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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


WTC San Diego

July 9, 2019

Since 2013, the U.S. Department of Commerce hosts its annual SelectUSA Investment Summit, making it the country’s largest trade show for foreign direct investment (FDI). This year, in partnership with the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) International Affairs and Business Development team, WTC San Diego and San Diego Regional EDC staff attended the event to promote California and San Diego.

Garnering more than 2,000 attendees and an impressive slew of speakers, the conference featured keynotes from Secretary Wilbur Ross, Larry Kudlow, and Ivanka Trump, alongside dozens of technical presentations. US Ambassadors from all over the world brought delegations of companies set on expanding into the US from their respective countries to learn about the competitive advantages of each state. At the conference, economic development representatives from nearly all 50 states vie for the attention of these companies by demonstrating why their state is best suited to support international expansion. While some states resort to fun, unique antics like utilizing a Captain America outfit to draw in crowds, the delegates from California drew attention to the immense academic investment and corporate strengths of the fifth largest economy in the world.

In the span of two days, WTC staff met with more than a dozen companies from across the globe – Israel to China and UK to Japan – specifically discussing each country’s interest in San Diego. As states and regions compete to attract foreign investment, increased coordination and collaboration across California is necessary to help combat any negative narratives, and ultimately, highlight the success of the entire state’s economy.

With Bud Colligan as Sr. Advisor for International Affairs and Trade for California, there's been an increased call for California to develop more robust trade and FDI strategy. According to SelectUSA, majority-foreign-owned companies support 769,20 jobs in California, placing the state in a distant first with Texas coming in second by supporting 596,900 jobs.

If you are interested in WTC San Diego’s approach to creating a statewide strategy for foreign direct investment, contact Director of World Trade Center San Diego, Jesse Gipe at jg@sandiegobusiness.org.

July 9, 2019

Now in its fourth year, MetroConnect is World Trade Center San Diego’s flagship export assistance program, underwritten by JPMorgan Chase. Following a competitive application process, 15 to 20 export-ready, small and medium-sized businesses receive a $10,000 challenge grant and programmatic services to aid their international expansion efforts. During the course of one year, participating companies get access to complimentary services and preferred rates from program partners, as well as technical assistance trainings in areas such as data privacy, export compliance, supply chain, IP protection, and more.

For the fourth and final workshop of the program period, WTC partnered with MetroConnect sponsor SYSTRAN and consultant JAS Forwarding to host a two-part workshop focused on language translation and supply chain solutions. The first portion of the workshop titled, “The Language Traps of Going Global,” focused on the importance of selling in the local language and the contemporary software solutions available to small businesses. Ken Behan, vice president of sales and marketing, and Philip Staiger, technical account manager at SYSTRAN demoed SYSTRAN’s pure neural server and took questions from the companies in attendance.

The latter half of the workshop, presented by JAS Forwarding Worldwide, focused on “Freight Forwarding & Supply Chain Solutions.” Matt Halpin, business development manager at JAS Forwarding, and Tyler Sullivan, senior national account director at JAS Government & Defense, provided a synopsis of the logistics behind exporting/importing goods to and from the San Diego region.

The 2019 MetroConnect Grand Prize Pitchfest will take place on November 13, 2019 at The Alexandria. The top four performing companies from this year’s cohort will compete for an additional $35,000 in funding to accelerate their international expansion efforts.

 

June 28, 2019

MetroConnect company Telaeris is a privately-owned San Diego company that develops RFIDs (Radio Frequency Identification) and contactless smartcards for businesses. RFIDs and its related products are important contemporary solutions for the efficient management of inventory and assets. RFIDs are also important in tracking the flow of people, as it is one of the basic technologies that make a security badge function.

In September of 2018, Telaeris was selected to be one of 20 participating companies in World Trade Center (WTC) San Diego’s MetroConnect export assistance program. The company received a $10K grant, courtesy of JPMorgan Chase, as well as programmatic support in order to access international markets and boost export sales. Programmatic support included educational workshops, marketing and PR support, and access to preferred rates and discounts with airline and industry partners.

At the beginning of the 2018 program, WTC’s team connected Telaeris to MetroConnect sponsor SYSTRAN, to provide complimentary translation services for the nearly 100,000 lines of code the company needed modified.  Once the company had taken the SYSTRAN software as far as it could go, Telaeris used its $10k in grant funds to pay for expert human translators in Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, and more, to polish the code to ready it for market.

