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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


MetroConnect Finalist

November 17, 2016

To propel San Diego into the global marketplace, WTC San Diego, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Councilmember Mark Kersey, new Stone Brewing CEO Dominic Engels and nearly 200 business and community leaders awarded the MetroConnect Grand Prize to Rough Draft Brewing. The local, family-owned craft brewery – known for its IPAs and Miramar-based tasting room – is taking its San Diego-made beer into the Canadian, Spanish and Chinese markets. With the network, funding and programmatic support provided by MetroConnect, Rough Draft has increased its sales, hired new talent and connected with the Port of San Diego and Dole to fill empty container ships on backhaul to Latin America.

Managed by WTC San Diego and presented by JPMorgan Chase, the MetroConnect Grand Prize offers $35,000 to one of 15 companies to aid in their foreign market expansion.

So why go global? 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.

The MetroConnect Program was announced to incentivize small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to pursue these foreign markets. Now in its second year, MetroConnect has emerged as the region’s premier export assistance program. Led by WTC San Diego, Fifteen 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 75 applicants in 2016, just 15 San Diego companies were awarded the initial $10,000 MetroConnect Prize, funded by JPMorgan Chase.

Over the course of the program, the cohort produced an additional $6 million in export sales and 42 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 five finalists to present at the Grand Prize event: Deering Banjo CompanyMANTA InstrumentsRough Draft Brewing Company, Calbiotech and VaultRMS.

 Winning thoughts:

“We want to thank World Trade Center San Diego, JPMorgan Chase and all those who participated in making this a memorable and meaningful event. To my fellow MetroConnect finalists Calbiotech, Deering Banjos, MANTA Instruments and VaultRMS, it’s been a privilege learning with and from you,” said Jeff Silver, president of Rough Draft Brewing. “We deeply appreciate receiving the Grand Prize in recognition of our efforts and look forward to continued success on the international level.”​

The complete 2016 cohort can be found here.

November 18, 2015

In an effort to cement San Diego’s reputation as a world class innovation hub and help SMEs expand their global reach, Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer, San Diego Regional EDC and JPMorgan Chase & Co. awarded the MetroConnect Grand Prize to San Diego-based genomics startup Cypher Genomics. The Grand Prize winner was voted on by an audience of more than 100 people at the MetroConnect PitchFest. 

Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer said, “San Diego’s world-class economy grows from local ideas, startups and businesses that sprout into global companies. I’m proud to host MetroConnect, which not only helps strengthen our overall economy at its roots, but fosters and supports startups like Cypher Genomics at the local level. I hope that Cypher Genomics will continue captivate investment abroad in the same way that they’ve found success here at home. ”

Ashley Van Zeeland, co-founder & CEO, Cypher Genomics said, “Cypher is grateful to win the MetroConnect Grand Prize and to participate in the vibrant and innovative San Diego entrepreneurial community. This award will help us build collaborations around the globe with countries who can use our genome interpretation technology to uncover the genetic causes of rare diseases and cancer, which can inform new therapeutics and improve healthcare around the world.”

Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer said, “San Diego’s world-class economy grows from local ideas, startups and businesses that sprout into global companies. I’m proud to host MetroConnect, which not only helps strengthen our overall economy at its roots, but fosters and supports startups like Cypher Genomics at the local level. I hope that Cypher Genomics will continue captivate investment abroad in the same way that they’ve found success here at home. ”

Pharmaceutical manufacturer IriSys also took home the runner-up prize.

Brennon Crist, head of JPMorgan Chase’s Middle Market Commercial Banking Group in San Diego said, “JPMorgan Chase is delighted to recognize all of these outstanding San Diego businesses that have thoroughly embraced the region’s go-global vision. We hope the MetroConnect Prize Program will enable Cypher Genomics and IriSys to continue advancing their global strategy by connecting with potential customers in target international markets. Over time, this outreach can be a win not only for these companies, but for economic growth and job creation for the region.

Nikia Clarke, direct of World Trade Center San Diego said, “MetroConnect targets small and medium sized businesses like Cypher and Irisys because they are really the drivers of the regional economy. The more they export their products and technology, the more connected, competitive, and resilient San Diego becomes.”

Managed by San Diego Regional EDC, and presented by JPMorgan Chase, the MetroConnect Grand Prize offers $50,000 – $35,000 for the winner and $15,000 for the runner-up – to further aid these companies in foreign market expansion. In June, 15 San Diego companies were selected as finalists for the MetroConnect prize, and given $10,000 to pursue strategies to export in foreign markets. Over the course of four months, the 15 companies demonstrated their ability to export to foreign markets. A panel of judges consisting of representatives from  Biocom, CONNECT, Qualcomm Ventures, Quantum Designs, San Diego Regional EDC, Tech San Diego and Wireless Life Sciences Alliance reviewed companies’ accomplishments and goals as a means of selecting the top four finalists to present at the PitchFest: Applied Membranes, Aventyn, Cypher Genomics and IriSys.

