific
 
September 15, 2016
The City of San Diego has been awarded $1.6 million grant by the Department of Defense to craft programs designed to enhance the resiliency of the region’s defense industrial base. As part of this grant, EDC’s research team will be responsible for conducting a county-wide supply chain mapping and economic impact study in order to arm the region with the foundational data necessary to inform the creation of effective programming. 
 
Why this matters?
The region has long benefited from strong defense companies who employ tens of thousands of San Diegans in a wide variety of industries including satellite communications, ship building, autonomous vehicles, cybersecurity and many more. 
 
We know San Diego is a hub of innovation for globally impactful defense technology, but it can at times be forgotten how these defense companies have evolved their defense expertise to transform commercial markets. Companies like ViaSat and Cubic Corporation – who started by innovating secure satellite communications and creating world-class training technologies – have grown to become major players in satellite internet technology and transportation management. 
 
The OEA grant will enable us to assess and create the tools necessary to help defense companies diversify their innovative technologies and services into commercial markets. 
 
Home to the highest concentration of military in the world, the OEA grant will ensure the City and regional peers continue to think creatively about how we leverage defense innovation to create more jobs and a more resilient economy.  
 
September 15, 2016

Fifteen years after September 11, 2001, we stand united as a country – remembering the travesty, but holding high the men and women who defend our country and freedoms every day.

As part of the blog series leading up to San Diego MFG Day, we’re featuring 5 defense technologies #MadeinSD used to protect our country, and U.S. allies across the world.

  1. Headquartered in San Diego, Cubic Global Defense (CGD) is a leading provider of virtual, constructive and game-based training solutions, special operations, mission support and intelligence for the U.S. and allied forces in more than 35 nations. CGD’s primary focus is to raise human performance by providing an integrated, effective learning assessment experience that drives combat readiness. 
  2. GKN Aerospace, a UK-based manufacturer with large operations in El Cajon, develops high-performance components and assemblies for aerostructures, engine products, landing gear, wiring systems and more. The company provides advanced transparent coatings and vertically integrated supply of aerospace grade acrylic material, and offers a full range of capability for design, analysis, testing and certification of military canopies, cockpit windows and passenger windows. 
  3. Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) is a premier technology integrator in the technical, engineering, intelligence and enterprise information technology markets. With operations in San Diego, the company designs, develops and sustains offerings that empower diplomatic missions, support warfighter requirements and advance exploration from the ocean floor to outer space. Specifically, SAIC develops the Tsunami Buoy, a surface satellite communications buoy with deep-water data measurement sensors and mooring subsystem capable of detecting encroaching tsunamis and more. 
  4. Located in the San Diego bay, General Dynamics NASSCO is the largest full service shipyard on the West Coast. The company specializes in the design and construction of auxiliary and support ships for the U.S. Navy, and oil tankers and dry cargo carriers for commercial markets. NASSCO is currently building the USNS Hershel “Woody” Williams – the Navy’s second Expeditionary Sea Base – named for the last surviving recipient of the Medal of Honor from the Battle of Iwo Jima. The 784-foot-long ship will serve as a flexible platform to support a variety of missions, including air mine countermeasures, counter-piracy operations, maritime security and humanitarian missions.
  5. General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) is a leading manufacturer of Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) systems, radars and electro-optic and related mission systems solutions. Located in Poway, GA-ASI is highly regarded for its development of the Predator aircraft: a long line of RPA systems, beginning with the highly successful "RQ-1" Predator aircraft first flown by the U.S. Air Force in 1995. Predator since has been named by Smithsonian's Air & Space magazine as one of the top ten aircraft that changed the world. The line of aircraft has been acquired by the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, NASA, the Royal Air Force, the Italian Air Force, the French Air Force, the Spanish Air Force and others. 

MFG Day – and the manufacturing companies it spotlights – serves as a testament to San Diego’s impact around the world. Companies here develop products and services that change, save and better the lives of millions of people every day. Join us October 7 to celebrate.

September 15, 2016

This is part of a weekly series featuring a profile on one of the 2016 MetroConnect Program companies. MetroConnect is dedicated to helping local San Diego businesses go global and is presented by JPMorgan Chase.

With a background in manufacturing engineering and nine patents to his name, Laszlo Garamszegi of Aurora Spine treats the development of medical devices as both art and as science.

I’ve been fascinated with designing and building devices in this space for a long time”, states Garamszegi, originally from Hungary. “Through a blend of engineering, raw materials and a sense of aesthetic, it’s possible to make something that will truly improve a life. In fact, many lives.

It’s with this sense of focus and aspiration that Garamszegi co-founded Aurora Spine in 2012, after working at a number of other medical device companies throughout the San Diego region. With spinal fusion technologies necessitating highly invasive procedures and long, painful recovery times, the company saw an opportunity for improvement. Aurora’s technologies aimed to simplify the process and allow for effective spinal fusion that streamlined surgical procedures and contoured to a patient’s unique anatomy.

