San Diego is one of the first regions to deliver medical specimens via drones

Blood samples delivered by drone? Medical specimens via drones may soon become a reality thanks to a new partnership between UPS Flight Forward and Matternet, in conjunction with UC San Diego Health.

Drone on black stand at UC San DIego in front of large building

Medical specimens take flight

Last week, the first medical specimens were delivered by drone as part of a larger effort to integrate drones into San Diego’s airspace as part of the Integration Pilot Program. UC San Diego Health will be utilizing UAS as a means to deliver medical specimens and supplies to expedite health care services. It has become common practice for labs to operate separately from a hospital. This new partnership may mean faster diagnosis, treatment, or even peace of mind.

“Right now, most biological samples must travel between sites by courier car, within designated hours,” said James Killeen, MD, clinical professor of emergency medicine and director of information technology services at UC San Diego School of Medicine in UC San Diego’s announcement. “That leaves the system vulnerable to the vagaries of road congestion, accidents, construction, and more. Travel time can be slow and unpredictable. A drone can fly over such obstacles in a much more direct way, and take just a few minutes to cover the same distance.”
If successful, drones may even be used for organ transport in the future.

Why San Diego is creating a drone hub

According to the FAA Aerospace Forecast and Drone Analytics, the global drone industry is projected to be worth $43 billion by 2024. As a region, San Diego has made a name for itself by capitalizing on nascent technologies that turn into major economic engines – think genomics and ICT/satellite technology.

That’s why in 2017, EDC – in collaboration with the City of San Diego – spearheaded San Diego’s application to serve as a site for the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Integration Pilot Program (IPP). San Diego as one of 10 jurisdictions that received the designation and the densest urban environment selected.

Today, EDC serves a much larger role as the program manager through an agreement with the City of San Diego. In addition to streamlining the process and clearing regulatory hurdles for operators (think companies like Matternet), the IPP also looks to position San Diego as a UAS center of excellence by encouraging the growth of the industry and building homegrown talent.

To achieve these goals, the IPP has four focus areas (International Relations, Environmental Survey, Public Safety, and Package Delivery), and boasts over 20 private, non-profit, government partners.

How the IPP launched SD’s first medical specimen flight

On  February 25, the FAA officially approved the UC San Diego Health flight route that enabled Matternet, as the UAS operator, to carry out this mission until April 2023. UC San Diego is the second hospital system in the nation to transport medical specimens via drones.

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Two years after expanding to San Diego, Canadian company enters clinical trials with drug to treat metastatic breast cancer

 5 business leaders in front of PMD sign to celebrate their expansion
Phoenix Molecular Designs announces expansion to SD in June 2017

In June 2017, Phoenix Molecular Designs(PMD), a Canadian biotech company working on a breast cancer therapy, announced it was expanding to San Diego during World Trade Center San Diego’s Trade Mission to Vancouver. Over two years later, PMD- which now has an outpost at JLabs – is now one step closer to bringing its life-saving treatment to market. And it’s happening because of PMD’s clinical work in San Diego.

Phoenix Molecular Designs’ therapy is developed to treat triple-negative breast cancer. This aggressive form of cancer is often likely to become metastatic, and has a poorer prognosis than other forms of breast cancer. In 2019, nearly 270,000 individuals will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the US alone. Up to 20 percent of those new cases – over 50,000 – are estimated to be the triple-negative type.

But thanks to PMD, there’s a new form of hope.

The company has officially entered Phase 1/1b clinical trials for PMD-026 with the FDA, meaning they are able to administer the drugs to their first patients.

“Dosing the first patient in this newly initiated clinical trial is a paramount milestone for PhoenixMD,” said Andrew Dorr, M.D., chief medical officer of Phoenix Molecular Designs. “We believe PMD-026 to be a promising new approach to treat advanced breast cancer and we look forward to building upon this momentum in the pursuit of a potential treatment option for individuals living with advanced forms of breast cancer.”

International partnerships take time

When World Trade Center San Diego – EDC’s international affiliate – set its sights on Vancouver in 2017 for its first international trade mission, it was in hopes of spurring international partnerships in the life sciences and clean technologies sectors.

WTCSD first met Dr. Sandra Dunn, CEO of Phoenix Molecular Designs, when the international BIO convention was in town in 2017. After a quick conversation, it was clear that in order to meet their lofty goal of bringing a treatment to market, Phoenix Molecular Designs needed to expand somewhere in the U.S. with a strong biotech sector and access to top-tier clinical talent.

A few weeks later, City of San Diego Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer, World Trade Center San Diego, and a delegation of 20 senior-level San Diego leaders were in PMD’s board room in Richmond – right outside of Vancouver – helping the company plan its expansion.

Today, PMD’s presence has grown to nearly 15 employees in San Diego and with the latest funding round, may see additional growth. And its engaged other companies along the way. PMD has partnered with WuXi STA, another international company with a presence in San Diego, to develop and manufacture PMD-026.

At a time of mounting global uncertainty, it is important that San Diego continues to show up in international markets and forge partnerships. The next life-saving treatment is out there, and if San Diego’s regional track record is any indication, we may play a part in bringing it to the world.

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Global device manufacturing company explores San Diego as its new home

Sysmex Corporation, a global medical device manufacturing company with its HQ in Kobe, Japan, was looking to enlarge their US-based presence.

With San Diego as a target destination for expansion, Sysmex contacted EDC with details on the company’s plans to expand its life science operations by leveraging proprietary technologies to create new testing and diagnostic technologies that help provide optimal healthcare for all. Sysmex distributes and supports automated in vitro diagnostic hematology, coagulation and urinalysis analyzers, reagents and information systems for laboratories and healthcare facilities throughout the Western Hemisphere.

