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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


MetroConnect

September 26, 2018

San Diego Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer and World Trade Center San Diego (WTC), JPMorgan Chase & Co. and business and civic leaders unveiled the 20 companies selected to participate in the MetroConnect program, a comprehensive export assistance program to help local companies accelerate their global growth.

“Expanding San Diego’s global reach is vital to creating more local jobs for San Diegans and boosting our regional economy,” said San Diego Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer. “The MetroConnect program and their growing companies are introducing innovative products and services to new international markets and sharing San Diego's story with the rest of the world."

From visual-aid tech startup Aira, to soap manufacturer Dr. Bronner’s, to top 10 Inc. 5000 company Scientist.com, the 2018 MetroConnect companies represent a diverse cross section of San Diego’s innovation economy.

Now in its fourth program-year, the MetroConnect program equips small- and medium-sized companies (SMEs) with a suite of financial and programmatic resources in their efforts to bring their products and services global. Program resources include:

  •  $10,000 in matching grants to cover up to 50 percent of the costs associated with international expansion, made possible by JPMorgan Chase and the Department of Defense’s Office of Economic Adjustment and EDC’s 501(c)(3) Foundation
  • Dedicated WTC San Diego staff manager to support company participants in deploying overseas strategies during the grant period
  • Free export consulting with JAS Forwarding (USA), Inc. on ITAR/EAR regulations and other export activities; in-kind support by San Diego International Airpor
  • 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. Assigned Lufthansa agent for direct flights from San Diego to Frankfurt, Germany
  • Access to country representatives at the Japan External Trade Organization and the United Kingdom Government Office in San Diego
  •  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 June 2019

“JPMorgan Chase is proud to continue supporting the global expansion of San Diego businesses,” said Tim West, Executive Director and head of JPMorgan Chase’s Middle Market Banking practice in San Diego. “MetroConnect will empower these 20 local companies to grow in targeted international markets, and help them navigate many of the complex nuances of global business. MetroConnect’s track record speaks for itself, and we’re looking forward to seeing the program’s continued impact on the San Diego economy.”

Since the program’s debut in 2015, 45 MetroConnect alumni have collectively generated $15 million in new export sales, signed more than 116 new contracts, added 161 new jobs to the region, set up nine new overseas facilities and seen four successful company exits. Past participants include Calbiotech (now ERBA Diagnostics), Rough Draft Brewing, Deering Banjo Company, Cypher Genomics (acquired by Human Longevity Inc.), Planck Aerosystems and many more.

“Amid increasing uncertainty over national trade policy, ensuring that local companies get the tools they need to be successful overseas is more important than ever.  We know that companies that export pay higher wages, are less likely to go out of business, and become more competitive and resilient,” said Nikia Clarke, executive director of World Trade Center San Diego. “Thanks to JPMorgan Chase, the MetroConnect program helps San Diego companies export their innovation around the world, which creates jobs and opportunities back here at home.”

Against the backdrop of rapid changes in global production, a newfound ‘trade war’ with China, and renegotiations of trade agreements, it is more important than ever to support SMEs in going global. 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.

For more information about MetroConnect, please visit MetroConnectSD.org.

The 2018 MetroConnect companies are:

1.       Aira

2.       Allett

3.       Arctic Zero, Inc.

4.       AtYourGate

5.       Bitchin' Sauce

6.       Cloudbeds

7.       Conectric Networks

8.       Dr. Bronner's

9.       Eddy Pump Corporation

10.   Epitope Diagnostics Inc.

11.   Hookit

12.   IPS Group Inc.

13.   KULR Technology Corp.

14.   LRAD Corporation

15.   MRP Training Solutions

16.   PKL Services

17.   Quality Controlled Manufacturing, Inc.

18.   Raveon Technologies Corporation

19.   Scientist.com

20.   Telaeris, Inc.


The MetroConnect program is highly competitive, with just 20 companies selected based on a variety of criteria, including interest in new markets, interest in targeted metro markets, assessed impact of funds, current international traction and more. This is up from just 15 companies in the first three years of the program. Applicants were assessed by a panel of judges, including representatives from Qualcomm Ventures, Biocom, U.S. Commercial Service, Tech San Diego, Rough Draft Brewing, San Diego State University, Tech San Diego, UC San Diego, San Diego Regional EDC and WTC San Diego.

July 2, 2018

Are you a growing, San Diego-based company? Are you looking to expand into foreign markets? Or, are you a defense contractor looking to diversify revenue? San Diego Regional EDC can help.
 
Apply now to EDC's business support programs - MetroConnect and/or the Defense Innovation Voucher Program - which offer $10K-$15K grants and programmatic services to support your business' growth.