In April, the company attended a trade mission to the South of France with the Port of San Diego and WTC San Diego. There, the company was able to market its localized product to French electronic tracking company Coppernic. As a result, Telaeris was able to ink a deal and have eight Coppernic employees (six in Europe; two in Africa) trained to sell Telaeris’ enterprise technology, thereby expanding its sales capability to regions where it had never had a presence before. Additionally, this relationship has led to two potential deals (currently in the works) worth $25K each.

“The MetroConnect program, presented by JPMorgan Chase, has been an amazing catalyst to super-charge the way our company approaches international business development. Our company has been around for 14 years, but with the tools and resources provided through MetroConnect, we are now on track to target many large markets that make up the majority of the world that does not speak English. Capitalizing on these opportunities makes us a more resilient and prosperous company back home.”

– David Carta, CEO & President at Telaeris

 

April 10, 2019

World Trade Center (WTC) San Diego's flagship export assistance program, MetroConnect, helps local companies in the region with their efforts in accessing international markets and executing sales overseas. For the 2019 program, twenty companies are selected to participate, including five defense companies who received exclusive access to a consultant that advised on regulatory compliance issues in addition to the services available for supporting international expansion plans.

During Q1 2019, WTC, LRAD Corporation and JAS Forwarding were able to sit down and discuss specific ways to potentially update LRAD's internal and export compliance procedures for its long-range acoustic devices. To assist in furthering its global footprint, WTC was able to leverage the organization's extensive global network and put LRAD in touch with data privacy experts in the European Union.

Additionally, LRAD identified South and Central America as target areas for potential sales growth, and the WTCSD team connected the company with a vetted list of port operators in Latin America and the Caribbean. These relationships stemmed from a delegation held in fall 2018, in partnership with Port of San Diego and World Trade Center, DC. 

 

April 10, 2019

World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD) works to connect San Diego to global resources. Before a company sets up a location in San Diego, it needs customers. That's where WTCSD comes in.

 

Recognizing San Diego's role as a cleantech’s hub and the region's forward-thinking adoption of green policies, in January, a Japanese-maker of alternative paper and plastic products reached out to World Trade Center San Diego. Not only was the firm interested in potential customers that might need its product, but they were also looking to cultivate relationships with local manufacturers.

Through WTCSD's MetroConnect participants and other regional partners, WTCSD was able to compile a list of potential leads and provided curated introductions to hoteliers and retailers in San Diego with a track record of progressive climate action. On the manufacturing end, EDC also was able to connect the company with contract manufacturers in the San Diego region, which lays the foundation for the Japanese-based company to make a future investment in San Diego.

 

April 1, 2019
 
On March 7, WTC San Diego in partnership with Tendy LLC hosted a roundtable event which facilitated proactive conversations between business executives from San Diego’s innovation economy and representatives from the Consulates General of Ethiopia, South Africa, and Zambia. Discussions centered around opportunities and innovations within the healthcare, energy, infrastructure, mobility, and tourism sectors, as well as ways in which each region could grow and improve upon their economic development strategies. This event, a first of its kind here in SD, is a follow-up to a similar event organized by Tendy LLC in New York City, during UN General Assembly Week, with the goal of demystifying what it means to do business in various African countries, educating businesses and organizations on the opportunities present and growing in these nations, and facilitating a venue through which partnerships and deal flow can be established. Takeda Research, the premiere biotech-like research center for the Japan-based pharmaceutical company, hosted this event which drew attendees from local companies and organizations such as Cleantech San Diego, the City of San Diego, UC San Diego, Kaiser Permanente, FoxFury Lighting Solutions, PKL Services, IPS Group Inc, and Viasat.
 
In the healthcare and medical roundtable Zambia’s Honorary Consul, Robert Sichinga, noted that countries are seeking committed, long-term international partnerships. In the past, large companies have come in, conducted their study, helped a limited number of individuals from the hosting country, and departed. The hope is that in the future, these companies look for more long-lasting, sustainable, relationships to truly increase the availability and efficiency of modern medicine on the continent, while also allowing for knowledge transfer, training, and education of local populations, as well as potential job increases. 
 
