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For 36 hours in late September/Early October, RIMAC Arena was transformed from a sports facility, to a coliseum of creative computing. One thousand students from around California came to compete in the largest collegiate hackathon the region has to offer: SD Hacks. Teams worked to create new code, applications and programs that responded to sponsored challenges. In addition to student competition, companies like ViaSat, Qualcomm, SAIC, SPAWAR, Perkins Coie, iboss Cybersecurity, Classy, VaultRMS, Booz Allen Hamilton and the City of San Diego joined in to talk local tech opportunity and mentor student teams. When all is said and done, 1,000 prospective tech employees left the competition with a new perspective on opportunities in tech, here in San Diego.
In an age of rapidly evolving technology, it’s becoming increasingly pertinent for companies to defend themselves against cyber attacks. The cybersecurity sector seeks out the brightest minds to stay one step ahead of hackers who threaten security of some of the biggest U.S. companies like Netflix, Twitter, Spotify and Amazon. Experts predicted one million cyber job openings worldwide in 2016. This burgeoning market for cyber professionals saw 74 percent growth in the last 5 years with expected growth of 13 percent in San Diego alone between 2016 and 2017. Big players in cybersecurity call San Diego home including SPAWAR, ViaSat, ESET, Northrop Grumman, Sentek Global and General Atomics, to name a few.
EDC's Link2 San Diego program seeks to retain the region's new grads by introducing them to industry leaders and lucrative job opportunities within some of the region's fastest growing sectors. By partnering with local universities, students have a chance to interact one-on-one with top executives they may not otherwise meet. Our fall 2016 Link2 series kicked off with Link2Tech at CSU San Marcos and Cuyamaca College this September. Now, in recognition of National Cyber Security Awareness month, we brought Link2Cyber to USD and SDSU.
Link2Cyber at USD was hosted in partnership with the university's new Center for Cyber Security Engineering and Technology (CCSET). The panel was moderated by Winnie Callahan, director of CCSET and featured representatives from the Cyber Center of Excellence, Sharp Healthcare, ESET, City of San Diego and SPAWAR. There were more than 60 college and high school students in attendance.
For Link2Cyber at SDSU, EDC partnered with the university's Department of Computer Science and its Computer Sciences Advisory Board in hosting 60 students and 20 industry representatives for a networking reception and panel discussion. During the panel, representatives from Sony, General Atomics, ViaSat, LP3 Security and Sentek Global spoke to current trends in cybersecurity and provided insight on how students can best prepare for jobs in cyber.
By showcasing the breadth and diversity of San Diego's top industries, EDC is working to retain and attract top tier talent in San Diego.
By Nikia Clarke, director, World Trade Center San Diego
WTC San Diego was on the road again last week, joining Biocom, UC San Diego and four San Diego life sciences companies for BioJapan in Yokohama. Yokohama is San Diego’s sister city; a lovely port city of 3.7 million people—and Japan’s second largest metro—that often gets lost in the shadow of nearby Tokyo (sound familiar?). Yokohama was an auto manufacturing and export capital, and in the words of city officials, “home to the very first Japanese auto company: Ford motors.” As much of that manufacturing moved to lower cost destinations in Asia, Yokohama has had to pivot towards more knowledge-intensive industries like ICT and life sciences. I toured several research spaces and innovation houses in which the city government has invested to support these new industries.
Yokohama and San Diego will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the sister city relationship in 2017, with a visit from Mayor Hayashi. I carried with me this time a letter from San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, celebrating this relationship as both sides look to build upon long diplomatic relations with more robust business and commercial exchange.
A quickly-growing gateway into the Asian life sciences industry, BioJapan 2016 hosted 800 companies, 15,000 visitors and was sponsored by big San Diego employers like Takeda, Ajinomoto, Kyowa Kirin, Chugai and J&J Innovation, among others.
