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The Big Picture San Diego Blog

MetroConnect Prize Company Profile: AirStrip

October 16, 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.

Earlier this week, EDC released the Economic Impact of San Diego’s Research Institutions. The study found that the region’s non-profit research institutions impact roughly 37,000 jobs and have a combined economic impact of $4.6 billion. This equates to hosting 34 Comic-Cons or 33 U.S. Open Golf Championships every year.

 “When it comes to the strength of the region’s life sciences cluster, San Diego has long been a top competitor with other cities across the globe,” said Mark Cafferty, president and CEO of San Diego Regional EDC. “However, no other region has the strength and depth of San Diego's research institutions. As our recent study shows, San Diego-based research is not only leading the way in terms of scientific discovery, but it is also driving company growth and creating jobs.”

Although the industry affects jobs and provides a significant economic impact, it does not tell the whole story. The tech transfer and commercialization of the research produced at these institutions is significant to region’s strong life sciences cluster, ranking 4th as a global life sciences hub by Jones Lang LaSalle.

One prime example of this commercialization of technology is MetroConnect winner AirStrip’s wireless heart rate monitor system for babies and their mothers – Sense4Baby. The Sense4Baby platform was originally researched at the West Health Institute, who then licensed the technology to Sense4Baby, Inc. Then, in 2014, AirStrip acquired the assets of Sense4Baby and has since been featured in the Apple product launch to showcase how wireless devices like the Apple Watch can utilize AirStrip-developed platforms to enable doctors to remotely monitor patients.

“San Diego provides a perfect location to easily connect globally, and is known for many biotech startup companies,” said Alan Portela, CEO at AirStrip. “The region provides access to a number of world-class research institutes.”

The success of small 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 AirStrip received $10,000 grants to assist with their next step in going global.

“The MetroConnect prize funds provided to date are now being used by the AirStrip Sense4Baby team to help identify supply chain cost savings, and will be applied to raise the international profile of Sense4Baby over the long term,” said Portela. “The resulting economic effect was immediate, lowering the cost of assembling, packaging and shipping the final product by 90%. In addition, the funds have been earmarked for language translation of the Sense4Baby page on the AirStrip website and of funding the translation of its Sense4Baby collateral into Dutch, French and Chinese for use by its international sales and distribution partners.

Since the acquisition of Sense4Baby, AirStrip has announced distribution agreements with partners in the U.S., Europe, Africa, Australia, and New Zealand. It is further targeting China and the Netherlands.

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