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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


WTC San Diego

July 18, 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.

A pioneer in renewable energy, San Diego is home to some of the world’s most innovative companies in cleantech research and development. The region’s cleantech industry includes the innovation and deployment of technologies in clean transportation, energy storage, energy efficiency, biorenewables and solar and wind power. Solatube Worldwide Sales, a company owned by North County-based Solatube International, Inc. is an excellent example of how a San Diego company combines innovation in both harvesting solar energy and energy efficiency. 

Solatube tubular daylighting devices (TDDs) are affordable, high-performance lighting solutions that bring daylight into interior spaces where traditional skylights and windows simply can’t reach. Sometimes called “light tubes,” TDDs have become the ideal solution for lighting interiors in a cost-effective, energy-efficient and eco-friendly way because they significantly reduce the need for electricity while keeping people connected to the outdoor environment. Solatube products are used in commercial and residential settings in over 120 countries around the world.

Solatube Worldwide Sales acts as the international division that handles all areas outside the U.S. and Canada. Impressively, the team of three employees currently markets and sells Solatube Daylighting Systems and Solar Star Attic Fans into Southeast Asia, Korea and Africa, on top of managing in-country sales reps and distributor networks.

With a new focus on India’s market, Solatube Worldwide Sales plans to use MetroConnect Program support for import tariff reduction projects, exhibitor presence at key trade shows, travel to meetings with Bureau of Energy Efficiency and other tariff reducing entities, as well as market research and workforce growth strategy.  

Todd Maerowitz, Director of International Sales states, “We’re looking forward to working closely with the San Diego World Trade Center on our expansion of Solatube’s products into emerging markets. As we move into places like India and Sub-Saharan Africa, the relationships and financial support we’ll be privy to as part of the program, are sure to prove beneficial to our growth plans."

 

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 Solatube Worldwide Sales are 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.

June 30, 2016
San Diego Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer, World Trade Center San Diego, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and business and civic leaders unveiled the 15 companies selected to participate in the MetroConnect Program, a comprehensive support program to help local companies accelerate their global growth.
 
“The MetroConnect Program helps us to foster our startup community to provide phenomenal opportunities for San Diego entrepreneurs abroad,” said Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer, who announced the program participants. “I am proud of the 15 companies selected by MetroConnect, which represent virtually every sector of our region’s innovation economy, from life sciences to maritime tech and wireless analytics. It is my hope that they will use our MetroConnect Program to write new chapters in San Diego’s success story.”

 
From Deering Banjo, the largest banjo manufacturing company in the U.S., to Ocean Aero, an autonomous underwater unmanned systems company, the 2016 MetroConnect companies represent a diverse cross section of San Diego’s innovation economy.
 
Each MetroConnect participant will be awarded a $10,000 grant provided by JPMorgan Chase to assist with their international efforts.
 
Building on the success of the pilot round, the MetroConnect Program is creating additional support services in 2016 to directly help San Diego companies. These services include:
 
  • 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 the Japan Airlines direct flight from San Diego to Tokyo
  • 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 November 2016

The expanded MetroConnect Program is made possible by JPMorgan Chase, a company committed to helping San Diego reach its full economic potential.

MetroConnect funds can be used for a variety for global services including travel (to and from target markets), participation in trade shows, establishment of a foreign subsidiary, foreign language translation of marketing materials and more. In 2015, MetroConnect Grand Prize Winner Cypher Genomics was acquired by San Diego-based Human Longevity Inc. after using the money to fund a partnership with Genomics England. Pharmaceutical company IriSys – another 2015 participant – opened a business development office in Shanghai.
 
“Global connectivity is crucial to San Diego’s economic future, and SMEs are increasingly its driver,“ said Nikia Clarke, executive director of World Trade Center San Diego. “Thanks to JPMorgan Chase, we are continuing to build out a comprehensive export support program to ensure that San Diego’s goods, services and technologies are competing overseas.”

 
According to the Brookings Institution, companies that are global pay their employees higher wages, are less likely to go out of business and spur more efficient development of technology and R&D.
 
In total, 73 San Diego companies applied to the MetroConnect Program. Companies were selected based on criteria including potential for export growth, development of an international strategy and potential benefit the company would receive from international expansion. Judges included representatives from Applied Membranes, Biocom, Qualcomm Ventures, U.S. Department of Commerce, San Diego Regional EDC, San Diego State University’s CIBER, Tech San Diego, Taylor Guitars and UC San Diego.
 