Japan is the second largest pharmaceuticals market globally after the U.S., and is also San Diego’s second largest source of foreign investment. 'Asian multinationals have been shifting significantly from legacy industries into new growth verticals: Ajinomoto moving from food additives to pharmaceuticals; Samsung exploring biologics, precision instruments and wireless health; and FujiFilm expanding from cameras to vaccine manufacturing.
However, as Takeda CEO Christophe Weber shared in his keynote, the majority of big discoveries in this space are being generated by startups and SMEs, which is why aligning corporate capital and strategy with venture-fueled innovation is essential for the future of the global life sciences industry. This is where the opportunity for San Diego lies.
San Diego does innovation very well, which is why BioJapan is a great opportunity for partnering and sales opportunities for local companies targeting Japan. Companies like Organovo, a San Diego company that “bioprints” human tissue, traveled to Yokohama for partnering meetings. Founded in 2007, Organovo now employs more than 100 people and is trading on the Nasdaq.
Even as new trends and technologies change the industry in both Japan and San Diego, it is clear that the importance of relationship building remains paramount. Biocom has made a long-term investment in the region, and has cultivated a widespread respect for the California life sciences ecosystem. Biocom now has 40 member companies in Japan, and on this trip signed an MOU with the Kobe biocluster and opened a Biocom Japan office; its only presence outside the U.S.
UC San Diego has similarly focused on Japan, opening its own office in the prestigious Nihonbashi life sciences building in central Tokyo earlier this year, and building robust industry and university research and training collaborations across Japan, in everything from medicine to robotics to entrepreneurship.
As Biocom continues to build bridges between global life sciences clusters, and UC San Diego reinforces them with world-class research alliances, WTC San Diego’s objective is to build the sustainable infrastructure to move companies across those bridges, through export programs like MetroConnect, and the creation of innovation investment networks.
In 2016 we have participated in a Technology Symposium, spoken to 400 investors in three cities about opportunities in San Diego, and partnered with JETRO to connect MetroConnect companies to business opportunities in Japan.
As always, increased collaboration globally—especially in our most competitive and high-growth sectors—amplifies our outcomes for the region as a whole, creating jobs, opportunities and connectivity. Luckily, collaboration is something San Diego does well.
San Diego’s thriving tourism and life sciences companies are often in the limelight. However, there’s one industry that had an economic impact of over $14 billion in 2012 alone and has significant regional impact: maritime. Maritime technology, or bluetech as its otherwise known, is an increasingly important part of San Diego’s business ecosystem and includes sub-verticals such as desalination tech, fish hatchery solutions and robotics.
San Diego-based Ocean Aero is one such company in this rapidly growing space. Ocean Aero – inventor and producer of the Submaran™ S10, an impressive autonomous underwater vehicle that can move both above and below the ocean’s surface – is a cutting edge example of the innovation emerging from the sector. Eric Patten, Ocean Aero’s president and CEO, believes San Diego’s unique blend of intellectual capital make it ideally suited for producing something like the Submaran: “San Diego is a maritime town and therefore has a lot of the talent and expertise required in building a unique hybrid ocean observation vehicle.”
It seems only a natural fit that Patten dove into the maritime industry, after serving as a U.S. Navy Captain for more than 25 years. Patten brought with him a passion for the ocean when he joined the company in early 2013 shortly after its founding in December 2012, hoping to develop the next generation of underwater autonomous vehicle (UAVs). Patten has not only put Ocean Aero at the forefront of UAVs, but has also, alongside his talented team, developed a complementary digital platform that can serve up unique analytics and insights across a variety of applications.
Ocean Aero has already experienced some noteworthy success in its relatively short lifetime, as the company signed a multi-million dollar two-year contract with the Department of Defense in 2015. Building on top of this momentum, Ocean Aero was then selected as a winner in the Aerospace, Security, & Cyber Technologies Category at CONNECT’s 28th Annual Most Innovative New Product Awards. Patten now plans on expanding globally with a focus on markets such as Japan and the United Kingdom.
“We are specifically targeting the scientific, commercial, academic and government markets. These are very broad markets but they are global markets – which is why an international presence is absolutely important to us,” said Patten.
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 Ocean Aero 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.