Skip to Content
The Big Picture San Diego Blog

WTC San Diego

March 13, 2018

On Monday, local leaders converged to celebrate a true San Diego success story: Forge Therapeutics. The biotech startup is doubling its local footprint and just became the newest tenant at Alexandria Real Estate’s Torrey Ridge Science Center.

World Trade Center San Diego and EDC first learned of Forge during its trade mission to the U.K. in October 2017. In London, CEO Zak Zimmerman announced a partnership with the U.K. team at Evotec, dubbed the BLACKSMITH platform. The international partnership allows Forge to work around the clock to brings its life-saving science to market.

In the U.S. alone, more than 23,000 die annually due to antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or ‘superbugs.’ Forge Therapeutics is changing that through the creation of a novel class of antibiotics that are targeting gram-negative bacteria, a class of bacteria with ‘bulletproof’ membranes that are resistant to traditional antibacterial interventions. The secret behind the life-saving science lies in metal-dependent enzymes or metalloenzymes. Zimmerman’s team has assumed the role of the blacksmiths of modern medicine; they are using chemistry to target these naturally occurring metals that help combat antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

Forge’s expansion comes at a time when telling the story of innovative, expanding companies is more important than ever.

"The national rhetoric around trade has not made it easy for businesses to create international partnerships, but supporting local companies as they expand overseas leads to economic growth and creates jobs here in San Diego. I hope that success stories, like Forge's and other groundbreaking companies in San Diego, can help change that," added Rep. Scott Peters, who was on site to provide remarks during the ribbon cutting.

San Diego already holds a reputation as a biotech powerhouse, but it’s true competitive edge lies in its ability to engineer and take life-saving treatments to market. San Diego civic leaders remained committed to fostering an environment where companies can continue to succeed.

By expanding its footprint and doubling its workforce, Forge is strengthening our city's reputation as a leader in medical research and innovation. Success stories like this demonstrate how important it is that we are creating the kind of environment where companies like this can grow and thrive," said San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

(Left photo: Mayor Faulconer receiving Forge-branded pitch fork from CEO Zak Zimmerman.)

But for Zimmerman and Forge, San Diego has been part of its DNA. Nearly three years ago, Zimmerman met UC San Diego professor Seth Cohen with a chance meeting on a soccer field. The initial technology for Forge was based on more than 15 years of leading research Cohen, spearheaded at UC San Diego. Much of the company’s funding and scientific board also has San Diego roots.

"We are extremely proud to be growing our footprint in San Diego. This biotechnology ecosystem consisting of groundbreaking science, educated investors, strategic advisors and local supporters has allowed us to thrive and expand in ways that we couldn't have imagined," Zimmerman said.

During a Fireside chat with San Diego Union-Tribune reporter Bradley Fikes, Zimmerman spoke a bit more about his decision to grow in San Diego. “Yeah, Boston and San Francisco are known for science, but we wanted to be in a place where people wanted to live and we can attract scientists with 10-20 years experience,” said Zimmerman.

Part of Forge’s growth is due to Alexandria Real Estate. Alexandria Investment Partners, the real estate company’s venture arm, backed Forge’s Series A. Now, they are providing Forge with more than 7,000 sq ft of office and lab space. But to Alexandria, it’s about creating an experience that helps companies foster life-saving innovation. “When you have a good feeling about your physical space, it makes you want to work hard,” said Zimmerman, of his new ARE office space.

February 28, 2018

Last Friday, San Diego hosted Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, as a follow up to San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and WTC San Diego's "World's Greenest Cities” trade mission to Vancouver, Canada.

The day began with a public Mayoral Forum on North American Competitiveness and Sustainability, held at the University Club in downtown. Mayor Faulconer and Mayor Robertson were joined by City of Tijuana COO, Bernabe Esquer, in a moderated discussion on cross-border cooperation and city leadership in economic and environmental issues. The event was attended by more than 100 civic and business leaders.

Building on the theme of sustainability, Mayor Robertson was taken on a tour of San Diego-based Measurabl, the company responsible for the world’s fastest growing sustainability software for commercial buildings and facilities. The local startup develops cloud-based software that collects data on energy consumption, creates investment-grade sustainability reports and alerts companies to improvement opportunities for added efficiency. The company visit showcased how San Diego companies play a leading role in developing green technologies that get adopted around the world.