The MetroConnect Program is administered by WTC San Diego, an affiliate of San Diego Regional EDC. The program is made possible through JPMorgan Chase, with additional support from Japan Airlines, Qualcomm Ventures, SYSTRAN and Taylor Guitars.
 
For more information about MetroConnect, please go to MetroConnectsd.org
 
The 15 program participants:
  1. Aurora Spine
  2. AVACEN Medical
  3. Calbiotech
  4. Deering Banjo Company
  5. ElliptiGO, Inc.
  6. GroundMetrics
  7. Hyperikon
  8. INOVA Drone
  9. MANTA Instruments Inc.
  10. Ocean Aero
  11. Ocean Reef
  12. Rough Draft Brewing Company
  13. Solatube Worldwide Sales
  14. VaultRMS
  15. Whova
June 30, 2016
By Sean Barr, Senior Vice President of Economic Development and only in-office Canadian
 
EDC traveled to Toronto last week with our peers from Atlanta and Minneapolis to meet with metro leaders from across Canada. Facilitated by the Brookings Global Cities Initiative, the conversations proved to be a great opportunity for EDC and WTC San Diego to continue to build bridges with key cities such as Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and of course, my native Winnipeg. 
 
There are a number of international markets that many San Diegans might not consider to be at the top of our list. Canada is just one of those markets that surprises many. Canadian cities, in particular, continue to drive a large share of San Diego's trade and investment interests. 
 
Canada purchased more than $2.8 billion worth of goods and services from San Diego in 2013. Inward investment from Canada supports more than 4,300 jobs in San Diego’s local economy. Bottom line, Canada is San Diego's fourth largest trading partner. But still, there is room to grow and expand the depth of the relationship with our Neighbor to the North. For instance, Vancouver shares our pacific, bi-national orientation and smart cities, life sciences and research-driven strengths – a metro market EDC and WTC San Diego intend on growing as we move into 2017. 
 
With Canada’s birthday on July 1, we wish all our Canadian friends, investors and partners a very Happy Canada Day!
 
June 21, 2016

This week, World Trade Center San Diego traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend the SelectUSA Summit.

For the first time ever, San Diego had an organized and coordinated effort for the nation’s foreign investment summit. In partnership with the City of San Diego and the City of Chula Vista, San Diego hosted a booth that attracted nearly 40 international companies and investors that communicated interest in the San Diego region. Their interests ranged from learning about the city’s concentration of innovation-based industries, San Diego’s climate action plan and additional details on the local talent pool. While quantifiable value is still be determined, the overall experience by the San Diego delegation was incredibly positive and we’re all in agreement that SelectUSA did a top notch job.

The summit hosted more than 2,400 visitors from 70 international markets, including some of San Diego’s priority markets – Japan, China, Germany, Canada and more. Foreign direct investment (FDI) is a key tenant of the work WTC San Diego undertakes, especially as it tends to increase the research & development funding of a region (great when your region’s R&D efforts contribute more than $14 billion), pay employees better wages/salaries (great when your region’s pay is already competitive for its employed citizens) and can fill key capital gaps of a region (which enhances the fact that  San Diego receives the 4th highest amount per capita of venture capital in the software industry).

Staying on the topic of foreign investment, WTC San Diego’s executive director Nikia Clarke attended the inaugural meeting of the Investment Advisory Council (IAC). The IAC is a group of key foreign and domestic business leaders that will advise Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and the U.S. Department of Commerce on policies that will enable the government to ensure foreign investment flows into the U.S. economy. In an ever increasing global economy, where FDI is shifting from  advanced economies to emerging and from big business to small- and medium-sized enterprises, it has become apparent that the U.S. – both from a national and a local level – needs to proactively market and attract foreign investment. The IAC will meet over the next two years in order to advise the current administration and help streamline the transition into the new one.

Finally, we couldn’t have had the presence we did at SelectUSA without the help and success of our key local companies. To that effect, we want to thank Stone Brewing Co. for its incredible work in promoting the San Diego craft beer industry. Using their beer at the private reception WTCSD and the City of San Diego hosted on Monday night, we attracted more than 50 investors and educated them on the San Diego region’s offerings by allowing attendees to experience a little of our quality of life – craft beer (IPA’s of course) and sliders.

 

June 21, 2016

This week, the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority announced a new seasonal service between San Diego and Frankfurt, Germany. The new flight – operated by Condor Airlines – will provide the only nonstop connection between San Diego and Continental Europe.

EDC and World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD) worked in partnership with the San Diego Tourism Authority to support the efforts of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority to bring Condor Airlines’ direct daily service to Frankfurt.