A spin-out of the Scripps Research Institute, San Diego-based Cypher Genomics is a 13 person startup that’s revolutionizing the way we understand and deliver personalized healthcare. Through its technology, Cypher Genomics is able to rapidly sequence the human genome, enabling scientists and medical professionals to find individualized therapies to combat rare diseases. With the MetroConnect Prize, Cypher was able to partner with Genome England on its large-scale study to sequence 100,000 human genomes. 

With the $35,000 Grand Prize, Cypher will be exploring additional foreign markets, such as Saudi Arabia and Sweden, that are investing in population-scale genomics.  Because of this foreign activity, Cypher is able to boost product innovation, translating into further job creation and capital investment in the San Diego market.

Global engagement is essential if San Diego wants to catalyze its economy and workforce. 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.

October 23, 2015

This is part of an ongoing series on the recipients of the MetroConnect Prize, presented by JPMorgan Chase, a grant awarded to 15 companies looking to expand into new foreign markets.


Over the past two decades, Asia has risen dramatically as a global economic powerhouse. With increased economic power, many Asian countries have also experienced increased population growth, increased household income, and higher life expectancy. 

Global companies are investing heavily in Asia in research and manufacturing, and while Asia was once seen as a place to outsource manufacturing and production, it is increasingly becoming a major R&D hub in its own right. Asia’s pharmaceutical industry is estimated to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars. A recent report by the Economic Intelligence Unit noted that regional pharmaceutical sales have reached $214 billion in 2010, and is expected to hit $386 billion in 2016.

The number of players in the global pharmaceutical industry is rising. However, there are still several barriers that prevent the industry from truly coming together.

IriSys, LLC, a San Diego-based contract pharmaceutical research and development and manufacturing company, aims to bridge the gap between Asia’s pharmaceutical firms and the U.S. market.

“We see the Asian markets, especially China and Japan, as areas where we can find new companies needing our services here in the U.S.,” said Gerald J. Yakatan, chairman and CEO of IriSys. “We are an important provider of services to biotech and pharmaceutical companies wishing to develop products to meet FDA standards in the United States. It is our view that drug discovery is becoming a world-wide effort, and that new drugs will emerge from improved basic drug discovery research occurring in Asia.”

With the richness of R&D efforts of Asian pharmaceutical companies, it is no wonder that the U.S. has now become the untapped market. IriSys is part of a globally collaborative movement that will expand access to pharmaceutical developments and enable companies to fulfill regulatory requirements in the U.S..

With the MetroConnect funds, IriSys plans to augment business development efforts in China and Japan.

“IriSys will be using the funds from the MetroConnect Award to further our on-going efforts to develop business in Asia,” said Yakatan.  “We have already translated our website into Mandarin, attended scientific conferences in both Japan and China, and will try to set up a business development office in Shanghai, China in 2016 to help create awareness of our capabilities.”

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 Prize, companies such as IriSys received $10,000 in grants to assist with their next step going global.

 


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September 18, 2015


This is part of an ongoing series on the recipients of the MetroConnect Prize, presented by JPMorgan Chase, a grant awarded to 15 companies looking to expand into new foreign markets.


The wireless broadband industry contributed more than $146 billion to the U.S. GDP in 2011. It was responsible for 2.8 percent of all U.S. employment – 3.8 million jobs, directly and indirectly. When ranked among the largest industries in the world, wireless broadband would rank 46th, as measured by GDP – larger than publishing, agriculture, and motor vehicle manufacturing.

San Diego’s longstanding strength in the wireless and information technologies makes it the ideal place for the convergence of the healthcare and wireless industries. Aventyn, a digital health company specializing in cloud connected clinical information, is a company that represents this convergence. Its technology provides many solutions through medical imaging, analytics and genome reporting for health providers, pharma-life sciences, pharmacogenetics, and population health management.

“San Diego has been at the forefront of innovations in wireless technology, genomics, and biotech for decades,” said Michael LoVullo, vice president of integrated health solutions at Aventyn. “With the convergence of these significant industries, expertise and knowledge, in collaboration with our health systems, we are able to accelerate the innovation cycle in personalized medicine.”

It is because of small- and medium-sized companies that San Diego’s life sciences industry ranks fourth in the U.S. The success of these firms is critical to the region’s future, and increasing their global reach is crucial to that success. Through the MetroConnect Prize, companies such as Aventyn received $10,000 grants to assist with their next step in going global.

Aventyn plans to target the European market for its international expansion – specifically Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. These are important markets for the wireless health industry since, according to Recon Analytics, the European Union (EU) “…wireless penetration continues to outpace the U.S., with the EU reaching 126.2 percent at the end of 2009 and the U.S. reaching 102.4 percent penetration in June 2011.”

“Currently, our remote monitoring and integrated disease management platform serves several thousands of patients in the U.S., Sweden, and India,” said LoVullo. “We continue to expand in Europe and the Middle East with strategic regional health system partners and globally recognized distributors.”