The company has experienced impressive growth with a full product suite of interspinous fusion devices, biologics and surgical tools. With product currently in fifteen countries around the world, the Aurora team is working hard to expand its presence in other global regions, including South Korea and Australia, among others. Devices are manufactured right here in the U.S. with supply chain operations in California and Ohio. With the company’s core ZIP® product line receiving U.S. patent approval in April of this year, Aurora is well positioned to continue to bring its sleek, futuristic looking product line to the international market.

 

Speaking of aesthetics, what of the brand’s signature royal purple color? Any special significance there?

Laszlo laughs at the question. “Trent (CEO and one of Aurora’s co-founders), attended Carlsbad High School and that was the school’s team color. We have international reach, but that strong tie-in to San Diego won’t be going away any time soon.”

 

The success of small- and medium-sized businesses is critical to the region’s future, and increasing their global reach is crucial to that success. Through the MetroConnect Program, companies such as Aurora Spine are to be awarded a $10,000 grant provided by JPMorgan Chase to assist with their international efforts, as well as additional support services including: a dedicated trade and investment manager at WTC San Diego to support company participants in deploying overseas strategies during the grant period; access to workshops that address export compliance, financing and fundraising and global marketing; reduced airfare on Japan Airlines direct flights from San Diego to Tokyo; free access to SYSTRAN software for website translation and customer service needs; and consideration to compete for an additional $35,000 during the MetroConnect Grand Prize Pitchfest in November 2016.

September 8, 2016

One of the most unique industries in San Diego is Sports & Active Lifestyle, a key driver of the regional economy - impacting more than 32,000 jobs - and a staple in our local culture. As part of our series leading up to San Diego MFG Day on October 7, we’re bringing you five items #MadeinSD used by professional athletes around the world.

  1. SKLZ: Endorsed by USA Soccer star Alex Morgan, Evan Longoria of the New York Yankees and hometown favorite Jason Verrett of the Chargers, SKLZ is a staple in the sports training industry. Founded in 2002 with the invention and success of the Hit-a-Way baseball training product, SKLZ products are used to train the world’s top competitive athletes with lines of performance training products and programs.
  2. FOX: If you’ve ever ridden a mountain bike, motorcycle or other offroad vehicle, chances are FOX supplied the shock absorbers. FOX moved their off-road and military components division to El Cajon in 2012 and continues to be an industry leader in shock absorbers and racing suspension products for snowmobiles, mountain bikes, motorcycles, ATVs, UTVs, off-road cars, trucks and SUVs.
  3. TaylorMade Golf: It’s no surprise the largest golf equipment and apparel company in the world is headquartered right here in Carlsbad, as the region is one of the most active golf hubs in the country. The company sponsors top PGA golfers including Sergio García, Jason Day and Dustin Johnson. For this first time in the TaylorMade history, the company has the #1 and #2 golfers playing TaylorMade equipment.
  4. Rusty Surfboards: In 1969, Rusty Psiendorfer shaped his first surfboard as a high school student in San Diego. Sixteen years later, he found Rusty Surfboards – now a top-tier  surfboard manufacturer based in San Diego. The Rusty “R” logo is internationally recognized in the surf and surf apparel industry.
  5. Sticky Bumps: Going hand-in-hand with Rusty, anyone who owns a surfboard has used Sticky Bumps. As surfing became popular in the early 1940s, surfers began relying on candle wax to keep their feet glued to the board while riding the wave. As the industry-leading surf wax maker, Sticky Bumps makes its products in Vista and is recognized globally as the go-to surf wax. 

 

Celebrate all that's #MadeinSD on October 7. Visit sdmfgday.com to get involved. 

August 30, 2016

EDC investor Innovative Commercial Environments (ICE) is a full service hospitality and office furniture dealership. From design concept to project completion, ICE creates an inspired, ergonomic workplace that allows companies to increase efficiency, creativity and output. In addition to representing more than 300 manufacturers, ICE also fabricates a line of locally made office furniture – supporting local artisans, welders and retired military personnel.

Recently, ICE provided EDC's office with a custom reception desk with walnut “live edge” wood slab accents and laser cut steel signage. We sat down with the company founder & CEO DeLinda Forsythe to discuss ICE's commitment to San Diego.

1)Tell us about Innovative Commercial Environments (ICE).

ICE helps organizations consciously build their corporate culture.  ICE crafts furniture solutions that encourage a company’s staff to connect, solve problems together, grow and ultimately “create magic.”  The open environment encourages team work.  The majority of the workforce today is under 35 and they have a strong affinity towards more simple materials.  They don’t want to work in a space that feels contrived.  They came through a rough recession, they want to work in a space that feels like money was spent wisely.  Our furniture is a fun way to help management build an empowered corporate ecosystem.
 
We've recently expanded from a full service office and hospitality furniture dealership to manufacturing a “brewery inspired” office benching system through ICE WorkShop. 

2) Tell us more about WorkShop and the benefits of innovative office design.

