Skip to Content
The Big Picture San Diego Blog


World Trade Center San Diego

July 31, 2017

Today, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and World Trade Center San Diego (WTC San Diego), JPMorgan Chase & Co. and business and civic leaders unveiled the 15 companies selected to participate in the MetroConnect program, a comprehensive export assistance program to help local companies accelerate their global growth.

From language translation software platform Urban Translations, to cleantech company Envision Solar, to veteran-owned brewer Julian Hard Cider, the 2017 MetroConnect companies represent a diverse cross-section of San Diego’s innovation economy.

 

Now in its third year, the MetroConnect program equips small- and medium-sized companies (SMEs) with a suite of financial and programmatic resources to support their efforts in bringing their products and services global. Powered by JPMorgan Chase, MetroConnect resources include:

  • $10,000 in matching grants to cover up to 50 percent of the costs associated with international expansion
  • Dedicated WTC San Diego staff manager to support company participants in deploying overseas strategies during the grant period
  • Access to workshops that address export compliance, financing and fundraising and more
  • Reduced airfare on the Japan Airlines direct flight from San Diego to Tokyo, and on Air Canada direct flights from San Diego to Canada
  • Free access to SYSTRAN software for website translation and customer service needs
  • Consideration to compete for an additional $35,000 during the MetroConnect Grand Prize Pitchfest in May 2018

WTC San Diego is proud to congratulate the 2017 MetroConnect companies:

1. Coronado Brewing Co.
2. CP Global Manufacturing
3. CureMatch
4. Del Mar Oceanographic
5. Dermala
6. Envision Solar International
7. FoxFury
8. Guru
9. Julian Hard Cider
10. Optimized Fuel Technologies
11. Performa Learning
12. Planck Aerosystems
13. Tioga Research
14. Tunnel Vision
15. Urban Translations

Get the details on this year's cohort here.

Since the program’s debut in 2015, the 30 companies that have gone through the MetroConnect program have collectively generated $10.5 million in new export sales, signed more than 70 new contracts, added 50 new jobs to the region, set up nine new overseas facilities and seen three successful company exits. Past participants include Calbiotech (now ERBA Diagnostics), Rough Draft Brewing, Deering Banjo Company, Cypher Genomics (now Human Longevity Inc.), ROBO 3D and more.

In 2015 alone, San Diego exported more than $17 billion in goods overseas, as well as billions more in services like software, cybersecurity, engineering and research. SMEs produce 92 percent of those goods – driving home the point of programs like MetroConnect. According to the Brookings Institution, companies that are global pay higher wages, are less likely to go out of business and increase productivity of the domestic market.

As part of his commitment to expanding San Diego’s global reach, Mayor Faulconer has led trade missions to Mexico City and Vancouver this year, and will lead a delegation to London and Cambridge this fall.

 

July 1, 2017

A year ago, members of the Global Competitiveness Council – the voice of the global business community in San Diego – made a request to Mayor Faulconer: to travel internationally with World Trade Center San Diego.

And he said yes. So we decided to start our global engagement by expanding our North American relationships and traveling to Vancouver--an international city that is quicker to fly to than it is to drive to LA. And with so many similarities to San Diego, we wound up squeezing nine meetings and events into just under a day and a half.

Economically speaking, Vancouver is seen as one of the greenest cities in the world. With the Mayor's climate action plan and the ongoing development of our cleantech industry, San Diego is fast being recognized as another one of North America’s greenest cities.

Some of the highlights from the trip include:

  • San Diego-based Cubic Transportation Systems, in partnership with TransLink, Metro Vancouver’s transportation network, announced there were more than 2 million compass cards in circulation
  • Phoenix Molecular Design, a life sciences company based in Vancouver, is actively expanding its business to San Diego and plans to grow to 15 employees within two years
  • UC San Diego and University of British Columbia (UBC)  formulized  the HIBAR initiative, designed to connect their faculty to their communities to tackle problems around sustainability and climate change
  • San Diego State University became the only California university accepted into the International Sustainability Campus Network, joining UBC and other top tier universities around the globe
  • SDG&E and BC Hydro, British Columbia’s energy utility, participated in a clean energy forum
  • Planck Aerospace, a San Diego-based drone startup, was able to pitch its technology to the Port of Vancouver
  • A smart cities forum led by Qualcomm and Wavefront, the Canadian center for mobile and IoT technology, and other telecommunications/Iot companies

 

And we made it back to San Diego just in time to celebrate Canada’s 150 birthday. 

World, get ready. San Diego is coming for you. 

Learn more about the trade mission by checking out #SDinVancouver

 

June 26, 2017
The 2017 BIO International Convention, the world’s leading biotechnology conference, came to San Diego in June and brought with it more than 16,100 attendees from 74 countries. While here, many of these delegations – comprised of venture capitalists, foreign dignitaries, private companies and others – send hundreds of meeting and/or tour requests to local businesses and organizations.
 
