San Diego small businesses pitch for Dutch investment as part of mayoral trade mission

Trabus Technologies and Nano PharmaSolutions join delegation to Netherlands to drive local growth

This week, as part of Mayor Todd Gloria’s trade mission to the Netherlands, coordinated by World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD), an affiliate of EDC, San Diego small businesses pitched their technology solutions to potential international partners and investors. Trabus Technologies (TRABUS) and Nano PharmaSolutions, both San Diego-based, minority-owned small businesses, joined this three-day trip to establish business relationships, pursue investment, and grow local jobs.

San Diego is the birthplace of many successful large, multinational companies, including Qualcomm who is represented in the delegation as well. However, small businesses—those with fewer than 100 employees—are the backbone of the regional economy and drive regional economic growth and innovation. Small businesses employ more than 60 percent of San Diego County’s workforce, nearly double the national average, and represent nearly 98 percent of the region’s firms. Yet small companies face outsize barriers to international expansion.

“Having an economy driven by small, innovative companies has been great for San Diego, and we want to support their expansion into overseas markets so they can stay strong and competitive in their industries,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. “This trade mission gives us the chance to lay that groundwork for small businesses that face headwinds overseas.”

In order to drive economic resilience, Mayor Todd Gloria and WTCSD have prioritized small businesses as part of the Netherlands trade mission. TRABUS and Nano PharmaSolutions—both innovative, minority-owned small businesses involved in WTCSD’s export accelerator program MetroConnect—pitched to the Port of Rotterdam and investors at the Leiden Bio Science Park respectively:

  • TRABUS and Port of Rotterdam: TRABUS is a service-disabled, veteran- and minority-owned small business providing innovative solutions to the U.S. government and private sector. The 50-person TRABUS team specializes in the development of technology across five major portfolios—wireless technologies, artificial intelligence and data science, maritime transportation, environmental informatics and cybersecurity. To be spotlighted in its pitch to the European port, TRABUS has developed the first AI-based voyage planning software, RippleGo, for the inland waterways. While the SaaS product is currently being tested on U.S. waterways, RippleGo could have tremendous potential to enhance voyage planning and supply chain logistics on EU based waterways for greater economic efficiencies.

 “We are excited about the potential partnerships and opportunities to work with the European maritime industry. The EU has an impressive, interconnected waterway network already. We hope to learn more about their network and offer up some of our technologies that can aid in waterway management and intermodal supply chain logistics,” said Art Salindong, Managing Director, TRABUS.

  • Nano PharmaSolutions (NPS) and Leiden Bio Science Park: A platform technology startup for nanodrug delivery of small molecule drugs, NPS offers improved solubility and convenient dosage form development. Founded in 2019, the company is seeking Seed and early-stage VC investment, with plans to expand into the European market and access increased pharmaceutical customers in the years ahead. NPS plans to co-manufacture clinical trial materials for their customers at Mikart Pharmaceutical, a contract manufacturing organization in Atlanta, GA, beginning Q3 2023. Mikart is a commercial scale oral dosage form company, which can support NanoTransformer™ nano-granulation and downstream dosage form manufacturing and QC activities.

“Not only does our NanoTransformer™ technology expedite drug development at a lower R&D cost, but it helps drugs absorb into the body more quickly and efficiently” said Dr. Kay Olmstead, Founder & CEO, NPS. “This is an incredible opportunity to share our story and build partnerships at the famous Leiden Bio Science Park, and we’re excited about what’s to come.”

With the right partners, small companies that solve important problems—like TRABUS and Nano PharmaSolutions—become big companies that change the world. That has always been San Diego’s story, and it is why we work so hard to open doors for innovators and entrepreneurs both overseas and back at home,” said Nikia Clarke, executive director of WTCSD and SVP, EDC.

This session is one of a dozen meetings and programs on the three-day trade mission to the Netherlands, September 26—29, 2022. See a summary of the trip here and follow along for more: #SDinNL

Learn more on SD and NL

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.