Mayor Robertson left that evening for the C40 Mayors Summit in Mexico City with much report on his visit to life-changing San Diego. At the forefront: San Diego’s working relationship with Tijuana can be a model for border cities like Vancouver in addressing issues that span national boundaries.


February 9, 2018

On January 24, WTC San Diego partnered with the U.S. Department of Commerce to host a roundtable discussion on data protection and privacy regulation.

Beginning in May 2018, virtually all U.S. exporters to Europe will need to be compliant with the new EU General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). Regardless of the company, industry or sales market, there will be new requirements and stiff fines for companies in the case of non-compliance.

At this roundtable, Nasreen Djouini, policy advisor at the U.S. Department of Commerce, discussed important developments in the GDPR and introduced the EU-Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield Framework – a mechanism that provides companies on both sides of the Atlantic a way to comply with data protection requirements when transferring personal data in support of transatlantic commerce.

Djouini also advised on the Cross-Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) System developed by Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). The CBPR is a mechanism that helps to bridge privacy regulation differences by providing a single framework for the exchange of personal information among participating economies in the APEC region.

Hosted by CBRE, the event was attended by more than 30 San Diego business executives from companies either planning to, or currently, conducting business overseas.


January 30, 2018

On the heels of EDC's 2017 U.K. trade mission, San Diego-based Edico Genome and Genomics England announced a new partnership to strengthen the accuracy and consistency of next-generation sequencing (NGS) data analysis in Genomics England’s Rare Disease Pilot. The partnership will support Genomics England in making NGS the standard of care across the U.K.’s National Health Service in 2018.

Specifically, the partnership will focus on the analysis pipeline − improving alignment and variant calling of whole-genome sequencing data. Genomics England selected DRAGEN for its industry leading accuracy and speed, enabling the organization to accelerate analysis of large clinical genomic datasets.

Read more from Edico Genome.

December 18, 2017

DiscoversdBIO: Launched to coordinate foreign delegations

Delegations from around the world travel to San Diego to forge connections with businesses in our innovation economy. However, when they visit, they often meet with the large institutions already ingrained within the international market and are not exposed to San Diego’s small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that encompass a wide range of opportunities. We wanted to level the playing field for SMEs. 
See how in our timeline below:
    WTC organized partners around the community into the Protocol Network in order to maximize the impact that foreign delegations visiting San Diego and, in turn, provide potential investment and partnership opportunities to the region's SMEs.
    When the BIO Convention brought 16k biotech and pharma leaders to town in June 2017, we knew it was an opportunity to put the protocol network into action. WTC San Diego and Biocom piloted the “DiscoversdBIO” web tool, an automated online system to coordinate foreign delegations traveling to San Diego for the convention. 

  • NEXT UP...
    In 2018, WTC San Diego is expanding the “Discoversdbiz” web tool to encompass the broader innovation economy and automate the platform in order to connect foreign delegations to SMEs throughout the region. SMEs.
November 8, 2017

"Why San Diego leaders must forge international economic partnerships" was originally published in the San Diego Union-Tribune, authored by Nikia Clarke.
Did you know that the greatest public transportation systems in the world have a direct and important connection to San Diego? The ticketing systems for London, Chicago, Vancouver and Sydney have all been enhanced and modernized through the technologies of San Diego-based Cubic Transportation Systems. And joining this global lineup will be New York City following a $533 million contract awarded to Cubic on October 25, taking The Big Apple to the next level in modern transit payment.
This is just one of the many remarkable ways San Diego companies are connecting abroad to create jobs and opportunities here at home. World Trade Center San Diego — an affiliate of San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation — in conjunction with Congressman Scott Peters, led a delegation of San Diego companies and organizations to London and Cambridge, U.K. last week to strengthen economic ties with one of our region’s top markets for trade and investment......
Read the full op-ed here.
October 20, 2017

Strengthening ties between San Diego and the U.K., Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) and World Trade Center San Diego led a delegation to London and Cambridge, United Kingdom from October 16 – 19. Check out #SDinUK for the inside scoop.

Rep. Peters and World Trade Center San Diego were joined by more than two dozen San Diego delegates from Cubic Transportation Systems, Qualcomm, San Diego Gas & Electric, Edico Genome, Takeda California, NuVasive, Forge Therapeutics, BioMed Realty, Alexandria Real Estate, Biocom, UC San Diego, San Diego State University and others. 

Over the course of the three-day trade mission, two significant announcements, representing both the smart cities and life sciences space, were made.