 
The details:
  • MetroConnect, World Trade Center San Diego’s flagship export assistance program, is now in its fourth year. Made possible through a grant provided by JPMorgan Chase & Co., small to mid-sized companies in San Diego will receive a $10K grant and programmatic services to assist with international expansion efforts. Learn more.
  • As part of the Department of Defense-funded Propel San Diego grant, the Defense Innovation Voucher Program will provide San Diego headquartered defense companies with $15K in consulting services in one of the following categories: marketing, strategic planning, accounting compliance, lean supply chain analysis and additive manufacturing, and certifications, as well as additional hands-on training for companies looking to diversify revenue. Learn more.
 
The application can be accessed here from July 2 - August 20, 2018.

 

June 8, 2018

World Trade Center San Diego, through a grant provided by JPMorgan Chase & Co., and more than 100 business and community leaders awarded the 2017-18 MetroConnect Grand Prize to CureMatch, a local digital health company focused on personalized medicine and oncology. The company will use the $35,000 award to take its life-saving technology into the Canadian, Mexican and European markets.

“Three years in, the success of the MetroConnect program points to the importance of global trade and connectivity,” said Nikia Clarke, Ph.D., executive director of World Trade Center San Diego, the organization administering the grants. “From securing distribution partnerships in Japan to inking deals in key biotech hubs across the EU, the MetroConnect Grand Prize finalists are sharing their life-changing innovation with the world, helping strengthen San Diego’s economy and workforce.”

Managed by World Trade Center San Diego, an affiliate of the San Diego Regional EDC, and presented by JPMorgan Chase, the MetroConnect Grand Prize offers $35,000 to one of 15 companies to aid in their foreign market expansion. The complete list of finalists can be found here.

The benefits of companies going global and engaging foreign markets are well-documented. 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 2017 alone, San Diego exported $23.8 billion in goods and services from diverse industries including aircraft manufacturing to pharmaceutical R&D. Small- to medium-sized businesses produce 92 percent of those goods – undergirding the importance of programs like MetroConnect.

Now in its third year, MetroConnect has emerged as the region’s premier export assistance program. Run by World Trade Center San Diego, 15 companies are selected on an annual basis and equipped with a suite of programmatic and financial resources to help them in their plans to go global. Out of 50 applicants in 2017, just 15 San Diego companies were awarded the initial $10,000 MetroConnect grant, funded by JPMorgan Chase. Since the program’s inception in 2015, the cohort companies have produced an additional $15 million in export sales and 161 new jobs for the region, collectively.

A panel of judges consisting of business and community leaders reviewed the companies’ respective accomplishments and goals as a means of selecting the top four finalists to present at the Grand Prize event: CureMatch, FoxFury, Planck Aerosystems and Tioga Research.

“CureMatch is thrilled to win the Pitchfest, with special thanks to World Trade Center San Diego and JPMorgan Chase,” said Stephane Richard, Ph.D., president and CEO of CureMatch. “Cancer has no boundaries, so while CureMatch was born in San Diego, we believe that every one of the more than 15 million people diagnosed with cancer this year deserves the best treatment. This grand prize will help CureMatch save more lives around the world.”

“JPMorgan Chase is committed to helping local businesses connect to the global marketplace,” said Tim West, region manager of JPMorgan Chase’s Middle Market Commercial Banking practice in San Diego. “We congratulate the finalists for their efforts to grow their businesses internationally while creating jobs and boosting our local economy.”

The Grand Prize event was hosted at Alexandria Real Estate on June 7, with keynote remarks by Matt Cole president, Cubic Transportation Systems and corporate senior vice president, Cubic Corporation. 

May 14, 2018

This month, it was announced that California had the 5th largest economy in the world, behind the total GDP of the United States, China, Japan, and Germany. Much of this growth is concentrated in the coastal metros which, of course, include San Diego. In an increasingly integrated economy, strategic global economic engagements are crucial to San Diego’s sustained economic competitiveness. By leveraging international exports and foreign direct investment (FDI), San Diego continues to create jobs, increase competitiveness, and boost the region’s global identity.

San Diego, with the help of its local leadership, has become an increasingly global city – one that engages with other metropolitan regions with similar interests and industries. These connections have led to an increase in trade missions, research and innovation partnerships, collaborations, venture funding, and other opportunities for local companies. This year, San Diego welcomed Lufthansa airlines as a direct flight carrier linking San Diego and Frankfurt. Lufthansa joins the ranks of Edelweiss, British Airways, and Japan Airlines in offering overseas nonstop service. These direct flights go a long way in easing both business and tourism travel which foster increased business flow and connect people around the world with San Diego’s world-class tourist sites, such as the San Diego Zoo. These direct flights and increased global connectivity have also done much to help San Diego’s budding companies do business both at home and overseas.

In just the past three years, 45 companies have graduated from MetroConnect, an export assistance program led by WTC San Diego. As we close out our most recent cohort, program participants 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.

While the latest national rhetoric seems to suggest that trade is an evil word and something to be feared, San Diego traces some of its greatest successes to trade. Companies such as Viasat, Qualcomm, Cubic, and Illumina have all translated local innovation into global solutions – solutions that have catapulted San Diego onto the global stage and helped highlight the ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit that helps this region the life-changing place it is.