 

MetroConnect VI: Meet the Consumer Goods companies

This February alongside San Diego Councilmember Raul Campillo and program underwriters JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Procopio, World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD) welcomed the sixth cohort of San Diego companies to its MetroConnect export accelerator.

Since the program’s debut in 2015, the 80 small- and medium-sized (SMEs) companies in MetroConnect have collectively added 269 new regional jobs, signed more than 543 new contracts, and set up 22 new overseas facilities. On average, cohort companies grow their exports by an average 63 percent and revenues by 40 percent as part of the program. Notable alumni include Blue Sky Network, Aira (acquired by Blue Diego Investment Group), Scientist.com, Modern Times, Dr. Bronner’s, Cypher Genomics (acquired by Human Longevity Inc.), Planck Aerosystems, Bitchin’ Sauce, White Labs, and dozens more.

Now, WTCSD is pleased to welcome the newest group of MetroConnect companies representing the diversity of San Diego’s innovation economy. Below, meet the Consumer Goods companies:

Access Trax

  • Location: La Mesa, CA
  • About: Access Trax is a women-owned social impact business on a mission to make the outdoors accessible for all. The company empowers people of all physical abilities to easily access outdoor terrain such as sand at the beach with their ADA compliant portable access mats.
  • Hopes for program: Create strategic export plan, glean insight on export logistics, identify international buyers

Critter Technology

  • Location: San Diego, CA
  • About: Critter Technology specializes in the development, manufacture, and commercialization of specialized coatings with unique functionality. Its marquee product AntCant is an easy to apply coating that produces a surface that ants and potentially other insects cannot adhere to and gain traction.
  • Hopes for program: Navigate international liability insurance, understand tax law in foreign markets and how to export goods classified as hazardous materials

Golden Coast Mead

  • Location: Oceanside, CA
  • About: As the first meadery in Southern California, the company leads the reawakening of Fermented Honey Libations. Golden Coast Mead has helped launch over 20 different meaderies, including ones in Africa and Jamaica, to aid in remote communities’ ability to create jobs and economies.
  • Hopes for program: Find effective channel partners

Real Dog Box

  • Location: National City, CA
  • About: Real Dog Box complements any diet and any budget and teaches pet owners how to incorporate fresh food into their dog’s lifestyle. A few dollars a day spent on real food can prevent six out of the 10 most common dog vet visits – that’s why the company makes and delivers a monthly box of fresh dog treats and chews to prevent food-related illnesses.
  • Hopes for program: Form relationships with partners in target markets

Shop My Porch

  • Location: Poway, CA
  • About: Shop My Porch is a social shopping platform – including a mobile app, website, and series of social media groups – that matches home-based artisans with people looking for home crafted goods on a hyperlocal basis. The Shop My Porch platform not only allows makers to post goods for pickup, home delivery, or shipping but also allows shoppers to request custom products.
  • Hopes for program: Understand tax law in foreign markets, language translation, develop an action for target markets

Target markets for the MetroConnect VI cohort

The map below outlines countries that the sixth cohort is pursuing through their export strategy.

Next up for MetroConnect VI

The cohort will gain access to a suite of resources to support expansion into international markets, including executive workshops, flight discounts, language translation, and up to $30,000 in grant funding.

“Programs like MetroConnect help ensure the world knows just what San Diego is made of—innovative, high-impact products and services across a wide range of industries,” said San Diego City Councilmember Raul Campillo. “I’m proud to support and welcome WTCSD’s new cohort, and look forward to seeing the companies’ impact on a global scale.”

Interested in growing your business internationally?

World Trade Center San Diego works directly with companies – free of charge – to help them expand internationally and grow in San Diego. Whether your small company is interested in learning about exporting and international growth, or your SME is ready to export and grow internationally, WTCSD is here to help.

Ready to get involved? Click here to receive our quarterly Global Brief Newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox.