August 19, 2015

This is part of an ongoing series on the recipients of the MetroConnect Prize, a grant awarded to 15 companies looking to expand into new foreign markets and made possible by JPMorgan Chase. Subscribe here to receive new posts every Wednesday on this topic.


“The future of water is going to be turbulent for all of us — not far away, but right where we live; not in some distant decade, but next month or next spring. A sense of water insecurity is coming to many places that have never had a water worry.” – Charles Fishman, “How California is Winning the Drought”, New York Times

Water. The world’s most precious resource. It is the fuel of manufacturing and the embodiment of craft beer. It is the heartbeat of international trade and the platform for mass entertainment.

Lately, this resource has been incredibly scarce across the globe, especially in California. However, the innovation coming out of government and business has begun to address this dire need; for instance, Israel overcame its lack of water by building desalination plants. Six years later, Israel is no longer “drying up”. In 2014, Saudi Arabia began construction on the world’s largest desalination plant. Not only is San Diego building the largest desalination plant in the Western Hemisphere in Carlsbad, it is also the world leader in the technology that is enabling these countries to build such important devices that bring potable sea water to the masses.

“San Diego County was the ‘birthplace’ of the commercialization of spiral wound reverse osmosis membrane technology,” said Dr. Gil Dhawan, founder and CEO at Applied Membranes. “Our company, started here and this area is a very desirable place to be – having local access to talented individuals and knowledgeable customers, we can design and manufacture the best available water treatment solutions.”

Reverse osmosis membranes separate the impurities in water to create filtered water, which people can drink or companies can use to manufacture craft beer.

Dr. Dhawan worked extensively with Dr. Sourirajan, the inventor of the first commercial reverse osmosis membranes. After working with one of the industry’s founding fathers, Dr. Dhawan started his own company. Headquartered in Vista, Applied Membranes is a manufacturer and distributor of water filtration systems and components that revolve around this technology.

With more than 175 employees in the region and more than 30 years of experience, Applied Membranes is one of the most global companies in San Diego. It currently does business in North Africa, Europe, the Middle East and many other regions around the world.

San Diego’s maritime industry is one of the largest in the U.S. The success of the industry’s small- and medium-sized companies is critical to the region’s future, and increasing their global reach is crucial to that success. Through the MetroConnect Prize, made possible by JPMorgan Chase, companies such as Applied Membranes received $10,000 grants to assist with their next step in going global.

“We are using the money for targeted travel to Japan and China to set up meetings with prospective customers/distributors and to attend trade shows,” said Dr. Dhawan. “We believe that both countries represent growth markets for our products.”

 


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July 29, 2015

This is part of an ongoing series on the recipients of the MetroConnect Prize, a grant awarded to 15 companies looking to expand into new foreign markets. Subscribe here to receive new posts every Wednesday on this topic.


There are 3.2 billion base pairs in your genome. Although all of this information is contained within a single cell, decoding it – and thus understanding many diseases and pathologies – is a challenge.  

San Diego-based Cypher Genomics, winner of the MetroConnect Prize, may be changing that.

We’re working to translate your genome into actionable information to impact human health,” said Adam Simpson, COO of Cypher Genomics at the MetroConnect launch on July 1.

Cypher is working to solve a large problem facing the genomics industry – genome interpretation. As one of the 15 winners of the MetroConnect Prize, Cypher will be taking its genome decoding technology to the rest of the globe. 

SMEs represent the vast majority of businesses in the region and are responsible for much of the innovation and job creation activity that propels our economy. The success of these firms is critical to the region’s future, and increasing their global reach is crucial to that success. Through the MetroConnect Prize, companies such as Cypher Genomics received $10,000 grants to assist with their next step in going global.

Cypher plans to use the prize money to advance business development efforts around the globe including in the United Kingdom, Japan and China. Not only are these countries that can benefit from genomics technology, but they are also among San Diego’s top five trade partners. Simpson is currently en route to the U.K. to use some of the funds.

As Cypher has learned, they’re not promoting their own business, but also the San Diego region. San Diego is known across the globe as a major contender in the life sciences industry.  Just last week, JLL found that San Diego had the fourth largest life sciences cluster in the nation.  Although we may have just missed the top three, when it comes to genomics, San Diego is the gold standard.

Like many successful San Diego life sciences firms, Cypher traces its roots back to our research institutes on the Mesa. What started as an idea inside of the Scripps Research Institute has morphed into a 10 plus person company. Chaired by industry vet Hank Nordoff (Hank also chaired EDC’s board from 2004 -2006), Cypher is in good company with many other leading genomics companies including Illumina, Sequenom and others.  

We have incredible academic institutions. We have access to incredible talent, wonderful people, and great companies. San Diego really is THE city for genomics, said Simpson.

The MetroConnect Prize is made possible by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

You can read Cypher Genomics' blog post about the MetroConnect prize here.