New international route service is a core priority of the newly relaunched WTCSD and EDC’s global competitiveness interests. Making the business case, the EDC and WTCSD team prepared a package of materials, including research related to economic ties between both Germany and San Diego, and a series of case studies of German-owned firms operating in the San Diego region and a compilation of San Diego-based companies operating in Germany.

Key economic figures include:

  • In 2015, Germany ranked as the 4th largest source of foreign employment in San Diego, with more than 4,368 jobs in San Diego tied to German-owned businesses.
  • German companies such as Taylormade (Adidas), Kontron and Siemens all have locations in San Diego.
  • Germany is a top destination for San Diego exports, especially in the machinery, electronics and precision instruments industries.
  • Over the last decade, German companies have invested more than 300 million in new projects in our region, making Germany one of our top three largest greenfield investors.  
  • San Diego companies across diverse industries are targeting Germany, as seen with Stone Brewing Co.’s brewery in Berlin opening in late 2016.

Upon meeting with the Condor team, EDC prepared and delivered a presentation outlining the growing interests between Germany and San Diego. In the weeks following the presentation, EDC answered a series of follow up questions and requests from the Condor Airlines route planning division to help secure its commitment to San Diego.

“As one of San Diego’s top partners for exports and foreign investment, Germany is fast becoming one of our economy’s most important international markets,” said Mark Cafferty, president and CEO of San Diego Regional EDC. “Condor’s new direct flight will now link San Diego to one of Europe’s most important economic and cultural hubs.”

 

Condor will begin service in May 2017 with up to three weekly flights on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The route will operate on a Boeing 767-300ER aircraft and offer three classes of service: Business Class, Premium Class and Economy Class. Flights can now be booked online at http://www.condor.com/

June 21, 2016

First, Germany. Now, Switzerland. Q2 was chock-full of global wins for San Diego. The San Diego International Airport recently announced a new nonstop service to Zurich, Switzerland. Edelweiss, a Swiss leisure carrier owned by the German airline Lufthansa, will operate flights between the two cities on Mondays and Fridays starting in 2017.

As part of EDC’s efforts to increase San Diego’s global competitiveness, EDC and World Trade Center San Diego (WTC San Diego) worked in partnership with the San Diego Tourism Authority to support the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority in bringing Edelweiss’ nonstop seasonal service to Switzerland. Making the case for San Diego, WTC San Diego provided data and research on economic ties to the European innovation hub.

 Why Switzerland matters to San Diego:

  • Switzerland ranks third among all nations for the most foreign employment in San Diego.
  • Swiss companies such as Novartis and Genentech call San Diego their home.
  • In 2011, more than 50 percent of all Swiss employment entered San Diego through M&A activity.

Airport Authority CEO Thella Bowens said that with the addition of the flight, San Diego will have direct service to six countries and add to the list of foreign airlines operating out of Lindbergh Field.

June 14, 2016
This week, the Worth Group announced that San Diego has been named as a 2016 “Worth Destination.” Featured in the June/July issue of Worth magazine, San Diego is among 15 cities lauded for civic leadership, quality of life, business climate, sustainability, entrepreneurial community, cultural offerings and urban innovation.
 
After months of deliberation and research by Worth's editorial team, San Diego was chosen for its burgeoning technology and life sciences ecosystems, powerful cross-border manufacturing economy, unparalleled infrastructure and world-class cultural institutions.
 
“San Diego has long been famous for its incredible natural beauty and beautiful weather,” says Richard Bradley, Worth’s editor in chief and chief content officer. “But thanks to its close and mutually beneficial relationship with Mexico, its status as a global hub with a particular emphasis on Asia, and its world-class scientific community, San Diego is also an economic powerhouse.” “Recognition like this from a magazine as prestigious as Worth shows that San Diego’s reputation is shifting,” says Joe Terzi, President and CEO of the San Diego Tourism Authority. “The city is becoming known for more than beautiful scenery. Showcasing San Diego’s innovation, creativity and strong business sector is vital not only for attracting new companies and talent to the marketplace, but it is also key for attracting top conferences and business travelers, which are a critical part of the local tourism economy.”
 
“From advancing the human genome to developing cutting-edge military technologies, San Diego is a leader in global innovation,” said Mark Cafferty, president and CEO at San Diego Regional EDC. “Worth provides San diego with a powerful platform to tell our story to important audiences around the world.” Focused on entrepreneurship, wealth management, philanthropy, travel and lifestyle, the Worth media brand includes print, digital, broadcast and radio channels as well as the bimonthly magazine Worth. The full list of Worth Destination cities will be announced on June 21. The June/July issue of the magazine featuring San Diego will be available on newsstands beginning June 28, 2016.
April 27, 2016

By Nikia Clarke, Director, World Trade Center San Diego

WTC San Diego is on the road again, with a focus on deepening channels of connectivity between global cities around trade, investment, innovation and thought leadership (as well as herring, it turns out).