 

MetroConnect VI: Meet the Tech companies

This February alongside San Diego Councilmember Raul Campillo and program underwriters JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Procopio, World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD) welcomed the sixth cohort of San Diego companies to its MetroConnect export accelerator.

Since the program’s debut in 2015, the 80 small- and medium-sized (SMEs) companies in MetroConnect have collectively added 269 new regional jobs, signed more than 543 new contracts, and set up 22 new overseas facilities. On average, cohort companies grow their exports by an average 63 percent and revenues by 40 percent as part of the program. Notable alumni include Blue Sky Network, Aira (acquired by Blue Diego Investment Group), Scientist.com, Modern Times, Dr. Bronner’s, Cypher Genomics (acquired by Human Longevity Inc.), Planck Aerosystems, Bitchin’ Sauce, White Labs, and dozens more.

Now, WTCSD is pleased to welcome the newest group of MetroConnect companies representing the diversity of San Diego’s innovation economy. Below, meet the Tech companies:

Benchmark Labs

  • Location: San Diego, CA
  • About: Benchmark Labs is a Techstars-backed agricultural and IoT technology company that uses IoT sensors to assist farmers in implementing more sustainable practices and help them save natural resources by using in-situ environmental forecasts.
  • Hopes for program: Target market research, e-commerce strategy

GigaIO

  • Location: Carlsbad, CA
  • About: GigaIO democratizes Artificial Intelligence and High-Performance Computing architectures by delivering the elasticity of the cloud at a fraction of the price.
  • Hopes for program: Identify distribution partners in target markets, create strategic export plan

Primo Energy

  • Location: San Diego, CA
  • About: Primo Energy was founded in 2013 to design and build hybrid distributed energy platforms using wind, solar, and battery storage. Distributed power can provide energy for remote locations, island territories, disaster relief, and back up power, and urban areas that have no power available. The company has installations across the globe, from the Bahamas to the Arctic and from California to Spain.
  • Hopes for program: Identify distribution partners in target markets, create strategic export plan

The Good Face

  • Location: La Jolla, CA
  • About: The Good Face enables companies to formulate, create, launch, and grow demand for transparent, compliant, and competitive products. Its platform features the fastest growing formulation and regulatory compliance SaaS solution, Good Face Formulator, which is used in R&D and catalog management by brands, manufacturers, and retailers in personal care and cosmetics. The Good Face Formulator has been adopted globally (France, Switzerland, UK, Canada, USA, Brazil, Philippines, S. Korea, Japan, China, Australia) and its customers include industry leaders such as L’Oreal, Target (Private Label), Grove Collaborative, JC Penney, and KDC-One.
  • Hopes for program: Determine target markets, identify effective channel partners

Trabus Technologies

  • Location: San Diego, CA
  • About: Trabus is a minority-owned, service-disabled veteran-owned small business (SDVOSB) with portfolios including Wireless Technologies, AI & Data Science, Cybersecurity, Maritime Transportation, and Environmental Informatics.
  • Hopes for program: Identify effective channel partners, adapt products for international markets

 

 

Next up for MetroConnect VI

The cohort will gain access to a suite of resources to support expansion into international markets, including executive workshops, flight discounts, language translation, and up to $30,000 in grant funding.

“Programs like MetroConnect help ensure the world knows just what San Diego is made of—innovative, high-impact products and services across a wide range of industries,” said San Diego City Councilmember Raul Campillo. “I’m proud to support and welcome WTCSD’s new cohort, and look forward to seeing the companies’ impact on a global scale.”

Interested in growing your business internationally?

World Trade Center San Diego works directly with companies – free of charge – to help them expand internationally and grow in San Diego. Whether your small company is interested in learning about exporting and international growth, or your SME is ready to export and grow internationally, WTCSD is here to help.

Ready to get involved? Click here to receive our quarterly Global Brief Newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox.