According to the Ethiopian investment agency, foreign direct investment is booming in the East African country. This is primarily a result of its increased focus on manufacturing and agriculture. As trade frameworks such as AGOA emerge and receive resounding support from African nations, countries are realizing a renewed energy and focus on inter-African trade as well as increasing their partnerships with other trading blocks to boost investments in agriculture, agri-processing, transportation infrastructure, and renewable energy.
 
Like anywhere else, life in Africa is not without challenges. In 2014, the World Bank estimated that nearly 600 million people were without electricity. Access to clean water and medical care also remains an issue. However, with challenges come great opportunities for innovation, change, and collaboration. The CEO of FoxFury Lighting Solutions, Mario Cugini, provided the delegates with a demonstration of how products such as its scene lights—high intensity, highly functioning LED lights which could greatly aid hospitals and operating rooms and other critical infrastructure whose efficacy is reduced by unreliable power supplies. The potential for such lighting applications is endless in sectors such as wildlife management, first responder/emergency operations, healthcare, infrastructure and construction. IPS Group, the leader in smart meter technology and implementation, was also on hand for a joint conversation with Viasat around how investments in solar energy, wireless infrastructure, and banking solutions are all imperative to taking their technology abroad.
 
For more information on how you can tap into business opportunities within the African continent, please contact Lucas Coleman at the World Trade Center San Diego. 
 
The image above is from the roundtable. Pictured Back L to R: John Reeves (Viasat), Robert Sichinga (HonConZambia), Oscar Adley (PKL), Berthran Ugeh (Tendy LLC), Cem Hacioglu (West African LNG Group), David Pasquini (UK Gov’t Office SD), Erik Caldwell (City of San Diego), Blake Erickson (unaffiliated); Middle: Hilda Mwangi (WTC San Diego at time of picture), Brian Webber (IPS Group Inc), Kimberly Robling (PKL Services), Valerie Achieng (UCSD MBA Student), Mario Cugini (FoxFury); Bottom: Shakira Motan (South African Consulate Chicago), Betelehem Abera Haile (Ethiopian Consulate Los Angeles), Muktar Mohammed Ware (Ethiopian Consulate Los Angeles), Patience Onyegbule (Kaiser), Runa Tarannum (self employed consultant)
 
 
 
February 28, 2019

This week, WTC San Diego teamed up with Elaine Harwell, senior counsel at Procopio, to host a roundtable on a topic that has generated much confusion, interest, and anxiety over the past year – data privacy.

In May 2018, the European Union’s first-of-its-kind data privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), went into effect. With limited case law to aid in its interpretation, companies and regulators alike have since scrambled to ensure compliance and avoid penalties such as the $57 million fine levied on Google by France’s top data privacy agency.

The GDPR also propelled data privacy laws in other parts of the world. Last June, Governor Brown signed the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) of 2018, cementing into state law many of the general tenets from Europe’s GDPR. These include the right to know what personal information is being collected and with whom it is being shared, as well as the right to have personal information deleted from company databases. GDPR and CCPA share the objectives of increasing transparency, broadening existing definitions of data processing, and encouraging business behavior that prioritizes data security. At least 24 states in the U.S. now have laws that address the data security practices of private sector entities. This is a new reality, and for companies of any size, developing and maintaining a data privacy framework needs to be a priority.

For updates on upcoming workshops and events, you can subscribe to WTC San Diego’s newsletters or follow us on Twitter. If you are a company looking to grow your exports and international presence, also check out WTC San Diego’s flagship export assistance program – MetroConnect

December 12, 2018

Together in 2018

EDC put San Diego on the global stage; made the case for inclusion as an economic imperative; and helped catalyze company growth here and abroad. Watch our full story below.

With and through EDC's investors and partners, we will continue to build a thriving and inclusive San Diego. Here's to another year, in it together.

November 13, 2018

During World Trade Center San Diego’s Trade Mission to Tokyo and Yokohoma, Japan,  Scientist.com, the world's leading marketplace for outsourced scientific services, announced it will expand to Japan, opening an office in Tokyo.

“Scientist.com has recently created enterprise marketplaces for several Japanese pharmaceutical companies,” stated Dan Kagan, PhD, Scientist.com’s Chief Operating Officer. “WTC San Diego’s trade mission will help Scientist.com continue its rapid expansion into the Asian-Pacific region.”
 