WTC San Diego, in partnership with Biocom, launched discoversdbio.com in order to streamline such requests. In this pilot year, the website handled requests from 32 delegations, representing 388 people. More than 75 percent of these delegations consisted of companies seeking partnership opportunities with locals such as JLABS, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Renova Therapeutics and more. 
 
Foreign direct investment (FDI) is an integral part of San Diego’s life sciences cluster. In Q1 2017 alone, San Diego’s life sciences cluster received more than $1.7 billion in FDI – more than 75 percent of the region’s total FDI during that quarter. Strategically implementing tools such as this website helps local companies vet future opportunities. 
 
Moving forward, partner organizations can leverage the website to connect visiting delegations with local businesses and institutions.
June 26, 2017

This op-ed was originally published by San Diego Union-Tribune, and authored by Matt Cole, Magda Marquet and Michelle Sterling.
 
This is a time of profound disruption in the global economic system: The rules of global commerce are shifting rapidly, the pace of innovation and competition is generating winners and losers, and political volatility around the world is creating an uncertain environment for businesses large and small.
 
Now, more than ever, it is time for cities to step up and lead. And to lead, they must be seen.
 
For San Diego companies, global connectivity matters. Whether it’s biotech or manufacturing, most businesses have customers outside of San Diego, which allows them to add jobs here at home. In 2015, San Diego exported more than $17 billion in goods overseas, as well as billions more in services like software, cybersecurity, engineering and research. Small- and medium-sized businesses produce 92 percent of those goods. According to the Brookings Institution, companies that are global pay higher wages, are less likely to go out of business and increase productivity of the domestic market.
 
Our competitive advantage here in San Diego is that we develop and produce life-saving and life-changing technologies better than almost anywhere else in the world.
 
Four years ago, Althea was a midsize life sciences company with great talent and a compelling business proposition. A personal relationship, and chance meeting at a trade show, began a relationship with Japanese multinational Ajinomoto that has drawn millions of dollars of investment into the region, and enabled Althea to become a global player in the development and manufacturing of biologics and innovative pharmaceuticals.
 
For Cubic Transportation Systems (CTS), a business unit of Cubic Corp., providing public transportation solutions is one example of where public-private partnerships can be applied. From Chicago to Sydney, Vancouver and London, Cubic-powered technology and services move 38 million people seamlessly on a daily basis. This form of service requires collaborative working relationships between metro governments, transportation authorities and the private sector. And more often than not, these relationships need to be built over time by political and civic leadership to be effective.
 
Most San Diegans know the name Qualcomm but are less familiar with the transformative impact that the company has had in the world through its innovation in wireless technologies that power the global economy. What started in 1985 as a startup co-founded by a UC San Diego professor has grown into a company that has invented the technologies that make smartphones indispensable in our lives. With each technology Qualcomm invents and with each employee it hires, people from Brazil to China are learning how San Diego is changing the world.
 
The 600 largest cities in the world account for 60 percent of the global economy, and that economy is increasingly crowded, confusing and contested. Metros need strong leadership, unified voices and targeted strategies to compete. This is why mayors around the world are uniting to take on big issues like climate change, trade and poverty. It is why the mayors of every major U.S. city are on the road like never before, opening doors for the expansion of their regional economies. It is why we, as the Global Competitiveness Council — the voice of the global business community here in the San Diego region — called on Mayor Kevin Faulconer to be on the road to help out.
 
The mayor responded to this call by the business community, and is traveling to Mexico City, Vancouver and London in 2017 to create civic and academic partnerships, to facilitate deals that create jobs for San Diegans, and, most importantly, to create a framework for engagement with our most important markets. Our hope is that companies of all sizes seize the opportunities the mayor is creating.
 
We know what an innovative, collaborative and life-changing place San Diego is; but now more than ever, we need our leadership telling that story here at home and around the world. Our economy depends on it.
 
Cole is president of Cubic Transportation Systems. Marquet is co-founder of Ajinomoto Althea and AltheaDX. Sterling is executive vice president of human resources at Qualcomm.
 
Mayors of every major U.S. city are on the road like never before, opening doors for the expansion of their regional economies.
June 16, 2017
In just the first half of 2017, the region has seen the official launch of two direct flights, of which WTC San Diego and EDC have assisted the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority in attracting: Condor Airlines’ direct service to Frankfurt, Germany and Edelweiss’ direct service to Zurich, Switzerland. 
 
This week, Edelweiss launched its inaugural flight. WTC and EDC assisted in hosting a private luncheon earlier this year with Swiss-owned and San Diego-based companies seeking business opportunities in Switzerland. Switzerland is an important market for San Diego, especially for the life sciences industry, with more than $1.6 billion in investment from Switzerland. 
 
June 5, 2017

San Diego knows how to build companies that the rest of the world values. Case in point: Last month, El-Cajon based Calbiotech, a diagnostics company, was acquired by ERBA Mannheim, a medical device manufacturer based in Mannheim, Germany.

In 2016, Calbiotech was part of MetroConnect, World Trade Center San Diego’s flagship export assistance program. As part of the 2016 cohort, Calbiotech received financial and programmatic resources to support their plans to expand internationally.