San Diego became the first west coast city to enter London’s Business Welcome Programme. As part of the agreement inked between World Trade Center San Diego and London & Partners, London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s official economic development and tourism agency, London-based companies will have access to up to three months of free space at WeWork San Diego, as well as a suite of other services designed to accelerate their ability to grow in San Diego.

Continually, San Diego-based Forge Therapeutics announced the launch of BLACKSMITH, a new platform being developed in partnership with Evotec AG’s U.K. team. With more than 23,000 people dying in the U.S. annually due to resistance to anti-biotic superbugs, Forge’s new platform will aid in bringing lifesaving drugs to the market. The partnership will also enable Forge to create additional jobs in San Diego.

Additionally, Rep. Scott Peters and the delegation met with and spotlighted the following companies and held additional meetings and panels to expand on the following topics:

  • San Diego-based Cubic Transportation Systems (CTS) and its partnership with Transport for London (TfL). During this event, leaders heard from CTS’ president Matt Cole and TfL’s CTO Shashi Verma on how the collaboration moves millions of people across London daily.
  • An MOU signing between Biocom and OneNucleus, both trade organizations that represent the life sciences sector in their respective locations, to strengthen partnerships.
  • A conversation about leveraging electric vehicle technology as a key platform for smart cities in the U.K. with Qualcomm and SDG&E. During the panel, it was announced that Chargemaster, a licensee of Qualcomm’s wireless electric vehicle charging technology, has just opened the world’s first EV Experience Centre in Milton Keynes in the U.K. and is looking to expand elsewhere around the world.
  • A partnership agreement in Cambridge for a ground-up development project by San Diego-based BioMed Realty, comprising 100,000 square feet of laboratory and office space for growing life sciences companies. The partnership launch was attended by newly-elected Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mayor James Palmer.
  • A tour and best practices exchange with Knowledge Quarter, a one mile area of London comprised of eight higher education institutions, 22 museums and galleries, 34 libraries and archives, 580 research centers, 3,000 scientists, 13,700 academics, 57,000 staff and 98,500 students. Knowledge Quarter is home to companies including The British Library, Google, The Guardian, University of London and others.
  • San Diego-based Edico Genome and a partnership with U.K.-based Congenica. Simultaneously, Edico Genome, in partnership with Amazon Web Services and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, set a GUINNESS WORLD RECORD title for “Fastest time to analyze 1,000 human genomes.” The award was presented at the American Society of Human Genetics 2017 Annual Meeting in Orlando.

The U.K. is one of San Diego’s most vital trading partners. U.K.-based companies directly support more than 10,000 local jobs and have poured more than $3.9 billion in greenfield investment (2003-2015) into San Diego’s economy. The U.K. is also one of the top 10 largest export markets for San Diego-produced goods and services.

The trade mission was organized by WTC San Diego, with assistance and support provided by the U.K. Department of International Trade.

October 16, 2017

Announced during a World Trade Center San Diego-led trade mission to the U.K., San Diego has officially become the first west coast city to join London’s city-to-city Business Welcome Programme.  The partnership program offers direct services and support required to scale San Diego and London-based companies looking to set up locations and do business in the partner’s metro area. This means that it will be much easier for San Diego companies to do business in London, accelerating company growth, trade and investment within both regions. 

At a time of shifting political ideologies and global uncertainty, trade partnerships help bring down borders,” said Nikia Clarke, executive director of World Trade Center San Diego. “San Diego and London have taken their success into their own hands and partnered on the City-to-City Business Welcome Programme to ensure continued economic progress.

In case you didn’t know, the U.K. is a vital trading partner for San Diego:

  • U.K.-based companies directly support more than 10,000 jobs
  • U.K. companies have poured more than $3.9B in greenfield investment (2003-2015) into San Diego’s economy
  • The U.K. is one of the top 10 largest export markets for San Diego-produced goods and services

As part of the official agreement between World Trade Center San Diego (WTC San Diego) and London & Partners, companies will have access to a suite of services. London-based companies looking to open shop in San Diego and vice versa can access reduced co-working spaces, legal consulting and access to a venture capital network and angels, facilitated by WTC San Diego.