The company was interested in piloting their US presence with a research and development lab staffed with ten initial full-time employees. EDC provided a list of properties using a site selection database that met Sysmex’s requirements for location characteristics. In order to coordinate site logistic tours and provide Sysmex additional market perspectives on the potential locations, EDC leveraged its connections with CBRE’s research team. CBRE was able to conduct a tour with Sysmex on nine different locations across the region.

Sysmex is now in the process of finalizing their internal budget by mid-October, in order to establish their research and development site by December of this year. The Sysmex team is very positive regarding San Diego and establishing a future here.

Providing incentive consulting to Cubic Corporation

Cubic Corporation

Serving the defense and transportation industries, Cubic Corporation is a global company with clients on nearly every continent. The company has called Kearny Mesa home for 50 years, currently based in an aging set of buildings that have not kept pace with the company’s. Its facilities were divided onto two major campuses in the Kearny Mesa area, creating a lack of cohesion among its business units.

With competition for tech talent at an all-time high, Cubic’s leadership was concerned its outdated facilities would discourage potential hires. Cubic needed to modernize and redevelop its campus to help attract talent, while also providing adequate facilities for the next 50 years. Despite its long history as a San Diego company, Cubic was experiencing pressure to build its headquarters in a lower-cost state such Tennessee, Alabama, orFlorida, where Cubic had other growing operations. As a result, EDC worked hand-in-hand with Cubic’s team to secure the necessary incentives to keep San Diego a competitive option, despite pressure to relocate its facilities out-of-state.

Utilizing both state and local programs, EDC was able to leverage its expertise in incentives consulting in order to help this 50-year-old staple company stay in California. EDC developed a strategy to capture a number of incentive programs, which offset the cost of rebuilding its headquarters in San Diego. Additionally, EDC worked as an intermediary to both the City and State departments on behalf of cubic to ensure processes were staying on track and that the campus redevelopment was seen as a priority by all parties.

Cubic secured a CalCompetes Tax Credit worth $8.5 million. Locally, Cubic was able to secure expedited processes through the City of San Diego, in addition to a Business Incentive Program and Business Cooperation Program award. In total, the incentives and expedited processes provided gave Cubic the necessary offsets and timeline confidence to commit to redeveloping its Kearny Mesa headquarters, and keeping San Diego as its home for decades to follow.

ABOUT CUBIC CORPORATION: Cubic is an American public corporation providing diversified systems and services to the transportation and defense markets worldwide. Cubic Corporation is the parent company of three major divisions: Cubic Transportation Systems, Cubic Mission Solutions and Cubic Global Defense. cubic.com

Telaeris capitalizes on trade mission with WTC and Port of SD

Port of Toulon

MetroConnect company Telaeris is a privately-owned San Diego company that develops RFIDs (Radio Frequency Identification) and contactless smartcards for businesses. RFIDs and its related products are important contemporary solutions for the efficient management of inventory and assets. RFIDs are also important in tracking the flow of people, as it is one of the basic technologies that make a security badge function.

In September of 2018, Telaeris was selected to be one of 20 participating companies in World Trade Center (WTC) San Diego’s MetroConnect export assistance program. The company received a $10K grant, courtesy of JPMorgan Chase, as well as programmatic support in order to access international markets and boost export sales. Programmatic support included educational workshops, marketing and PR support, and access to preferred rates and discounts with airline and industry partners.

At the beginning of the 2018 program, WTC’s team connected Telaeris to MetroConnect sponsor SYSTRAN, to provide complimentary translation services for the nearly 100,000 lines of code the company needed modified.  Once the company had taken the SYSTRAN software as far as it could go, Telaeris used its $10k in grant funds to pay for expert human translators in Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, and more, to polish the code to ready it for market.

In April, the company attended a trade mission to the South of France with the Port of San Diego and WTC San Diego. There, the company was able to market its localized product to French electronic tracking company Coppernic. As a result, Telaeris was able to ink a deal and have eight Coppernic employees (six in Europe; two in Africa) trained to sell Telaeris’ enterprise technology, thereby expanding its sales capability to regions where it had never had a presence before. Additionally, this relationship has led to two potential deals (currently in the works) worth $25K each.

“The MetroConnect program, presented by JPMorgan Chase, has been an amazing catalyst to super-charge the way our company approaches international business development. Our company has been around for 14 years, but with the tools and resources provided through MetroConnect, we are now on track to target many large markets that make up the majority of the world that does not speak English. Capitalizing on these opportunities makes us a more resilient and prosperous company back home.”

– David Carta, CEO & President at Telaeris

WTCSD connects environmentally-conscious Japanese company with San Diego ecosystem

World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD) works to connect San Diego to global resources. Before a company sets up a location in San Diego, it needs customers. That’s where WTCSD comes in.

Recognizing San Diego’s role as a cleantech’s hub and the region’s forward-thinking adoption of green policies, in January, a Japanese-maker of alternative paper and plastic products reached out to World Trade Center San Diego. Not only was the firm interested in potential customers that might need its product, but they were also looking to cultivate relationships with local manufacturers.

Through WTCSD’s MetroConnect participants and other regional partners, WTCSD was able to compile a list of potential leads and provided curated introductions to hoteliers and retailers in San Diego with a track record of progressive climate action. On the manufacturing end, EDC also was able to connect the company with contract manufacturers in the San Diego region, which lays the foundation for the Japanese-based company to make a future investment in San Diego.