Calbiotech has a global footprint of more than 200 products, which are distributed to 60 countries worldwide. With the expansion announcement, Calbiotech will maintain its footprint in San Diego because of the access to key reference labs and other biotech customers throughout the region. It will also serve as ERBA’s hub and gateway to the Latin American market.

The company was referred to the MetroConnect program by Jo Marie Diamond, head of the San Diego East County Economic Development Council. “I’ve been working with Calbiotech for years,” said Diamond, “They are representative of everything positive about the San Diego economy – a focus on innovative products, a strong sense of commitment to the community, and an incredibly grounded and highly diverse team.

We’re excited to hear of Calbiotech’s next step and were very impressed with the company during their time in MetroConnect”, said Lauren Lindner, director of World Trade Center San Diego who oversees the MetroConnect Program. “Their team was incredibly savvy in their rollout to international markets, and we’re not surprised to see that a leader like ERBA took notice.”

San Diego, and specifically East County, have been an integral part of the Calbiotech success story,” said David Barka, Vice President. “San Diego is home to companies that are leading the world in innovation in science and medicine. Being in San Diego gave us access to an amazing talent pool that really helped our company grow.”

The acquisition will help Calbiotech increase access to markets across Europe and Asia add to EBRA’s extensive and far-ranging product portfolio.

M&A is an important growth strategy and capital source for San Diego companies. According to a 2016 EDC study, nearly 70 percent of San Diego’s capital in 2015 came through M&A.

Calbiotech’s acquisition mirrors the region’s strengthening ties with Germany, including the announcement of Condor’s new direct flight to Frankfurt, Germany, which began operation on Monday, May 1.

Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Applications for the MetroConnect 2017 round are now open. To apply, click here.

May 11, 2017
This week, World Trade Center San Diego and UC San Diego’s School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS) welcomed Alan Beebe, President of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, for the third and final Global Forum program of the year. The event was held in the Harbor View room at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse.
 
The presentation focused on the findings of the 2017 China Business Climate Survey Report, released by the American Chamber of Commerce. Alan Beebe provided insight on the obstacles American companies face in China today, and how these obstacles are leading to adjustments in strategy for the future. Following the presentation, Mr. Beebe was joined by Dr. Karl Gerth, Chinese Studies program director at UC San Diego for a moderated Q&A session.
 
Sponsored by Bank of America, the Global Forum initiative offers GPS’s high-profile, visiting scholars a chance to address the region’s local business community.
 
March 29, 2017

In preparation for BIO 2017, Biocom and World Trade Center San Diego developed a digital platform to help facilitate meetings between inbound delegations and local organizations. The website collects key data points such as size of delegation, country of origin, industry of interest, plans for future investment and more. The tool connects delegations to the appropriate representatives and provides companies and institutions a resource to vet inbound delegations and more efficiently allocate their time. Check it out at discoversdbiz.com.

March 27, 2017

World Trade Center San Diego and UC San Diego's School of Global Policy and Strategy (GPS) jointly launched its 2017 Global Forum programming in February. The initiative, sponsored by Bank of America, offers GPS's high-profile, visiting scholars a chance to address the region's local business community. The first Global Forum program of 2017 featured the Former Minister of Foreign Affairs in Japan, the Honorable Yoriko Kawaguchi. Topics included the future of the U.S.-Japan relationship in a post-Trans Pacific Partnership world, the diplomatic relationship between the two countries and more.

See more from GPS.

February 16, 2017

Content pulled from a piece in the San Diego Business JournalVAVi Faced Its Own Obstacle Course
 
EDC investor and recreational sporting events organizer VAVi Sport & Social Club was looking to make a big splash at its first major international competition: a 20,000-person obstacle course and race in Sydney, Australia. Little did VAVi know its shipment of inflatable obstacles would present its own set of obstacles.  
 
The company loaded its $1 million worth of goods into shipping containers, set to arrive a month before the event. Complications arose in South Korea when VAVi’s equipment was unloaded and seemingly forgotten about on storage docks. This is when EDC came in… 
 
Having been a part of the 2015 global export assistance program MetroConnect, VAVi CEO Steve Stoloff called on EDC and the organization’s World Trade Center team to leverage its international network for support. EDC staff contacted the U.S. Commercial Service – the trade promotion arm of the U.S. Department of Commerce – to ensure the forgotten equipment would be loaded onto another boat bound for Australia. Staff also reached out to contacts in Sydney to coordinate on-the-ground transportation from Brisbane to Sydney, since this new boat would no longer be porting in Sydney. 
 
And it didn’t stop there. EDC’s board of directors stepped up to the challenge. Helping recover some of the money lost in the fuss, Linde Hotchkiss, managing partner at the global risk advisory and insurance solutions firm Willis Towers Watson, counseled VAVi on the qualms of international shipping and helped facilitate an insurance claim.
 
With all hands on deck, VAVi received its shipment and salvaged the prominent event – saving one-fifth of the company’s yearly projected sales. This is not simply a company story of overcoming obstacles in going global, but of the collaborative nature of San Diego’s business community. This is who San Diego is.