Reflections on our trade mission by WTCSD’s director

Thriving Cities Trade Mission to the Netherlands

Two weeks have passed since our return from the Netherlands Trade Mission, and I continue to think back on how effectively public and private sector forces work together to develop the infrastructure for trains, busses, bicycles, cars, and even canal boats to coexist in harmony. 

After three years of pandemic-related travel limitations, it was refreshing and inspiring to hit the road again, this time with San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and 29 of our region’s most influential and collaborative business, academic, political, and economic leaders. This delegation carried the San Diego banner in one of the world’s leading metros for innovation and circular urban development—the Netherlands—a country engineered out of the sea. 

Learn why the netherlands → 

We kicked off the mission by hosting the Thriving Cities Mayoral Forum, where we explored the leading role that cities play in driving circular/sustainable development with insight from Mayor Gloria, Amsterdam Mayor Halsema, and other innovation leaders from both regions.

We visited Qualcomm’s largest AI research hub outside of San Diego to celebrate its expansion, and learn about its partnership with the University of Amsterdam, QUVA, which supports a pipeline of engineering talent.  

Joined by SANDAG Chair Catherine Blakespear and leadership at San Diego’s higher education institutions, we visited TNO, the premier applied research organization of the Dutch government to see its newest tool in action—a ‘digital twin’ of a region that overlays conditions for traffic, energy usage, pollution, and more, with the option to toggle different variables to see how the conditions interact with each other.  

Our delegation then headed to ‘the smartest kilometer in Europe’ to visit Philips and ASML, the largest medical systems and technology companies in the Netherlands, respectively, that both have existing and growing operations in San Diego. 

We also brought together three Commissioners and the CEO of the Port of San Diego in the Port of Rotterdam to learn about circular and efficient operations at Europe’s busiest port and share the exciting developments we have underway on our beautiful waterfront. 

And perhaps one of the most inspiring moments of our trade mission happened on our last day, when WTCSD’s MetroConnect companies Trabus Technologies and Nano PharmaSolutions pitched to Port of Rotterdam and Leiden Bio Science Park leaders, respectively, for foreign investment. 

As we settle back into life in San Diego, our delegation brings home a fresh perspective on the ways we can address challenges in critical areas such as transportation and urban development. We see more clearly than ever the value of closer collaboration between the public sector, academia, and private business. In the coming years, we hope to see engineering solutions and transformative technologies like TNO’s Digital Twin being used to aid decision-making in large public works, and large multinationals like ASML and Philips successfully growing their operations in the region. 

Most of all, we look forward to the meaningful relationships and connections built through the mission and the collaboration that will lead to smarter, stronger, more inclusive development for all, right here in San Diego.  

The trade mission is organized by WTCSD, an affiliate of the San Diego Regional EDC, with assistance and support provided by the Consulate of the Netherlands, and sponsorship by ASML, Lufthansa, and Qualcomm Technologies.

Dankjewel,

Lucas Coleman
Lucas Coleman

Director, WTC; Export Specialty SBDC

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