 

MetroConnect VI: Meet the Life Sciences companies

World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD)’s MetroConnect awards companies with matching funds, connects them with relevant export-oriented partners and resources, and arranges specialized workshops to increase their knowledge and awareness of global export trends and regulations.

Since the program’s debut in 2015, the 80 small- and medium-sized MetroConnect companies have collectively added 269 new regional jobs, signed more than 543 new contracts, and set up 22 new overseas facilities. Notable alumni include Scientist.com, Dr. Bronner’s, Cypher Genomics (acquired by Human Longevity Inc.), Planck Aerosystems, White Labs, and more.

Now, WTCSD is pleased to welcome the newest group of MetroConnect companies representing the diversity of San Diego’s innovation economy. Below, meet the Life Sciences companies:

Meet the four Life Sciences companies going global with MetroConnect:

 Nano PharmaSolutions

  • Location: San Diego, CA
  • Description: Nano PharmaSolutions’ NanoTransformer™ technology turns insoluble drug molecules to nanoparticles so they can be more effectively absorbed.
  • Key bottlenecks: Building out international marketing plan, outreach to identify prospects

Sparsha Pharma USA

  • Location: Oceanside, CA
  • Description: Sparsha Pharma, a pharmaceutical manufacturing company, creates transdermal drug delivery system and orally dissolved film products.
  • Key bottlenecks: Understanding regulatory landscape in target markets. Identify partners and distributors

 iAssay

  • Location: San Diego, CA
  • Description: iAssay®’s Point-of-Care Test (POCT) diagnostics solution tests patients wherever they are. Multi-tech/format POCT cartridges commercialized by hundreds of companies are used with iAssay® designed adaptors. Its AWS Cloud validates devices before testing can start, captures raw data, and offers time/date stamped results available through internet portals.
  • Key bottlenecks: Building out international marketing plan, outreach to identify prospects

Solecta

  • Location: Oceanside, CA
  • Description: As manufacturers deal with variable raw material quality, rising costs for energy, and increased quality standards for their finished products, Solecta helps improve separations processes through membrane solutions like microfiltration, ultrafiltration, nanofiltration, and reverse osmosis filtration products.
  • Key bottlenecks: Effective outreach to potential clients, targeted market research, local language barriers, understanding of local regulatory requirements

 

 

What’s next?

The 15 MetroConnect VI companies will gain access to a suite of resources to support expansion into international markets, including executive workshops, flight discounts, language translation, and up to $30,000 in grant funding.

“Programs like MetroConnect help ensure the world knows just what San Diego is made of—innovative, high-impact products and services across a wide range of industries,” said San Diego City Councilmember Raul Campillo. “I’m proud to support and welcome WTCSD’s new cohort, and look forward to seeing the companies’ impact on a global scale.”

Interested in growing your business internationally?

World Trade Center San Diego works directly with companies – free of charge – to help them expand internationally and grow in San Diego. Whether your small company is interested in learning about exporting and international growth, or your SME is ready to export and grow internationally, WTCSD is here to help.

Ready to get involved? Click here to receive our quarterly Global Brief Newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox.

 

Meet the MetroConnect VI companies!

Add these to your ‘companies to watch’ list…

Together with San Diego Councilmember Raul Campillo and program underwriters JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Procopio, World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD) welcomed its sixth cohort of San Diego companies in its MetroConnect export accelerator.

Since the program’s debut in 2015, the 80 small- and medium-sized (SMEs) companies in MetroConnect have collectively added 269 new regional jobs, signed more than 543 new contracts, and set up 22 new overseas facilities. On average, cohort companies grow their exports by an average 63 percent and revenues by 40 percent as part of the program. Notable alums include Blue Sky Network, Aira (acquired by Blue Diego Investment Group), Scientist.com, Modern Times, Dr. Bronner’s, Cypher Genomics (acquired by Human Longevity Inc.), Planck Aerosystems, Bitchin’ Sauce, and dozens more.