The San Diego-based ecommerce marketplace will open an office at the Nihonbashi Life Sciences building, where UC San Diego and other major life sciences companies also house international offices. Scientist.com has recently seen growth in its Japanese clientele; it currently operates marketplaces for several large Japanese pharmaceutical companies.
 
Japan is the third largest economy in the world and a hub for scientific research and exploration. It is also a top-five export market for San Diego goods and services.
 
Scientist.com has more than 70 employees worldwide. In addition to its San Diego headquarters, it also has offices in the UK and Boston. The Japanese expansion announcement comes on the heels of several accolades recognizing Scientist.com’s growth. In August 2018 Scientist.com was ranked #9 on the Inc. 5000 list of fasting-growing privately owned companies in the US.
 
Scientist.com is joining a San Diego delegation of local politicians, industry executives and academic leaders. The company is also one of twenty San Diego companies awarded a $10,000 grant as part of WTC San Diego’s MetroConnect program, a comprehensive export assistance program designed to help local companies accelerate their global growth.
November 12, 2018

In an effort to create a connection between vital economic trading partners, U.S. Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) and World Trade Center San Diego, an affiliate of San Diego Regional EDC, are leading a delegation to Tokyo and Yokohama, Japan. During the trade mission, local companies and organizations will promote key San Diego industries, establish and develop business relationships and explore opportunities for San Diego companies to tap into Japan’s expertise in urban planning and life sciences.

“In today’s global economy, San Diego’s success depends on fostering international relationships that bring investment and jobs to our region,” said Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52). “Japan shares our commitment to life sciences and our startup culture, creating opportunities for collaboration every day. Strengthening our partnership will foster innovation and economic growth in both our regions.”                                                

Japan is currently the third largest economy in the world, and one of San Diego’s most vital trading partners. According to World Trade Center Los Angeles, nearly 12,000 San Diegans are directly employed by Japan-based companies including SONY, Takeda and more. Additionally, there was more than $3.4 billion in economic activity between San Diego and Japan from 2016 -2018.

“Ever since the launch of Japan Airlines' direct service from San Diego, we have seen an influx in foreign investment from the Japanese market,” said Nikia Clarke, executive director of World Trade Center San Diego and vice president of economic development at San Diego Regional EDC. “As the rhetoric around global engagement shifts, now, more than ever, it is essential that we reinforce San Diego’s brand so it is top of mind for investors and companies.”

Over the three day trade mission, San Diego will look to bolster its tech and life sciences industries through various meetings and partnership deals with Japanese counterparts. Some crucial agenda items include:

  • An announcement from a San Diego-based biotech startup that is expanding to Tokyo.
  • A ‘trends in venture capital forum’ with Qualcomm, Yahoo! Japan and others at Plug and Play, the world’s largest technology accelerator.
  • A celebration of more than 60 years of a “Sister City” relationship with Yokohama, Japan.
  • An immersive visit to Takeda’s Shonan Health Innovation Park, one of the first collaborative academic and private sector research centers in Japan.
  • Panels and programming surrounding best practices and ideas exchanges on climate change with Scripps Institute of Oceanography as well as leadership and gender equity.

Delegates will participate in upwards of 15 meetings over the course of the trade mission, sharing best practices and formulating collaborations across many verticals. The 31-San Diego delegates include representatives from Northrop Grumman, Qualcomm Takeda California and more.  Also in attendance are key San Diego agencies, universities and civic organizations such as the Port of San Diego, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, San Diego State University, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, UC San Diego and more.

Additionally, many small businesses and startups, including FoxFury Lighting Solutions, Planck Aerosystems and Scientist.com, will have the opportunity to engage in business development opportunities with Japanese counterparts.

As Tokyo looks to modernize infrastructure and grapples with key issues ahead of the 2020 Olympics, San Diego leaders have the unique opportunity to learn from counterparts across the globe, while also maintaining ties that create jobs and boost the regional economy.

At a time of mounting global uncertainty, World Trade Center San Diego conducts periodic trade missions to drive long term relationships for San Diego’s economy. In 2017, World Trade Center San Diego and Congressman Peters led a trade mission to London, which enabled startup Forge Therapeutics to double its headcount in San Diego and expand to a new facility.

This trade mission is organized by World Trade Center San Diego, an affiliate of the San Diego Regional EDC.

Follow along during the trade mission: #SDinJapan.