I spent last week in Stockholm, Sweden, participating in a Brookings/JPMorgan Chase Global Cities Forum. San Diego joined the Global Cities Initiative (GCI) almost four years ago, led by WTC San Diego founding partners—the City of San Diego, San Diego International Airport and the Port of San Diego—and followed by more than 30 other metros. Stockholm is now joining the GCI and drafting its own internationalization strategy. Together with four other GCI representatives, I spoke on panels and participated in working groups convened by Brookings, the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce and CONNECT Sweden to share San Diego’s experience of building a data-driven trade and investment strategy backed by a regional coalition of partners.

And, as is always the case with these Brookings Metro Exchanges, it’s a wonderful opportunity to learn from our peer cities. Philadelphia’s Economy League, together with their very active WTC, just launched a regional export plan, leveraging service provider networks to reach exporting firms. In London, the Mayor’s office and London & Partners are linking with private sector multinationals to create opportunities for 800 SMEs in new markets. Minneapolis-St. Paul has built strong regional economic development infrastructure that drives significant foreign investment to their bi-city region. World Business Chicago has been leading an effort among dozens of counties to move from competition to collaboration in a metro region that is one of the country’s largest foreign investment destinations.

At the close of the forum, the Chamber—along with the Mayor, Governor, Airport Authority and other public and private sector senior leadership from the region—launched Team Stockholm to drive the effort forward. As the CEO of AstraZeneca—an English-Swedish firm that is the seventh largest pharmaceutical company in the world—spoke to the group about the importance of global connectivity, on the other side of the world, his company inked a deal with San Diego’s Human Longevity Inc. to sequence more than 500,000 genomes and analyze samples from clinical trials. Indeed, competitiveness is all about connectivity.

So how do we continue to grow this kind of connectivity here in San Diego? Turns out Stockholm is the perfect place to reflect on this question, which is why innovation economy experts, like our own Mary Walshok, have been building linkages between our two regions for decades. Stockholm and San Diego have a lot in common: we are both metro regions of 2-3 million with world-class research ecosystems, strong life sciences, telecomm and technology sectors and we happen to be two of the top three most patent intense regions in the world. It is why as you drive down the road you see big names in our region that are also big names in Sweden: Thermo Fisher, Kyocera, Trinity Biotech, Ericsson, JLabs among others.

And in both our cities, so much of the innovation ecosystem is driven by SMEs—which in both San Diego and Stockholm make up around 95 percent of all companies—and the ways in which they are able to engage with large firms and global networks. I visited a number of the institutions that incubate, accelerate and commercialize technology in the region and there is much we can learn from Stockholm.

The Karolinska Innovation Institute spins life sciences and pharmaceutical discoveries out of the university research hospital. Sting—a city-university-private sector collaboration that runs a network of incubators, accelerators and co-working spaces in the region—is launching a new digital health accelerator program that will launch firms into international markets.

EpiCentre is an innovation house founded as a temporary experiment in a downtown high rise awaiting redevelopment last year. Now it has 600 members—large tech corporates, entrepreneurs and everything in between—who run incubators, accelerators, hackathons and labs. As companies grow and scale they move through the flexible, diverse office spaces throughout the building. It will anchor plans for an expansive downtown redevelopment with hotels, restaurants and office space all linked by aerial walkways. Too cool, right?

I had the opportunity to continue these conversations with a brief stopover in London on the way home to visit co-working spaces, tech hubs and San Diego company Cubic’s new transit innovation centre. Cubic already moves 10 million people around London every day as the operator of the Underground’s oyster card payment system. But here they are working with universities, transport providers and entrepreneurs on what’s next for the ever smarter, safer cities of tomorrow? (hint: it might involve talking holograms and buying your ticket with the veins in your hand

One of WTC San Diego’s primary mandates is to grow opportunities both for local firms in overseas markets, and for foreign ones investing in our region. To this end we’ve spoken with more than 400 investors in Japan, taken a group of water tech companies to England and France and are about to select our 2016 cohort of MetroConnect firms. As we reflect on what’s next for our region in terms of boosting our global competitiveness, it is clear that international innovation networks are critical. Certainly some great lessons were taken from this trip: creating great spaces, collaborating with diverse partners and being a little wild and very flexible.