Now, WTCSD is pleased to welcome the newest set of MetroConnect companies representing the diversity of San Diego’s innovation economy.

Meet the MetroConnect VI companies

  1. Access Trax
  2. Benchmark Labs
  3. Critter Technology
  4. GigaIO
  5. Golden Coast Mead
  6. iAssay
  7. Nano PharmaSolutions
  8. Novo Brazil Brewing
  9. Primo Energy
  10. Real Dog Box
  11. Shop My Porch
  12. Solecta
  13. Sparsha Pharma USA
  14. The Good Face
  15. Trabus Technologies

Learn more about the companies here

In a competitive application process, MetroConnect judges from Biocom, Connect, CMTC, U.S. Commercial Service, Procopio, and Mitsubishi Electric selected the sixth cohort based on interest in new markets, interest in targeted metro markets, assessed impact of funds, current international traction, and more.

“I’m proud to support and welcome WTCSD’s new cohort, and look forward to seeing the companies’ impact on a global scale,” said San Diego City Councilmember Raul Campillo. “Programs like MetroConnect help ensure the world knows just what San Diego is made of—innovative, high-impact products and services across a wide range of industries.”

Why go global?

Against the backdrop of pandemic-driven supply chain disruption and small business closures, it is more important than ever to support SMEs in building resilience by going global.

In 2021 alone, San Diego exported more than $22 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 importance of programs like MetroConnect.

“As the San Diego economy continues to recover from the pandemic, we are optimistic about the future. We’re seeing the return of international flights to key markets; firms settled into their remote and tech-centered environments; and strong job growth across sectors,” said Nikia Clarke, executive director of WTCSD. “Thanks to JPMorgan Chase and Procopio, the MetroConnect program will continue to build on this momentum and help ensure San Diego’s small and mid-sized businesses have the tools needed to weather future economic downturns, grow quality jobs, and share San Diego’s life-changing innovation with the world.”

Next up for MetroConnect VI

The cohort will gain access to a suite of resources to support expansion into international markets, including executive workshops, flight discounts, language translation, and up to $30,000 in grant funding.

“Since its launch, the City of San Diego has been a proud supporter of MetroConnect and the nearly 100 businesses it has helped grow internationally,” said San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. “As Mayor, I’m committed to supporting San Diego’s small businesses on our road to recovery; and international connectivity is an important tool in building economic resilience.”

Interested in growing your business internationally?

World Trade Center San Diego works directly with companies – free of charge – to help them expand internationally and grow in San Diego. Whether your small company is interested in learning about exporting and international growth, or your SME is ready to export and grow internationally, WTCSD is here to help.

Ready to get involved? Click here to receive our monthly Global Brief Newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox.

2021: World Trade Center San Diego supports 50 businesses as region works toward recovery

15

companies supported

850

jobs supported

$10 M

net export increase, 2021

World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD), an affiliate of San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC), cultivates a pipeline of export-ready firms, maximizes foreign direct investment (FDI) opportunities, and enhances San Diego’s global identity. A globally-connected economy creates quality jobs and makes the San Diego region more prosperous, competitive, and resilient – especially crucial amid COVID-19 and its aftershocks.

As we look toward 2022, here are four key ways WTCSD helped make San Diego a more globally competitive, resilient region:

1. MetroConnect V helps companies go global, awards fifth winner

2021 was an exciting year for WTCSD’s MetroConnect export accelerator program as the fifth cohort of incredible small to mid-sized San Diego companies wrapped up participation in the program.

These companies received $5,000 grants to bolster their export initiatives and international expansion efforts. Amid a pandemic, companies needed more digital support services than ever to help navigate growing e-commerce needs during the pandemic. To support, WTCSD held a Digital Trade Series, which assessed each client’s needs and arranged one-on-one counseling sessions with contracted e-commerce experts.