  • 1 month of free office space
  • Discounted Oyster card
  • Discounted accommodations
  • 3 months of free space at
    WeWork San Diego
  • Reserved spots in
    CONNECT’s Springboard
    and Capital Match Program
  • Access to discounted attractions


London & Partners, which acts as London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s official promotional agency for both business and tourism, launched the program in March 2017 to build a global network of cities that are collaborating to help businesses transition and grow from one destination to another. With this announcement, San Diego has become the first west coast city to enter the program. Other global cities in the program include Paris, Berlin, Amsterdam, Lisbon and many others pending agreement.

“London and San Diego are two cities that share a strong culture of business and innovation. We see a great opportunity to work with San Diego to establish greater trade and investment links and to help high-flying companies maximise the opportunities on both sides of the pond," said Tony Margiotta, project manager, city-to-city, London & Partners.  "The city-to-city Business Welcome programme is already helping businesses in cities all over the world to build their networks and expand internationally. We look forward to helping more San Diego companies make London their launchpad for growth into Europe and beyond.”

The announcement was made as part of trade mission, led by World Trade Center San Diego and Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52), to London and Cambridge from Oct. 16 -19. More than 20 senior level San Diego executives representing business, academia and government will be in the U.K. spur economic activity by creating new partnerships and opportunities. 

London businesses interested in setting up shop in San Diego can visit here to learn more.

San Diego businesses looking to tap into London’s network can learn more here or contact Jesse Gipe at

September 22, 2017
For the second consecutive year, East County-based guitar manufacturer Taylor Guitars generously played host to WTC San Diego and the 15 companies part of the MetroConnect program for a day-long export compliance workshop.
We kicked off the day with a tour of the company’s manufacturing operations, showcasing the craftsmanship that goes into the creation of every Taylor guitar. Then, the MetroConnect cohort was treated to lunch and an information session about global growth, IP protection and even corruption in the international marketplace. Taylor Guitars CFO Barbara Wight provided first-hand insight about the company’s ever-present struggle with foreign guitar counterfeits and resellers. She described how the company effectively responds to IP infringement, and helped the MetroConnect cohort think through how they might be at risk, and how they might combat such infringement.
Taylor Guitars Director of Finance Bryan Bear then described the company's schema for prioritizing international markets and choosing an entrance strategy.
These workshops are among several support services provide to local SMEs as part the MetroConnect program. 
September 6, 2017

Amid global political gridlock and NAFTA renegotiations, talks on trade are booming more loudly than ever. At the forefront of such conversation is President Trump’s persistent push for U.S.-produced “Made in America” goods. While manufacturing remains a key component of the U.S. trade policy – accounting for 56 percent of total U.S. exports – Brookings’ newly released Export Monitor 2017 suggests a necessary shift in policy strategy. And counter to Trump’s strategy, regions like San Diego – where a growing share of exports are service-related – may reap the benefits.

Nationally, only eight of 35 major industries experienced export growth between 2014 and 2016, led by educational and medical services, management and legal services, commodities, travel and tourism, and the technology sector – noting a particular uptick in international attractiveness of U.S. universities and hospitals. That said, the report indicates that if current trends continue, services will surpass goods as the largest export category in 2020 within the 100 largest metro areas.

Taking a closer look at San Diego, a highly connected innovation economy, the report shows:

  • San Diego ranks as the 15th largest metropolitan region in the U.S. in terms of its GDP and the value of its real exports ($22.9 billion).
  • When comparing export intensity among the top 100 metropolitan regions, San Diego ranks 37th (9.9 percent) – this is up from 50th (10.03 percent) in 2014. 
  • A total of 134,350 jobs were supported by exports; 66,940 of which are direct jobs.

Manufacturing is an important part of San Diego’s economy and that will not change. However, With manufacturing exports on the decline and services exports on the rise, Brookings’ Export Monitor suggests challenges for President Trump’s “Made in America” agenda. The administration’s trade strategy cannot merely be a manufacturing strategy; it must also include promoting and expanding access for services exports. This means addressing barriers like physical presence requirements, local data storage mandates, temporary staff relocation restrictions, cross-border data flow constraints; it means continuing to confront discriminatory practices and offshoring, and technological advancement and workforce development that sustain regional competitiveness.

As an innovation economy, home to a world-renowned life sciences and defense ecosystem, services exports (think: IP) are among top priority in San Diego. And as the third most patent-intensive region in the world, connectivity to foreign markets – especially as it relates to sharing San Diego-made, life-changing technologies and discoveries with the rest of the world – and a balanced trade policy is make or break.

See more in Brookings’ full report, San Diego export scan and press release.