As always, at each stop we were sure to leave behind one of San Diego’s best exports: Stone Brewing Co. craft beer—this time the Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout. No wonder they like us.

Cheers to Stockholm and London, and see you soon, San Diego. 

April 15, 2016

Joining forces to make a binational push to promote innovation, trade and jobs within the San Diego-Tijuana Mega Region, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Tijuana Mayor Jorge Astiazarán welcomed more than 50 high-level leaders from Brazil, Mexico, Canada and South Korea and other countries from across the globe to San Diego for the Fifth Americas Competiveness Exchange (ACE V).

Organized by the World Trade Center San Diego, U.S. Department of Commerce and the Organization of American States, ACE V – a three-day tour of San Diego – made stops at iboss, Qualcomm, UC San Diego and more. As part of the visit, the U.S. Department of Commerce and the participating countries signed a Memorandum of Cooperation (MOC) to support initiatives that promote trade and investment partnerships, stimulate job creation and eliminate barriers to commerce.

“We’re proud of the role that we’re playing in fostering innovation, collaboration and technology. It’s part of the DNA of what’s happening here in San Diego,” said San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. “This is in fact part of what I think makes this region special, when we talk about the relationship that we have for investment, for our business communities, for our start-up communities. You will not find a region that collaborates better than this region.”

February 23, 2016

By Mark Cafferty, President & CEO

Kia ora!

Just back from a long trip to Auckland, New Zealand and Sydney, Australia. I wanted to share some updates and observations from my time representing EDC and marketing our region to our friends Down Under and in the City of Sails.

Unlike many of my recent international trips, I spent a great deal of time over the past few weeks engaging with our economic development peers at the Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development agency (ATEED) and the leadership of the Committee for Sydney – two very different and interesting models in two very different and interesting cities. EDC’s relationships with these highly regarded organizations have been continually strengthened and enhanced through our work with JPMorgan Chase and Brookings Institute. Our colleague Greg Clark from Brookings was especially instrumental in setting up several of these meetings over the course of my trip.

Most exciting for me to see was the buzz EDC’s work has created over the past few years. Both the ATEED and the Committee for Sydney were familiar with our research and gave high praise to our work with the region’s traded clusters. Quite surprisingly, the organizations knew about our transition away from politics/policy over the last four years and praised EDC for being a leader in redefining regional economic development through a collaborative, employer-led approach – a strategy that has served us well.

In Auckland, they are building a "sports and active lifestyle" sector strategy based on the research EDC conducted a few years ago in partnership with San Diego Sports Innovators. They have also analyzed our export strategy and Go Global efforts, and are working to mirror several of our programs/initiatives – now spearheaded by the WTC San Diego housed within EDC.

In Sydney, the highly influential Committee for Sydney was excited about what they have seen/read regarding our collaboration with Mayor Faulconer's office. Specifically, they are hoping to set up a video conference in May with their business and political leadership in Sydney to hear about the "San Diego Story" from the Mayor and the EDC team. From there they are hoping to open the door to a large-scale trade/investment mission in 2017. Stay tuned...

Along the way I also had a fantastic meeting with Baseball New Zealand set up through the San Diego Padres, meetings with the airline industry set up by our colleagues at the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, and continued engagement with leadership from two of our greatest San Diego/Sydney business connections: Cubic and ResMed. Lastly, I met with an Auckland-based VC firm who will likely be visiting businesses in San Diego within the next few months.

As always, San Diego’s universities, world renowned research institutions, biotech industry, defense technology and proximity to Mexico dominated conversations throughout the course of my trip. And with international commerce opportunities increasing and expanding through the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), everyone I spoke with saw San Diego's geography, entrepreneurship and economic diversity as key assets for expanded international trade and investment.

But what was incredible to see was how much better San Diego's economic story was understood and appreciated in comparison to my first visit to Auckland and Sydney just two years ago.

With and through our partners/investors, EDC is successfully placing San Diego on the radar of international businesses, investors and thought leaders across the world. The National Geographic Smart Cities documentary and our work with Brookings and JPMorgan Chase have a lot to do with this, but so does the hard work of our economic development team, the outstanding research we have been producing and the creative way in which our marketing team is framing our work and telling our story. For that, we have nobody to thank more than our board members and investors whose leadership, guidance, support, direction and vision are helping to change the way the world sees our region and our economy. And the best is yet to come.

A fascinating person I met with during this trip told me that an old Australian Aboriginal Proverb states:

"We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love...and then we return home."

Thank you for sharing this time and place with us, and thank you for continuing to support our efforts to observe, learn and grow.