Over the course of the program, one company stood out – with MetroConnect’s support, satellite-based communications and fleet management company Blue Sky Network generated a 36 percent increase in monthly recurring revenue in Brazil, as well as its largest order to date. To support this growth, the company hired seven new full-time employees. Ultimately, WTCSD crowned Blue Sky Network MetroConnect V’s winner and awarded it a $25,000 grant toward its international expansion goals.

Over the past five years of MetroConnect, 80 companies collectively leveraged $890,000 in export grants, resulting in a $95 million net increase in exports from the San Diego region.

2. WTCSD debuts a regional trade and investment strategy for 2025

In 2015, San Diego Regional EDC’s release of “Go Global: San Diego’s Trade and Investment Initiative,” launched the World Trade Center in San Diego, bringing regional companies and stakeholders together with a global vision. Throughout 2020 and early 2021, WTC engaged many of the same partners, and new ones, in an effort to gauge how the region measured up to it, more than five years later. This 2021 update analyzed the state of exports, foreign investment and VC, as well as the extraordinary impact of COVID. Through rigorous data analysis dozens of interviews with public and private-sector leaders, WTC synthesized a set of five key priorities the region should focus on over the next five years. Find out what they are here. Key findings include:

  • 2020 saw $3 billion in foreign investment into San Diego
  • 73 percent of investment into San Diego is in Life Sciences
  • San Diego exports $22 billion in goods each year
  • San Diego is a top 10 services exporter among U.S. metros

Heading into 2022, we expect to see FDI investment portfolios return to the same levels seen in 2019.

3. Export Small Business Development Center (SBDC) supports export and COVID-relief projects

Beyond MetroConnect, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at WTCSD provided 35 export-ready small companies with the support needed to navigate international goals, including exports, manufacturing support, and more.

In addition to expansion support, the Export Specialty Center continued to offer COVID-19 recovery resources at no cost, helping San Diego companies like Funki Adventures apply to Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) 2nd Draw, Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, and City and County small business grants.

Finally, the Global Readiness Program saw a partnership between WTCSD and the University of San Diego help local small to mid-sized businesses secure STEP grants to grow the regional export pipeline.

4. WTCSD serves as a key source of market intelligence

WTCSD conducted a series of business surveys to better inform decision making of regional partners and affiliates. These included:

Corporate Travel Survey:

  • Survey of 12 large businesses and two non-profits in the region to better understand travel and budgets forecasts for the year ahead. This information was critical for the retention of existing service out of SAN and for the attraction of future direct flights. It found:
    • 79 percent of respondents are willing to pay a premium to fly on a San Diego nonstop route versus flying out from Tijuana or Los Angeles
    • 56 percent of respondents expressed a desire for nonstop service to Mexico City and Sao Paulo

EDC Changing Business Landscape Survey:

  • Survey of more than 100 business in the San Diego region, aimed at informing long-term development priorities, across business areas. It found:
    • 14 percent of respondents currently import and/or export out of the Port of San Diego
    • 24 percent of those surveyed would be interested in using the Port of San Diego if they provided service to the types of goods they ship

READ THE FULL REPORT

Interested in growing your business internationally?

World Trade Center San Diego works directly with companies – free of charge – to help them expand internationally and grow in San Diego. Whether your small company is interested in learning about exporting and international growth, or your small or medium-sized company is ready to export and grow internationally, World Trade Center San Diego is here to help.

Ready to export? Apply to MetroConnect VI by December 17.

Want to know more about WTCSD? Click here to receive our monthly Global Brief Newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox.

Blue Sky Network wins $25K MetroConnect V export grand prize

World Trade Center San Diego and nearly 250 voting audience award $25K for international expansion

World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD) named Blue Sky Network, which provides satellite-based communications and fleet management solutions for aviation, maritime, and IoT customers, as the winner of the MetroConnect export accelerator program, now in its fifth year. Made possible through a grant from JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Procopio, Blue Sky Network will use the $25,000 award to expand its presence in Brazil and promote the launch of its new SkyLink product in global markets.