At $1000-$1500 per user, customization can not only be affordable, it can also be designed to complement and enhance the architecture of a space while meeting unique client requirements of height adjustability and flexibility. WorkShop can be designed to reflect your corporate culture, helping attract and retain the best talent at your company.  A talent race is on and we think the authentic design of our WorkiBeam system can provide a competitive advantage.

Join other local manufacturers on Oct. 7 for MFG Day 2016 as we celebrate one of San Diego's most diverse industries.

August 23, 2016

This week EDC sat down with Underground Elephant's CEO Jason Kulpa to discuss the company's recent office opening and expansion in San Diego. Founded in 2008, the 100-person technology company works to advance the online consumer experience in the insurance and financial services sectors. Recently featured in the New York Times piece, "A Beer Garden Lays Down Roots for a Technology Hub," Underground Elephant new innovative office space is driving company success and a collaborative culture.

1) Please tell us what your company does.

Underground Elephant (UE) is a digital marketing and technology company dedicated to advancing the online consumer experience. Starting in the insurance sector, we expanded over the course of 8 years into other financial services including credit cards, bank accounts, mortgages and loans. We have been listed on Inc. 5000’s list of Fastest Growing Private Companies for four consecutive years, seeing 192 percent growth in the past three years. With a team of more than one hundred employees, UE is dedicated to increasing quality interactions between consumers and providers. Recently, we moved our headquarters to the historic Wellman Peck warehouse in East Village. Designed by San Diego’s acclaimed Paul Basile of Basile Studios, the space lends itself to our open and collaborative culture, and is complete with an indoor schoolhouse, five olive trees and an in-house bar.

2) What are some advantages to being located/doing business in San Diego?

When deciding where to move our company, we considered relocating to Denver or tech-central San Francisco. However, the environment that San Diego provides is hard to find anywhere else. Not only is the weather idyllic, but the top-rated local universities make the area a hotbed for talent. The increase in San Diego tech startups has also created a community here that we wanted to be involved with. Our new headquarters in East Village is the ideal spot for us, since it intertwines the richness of San Diego's history with the future of innovation. Moving into the new space has not only changed our environment, but it’s also increased our entire company’s productivity. For instance, our tech team has reduced their deployment cycles by 62 percent since the move. Being located steps away from Petco Park, countless restaurants and cafes, and entertainment is also a great benefit for our unique, millennial-based culture.

3) San Diego is full of dynamic companies, firms and service providers influencing global trends and innovation. Pick another San Diego company that is at the top of its game.

There are many companies throughout San Diego who are at the top of their industries and contributing to the culture of our city. In the hospitality realm, Please & Thank You Liquor Bar sets itself apart from all other catering companies by offering a distinctively unique cocktails-only service. We have had the pleasure of working with them in our new space; they are truly at the forefront of the craft cocktail industry in San Diego, which is a difficult niche to set yourself apart in since it’s already quite saturated.

Additionally, downtown agencies Red Door and Mirum (formerly Digitaria) are influencers as well, adding to the innovative digital tech hub in East Village with unique company cultures and spaces.

4) What do you anticipate for your company in five years? What do you anticipate for San Diego?

Our multi-million dollar investment in our office space in East Village signifies our intention to set down permanent roots. The bet is that our investment will trigger others to do the same; we’d like to change downtown into a buzzing work-epicenter. With the lifestyle that San Diego can provide, we believe the city will continue attracting both companies and talent from across the country.

 

Underground Elephant's newly opened office:


August 22, 2016

Every so often San Diego Regional EDC takes an influential group of civic leaders to a peer city to better understand its economic development best practices and bring ideas back home to replicate. This time, we're headed to Nashville, Tennessee to find out what America’s Finest City learn from the Music City. In preparation for the October trip, EDC recently sent a team down south to scout meetings and spokespeople who can speak to philosophies and best practices that have served Nashville well. Here are just a few topics on the upcoming trip agenda:
 
  • First, it’s clear that Nashville mayoral leadership has consistently focused on education, public safety and economic development over a number of administrations.
  • Second, Nashville has made investments to make the City a premier destination. Nashville has built arenas now home to pro football and pro hockey franchises, constructed a new home for the Country Music Hall of Fame, and opened a new downtown convention center, as well as the Frist Center for Visual Arts - all of which has occurred in the past 20 years. The City is now making a bid for a major league soccer team.   
  • The City is also focused on regionalism – the collaboration between area government bodies for the overall good of the region. The Nashville mayor not only oversees the City but also Davidson County, an area about twice the size with half the population of San Diego County. Streamlining government processes and policies has improved development services and transportation infrastructure planning. 
  • In a timely response to President Obama’s call for honest conversations about race relations in communities across America, Mayor Megan Barry is partnering with Lipscomb University's College of Leadership & Public Service and others to host forums with the community to address race, equity and leadership in the Nashville community.
 
Mayor Barry and an outstanding group of civic leaders have committed to speak to our San Diego delegation next month. Learn more about the trip details and agenda topics here. If interested in participating, contact Raquel Elbachri for more information.