This week, WTC San Diego is proud to commemorate World Trade Week and highlight the ways in which San Diego is going global. We couldn’t be more proud of our companies, our people, and our innovations. Follow along in our week-long celebration at #WorldTradeWeek, and tell us what #GlobalSD means to you.

The World Trade Week concept was started in 1926 and first observed in 1927 in Southern California. World trade significantly contributes to the nation’s economy and has developed a vast new horizon for America’s businesses. To learn more about the history behind World Trade Week, visit: foreigntradeassociation.com/worldtradeweek.

 

 

May 10, 2018

WTC San Diego is proud to announce the four finalists of MetroConnect, San Diego's premier export assistance program, presented by JPMorgan Chase. These four diverse companies will compete for an additional $35,000 in funding towards their international expansion strategies during our Grand Prize PitchFest on June 7. The catch? They will be looking to you, the attendee, to judge and award the extra cash. Read more and register here.

This year’s finalists are:

  • CureMatch | a genomics, software company that guides oncologists through its platform in selecting the most advanced personalized cancer therapies for patients
  • FoxFury | an innovative, portable, go-anywhere, lighting tools company that serves firefighting, police, military, industrial safety, hazardous area, filming, and photography
  • Planck Aerosystems | an autonomous drone company that focuses on use cases operating from moving vehicles
  • Tioga Research | a contract research organization that supports the research and early development of skin-applied products, including topical, and transdermal drugs and prestige cosmetic products


Join us June 7 for the MetroConnect Pitchfest.

 

May 7, 2018

MetroConnect is WTC San Diego’s comprehensive export support program, presented by JPMorgan Chase. Each year, 15 companies are chosen to receive support that will accelerate their global growth through exporting. Critical to the success of this program areWTC San Diego’s network of MetroConnect partners.

SYSTRAN is a pioneer in translation services and technology, delivering real-time language solutions for companies and government agencies that require the most high-performance translation services on the market. Founded in La Jolla in the midst of the Cold War, SYSTRAN has been a trusted provider of translation solutions to companies such as Symantec, Cisco, Airbus, and Barclays, as well as the U.S. Intelligence community.

SYSTRAN introduced the very first hybrid machine translation engine on the market, with software that automatically learned from existing and validated translations. More recently, SYSTRAN Pure Neural® Server will push the quality and fluency boundary further than ever before, according to SYSTRAN’s Global CTO, Jean Senellart.

As a two-time sponsor of the MetroConnect program, SYSTRAN has made its entry level suite of translation and consulting services available to the 30 participating companies, free of charge. This has allowed companies such as CureMatch and Envision Solar to focus on what they do best (saving lives and the environment) and leave the translation to the experts.

Just this past month, SYSTRAN celebrated its 50th anniversary of helping connect people around the world.

 

Join us June 7 for the MetroConnect Pitchfest.

 

May 3, 2018

MetroConnect is WTC San Diego’s comprehensive export support program, presented by JPMorgan Chase. Each year, 15 companies are chosen to receive support that will accelerate their global growth through exporting. Critical to the success of this program are WTC San Diego’s network of MetroConnect partners.

The Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) is a non-profit that provides business support services to companies expanding to Japan.  JETRO is organized and managed by the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) and maintains 74 overseas offices, 44 regional offices in Japan, and headquarters in Tokyo and Osaka.

With the support of JETRO’s trained staff and advisors, clients can incorporate their business; receive visa, immigration, and HR support, find dedicated office space, identify local government incentives, receive market reports, and more.

One of the MetroConnect companies that received support from JETRO as part of this year's cohort is Foxfury, a portable lighting solutions company for emergency response and law enforcement. JETRO delivered a curated list of manufacturers and distributors and conducted outreach on Foxfury’s behalf. JETRO also represented Foxfury in initial meetings with distributors. These introductions eventually led to an arranged meeting, sales, and a partnership between Foxfury and Ostrich International, which will demo Foxfury products at trade shows in Japan.

 

Join us June 7 for the MetroConnect Pitchfest.

 

April 30, 2018

Next month, join WTC San Diego for the finale of the 2017-2018 MetroConnect export assistance program. MetroConnect, presented by JPMorgan Chase, is a comprehensive export support program designed to help San Diego companies accelerate their global growth. Fifteen San Diego companies were chosen to participate in the 2017-2018 program, representing a variety of sectors including life sciences, maritime, craft goods, and cleantech. These companies received a $10,000 grant and services to help them increase international sales.

On June 7, WTC San Diego is inviting four of the top performing companies back to compete for an additional $35,000. The catch? These companies will be looking to the audience to judge and award the extra cash. Make your vote count at the Grand Prize Pitchfest, as these promising local companies make their final case to be MetroConnect champion.

The event will take place from 2:30 – 5:30 PM at The Alexandria at Torrey Pines. Matt Cole, president of Cubic Transportation Systems will deliver the keynote address. Networking reception to follow.

 

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. 
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.