“Blue Sky Network is the perfect reflection of San Diego’s innovation economy coming together, leveraging our excellence in defense and technology now on an international stage,” said Lucas Coleman, senior manager at WTCSD. “The results from MetroConnect’s fifth cohort are impressive. Whether it’s alleviating supply chain processes in Australia or cultivating leads in Korea, Brazil and the UK amid incredible economic uncertainty, working to connect small and medium-sized businesses to international markets builds greater resilience here at home.”

Blue Sky Network beat out three other finalists in MetroConnect V: White Labs, Inc., SIDUS Solutions, and Mayan Robotics. The grand prize-winning company was decided by a 250-person voting audience via virtual events platform Whova, a former MetroConnect participant. Prior to this, a committee of senior international business leaders in San Diego helped the WTCSD team nominate these top four performers out of the initial 15-company cohort.

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

In its first five years, MetroConnect has helped 80 local, small and mid-sized businesses generate a net increase of $95 million in international sales, 543 international contracts, and 22 overseas facilities. This international growth has coincided with 269 new hires here in the San Diego region.

Each cohort year, WTCSD selects 15 export-ready small and mid-sized businesses to receive $5,000 export grants, access to executive workshops, translation software, discounted international airfare, and a chance to win a $25,000 grand prize to aid in further international market expansion. Applications for year six of the MetroConnect program are now open through December 17. Interested small- and medium-sized companies that are looking to pursue international sales as a near-term priority or already exporting its goods or services may apply here.

Apply by Dec 17

GLOBAL CONNECTION TO BOOST RESILIENCE

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the national rhetoric around global trade has shifted. According to The World Bank, countries that trade internationally enjoy more economic growth, are more innovative and productive, and can provide more opportunities to citizens. San Diego is no exception—regional small businesses that export tend to have a larger and more diversified customer base, pick up best practices from global competitors, build up economies of scale, and ultimately pay their employees more. Access to international customers and markets is essential in helping San Diego’s business community recover after the COVID-19 pandemic, as small businesses employ 60 percent of San Diegans.

“We’ve successfully navigated an incredibly challenging global environment over the past year and a half and the MetroConnect program has helped exceed our international sales targets,” said Gregoire Demory, president at Blue Sky Network, MetroConnect V grand prize winner. “We look forward to using MetroConnect’s additional funding to keep promoting the Blue Sky Network brand and our new SkyLink product overseas.”

“Since 2015, JPMorgan Chase has been proud to support MetroConnect, helping San Diego businesses successfully navigate complex global markets and create new local opportunities,” said Aaron Ryan, Executive Director for San Diego Middle Market Banking at JPMorgan Chase. “San Diego is one of the best places for innovation, and we are excited to help these businesses maximize our region’s international potential.”

WTCSD hosted its MetroConnect Grand Prize PitchFest virtually on November 15, with keynote remarks by MetroConnect underwriters Dennis Doucette, Partner at Procopio, and Aaron Ryan, Executive Director for San Diego Middle Market Banking at JPMorgan Chase.

READY TO TAKE YOUR BUSINESS GLOBAL?

WTCSD has year-round, non-exclusive international opportunities that help companies break expand internationally, such as the Export Specialty SBDC and strategy for global engagement. To learn about more WTCSD initiatives, events, and programs, visit WTCSD.org.

Is my company ready to export?

As your company grows, you may one day find yourself receiving an order from a customer in another country – whether that’s from just across the border in Mexico, or across the ocean in Japan.

This will probably spark a series of questions: Is my company ready to export? How much will it cost? What are the regulations around shipping my product globally? Is exporting even worth it?

Exporting can be tremendously beneficial. It diversifies your customer base and exposes your goods and services to new markets, which may derive more value from your product than here in the U.S. Exporters also tend to be stronger and more resilient companies back home.

And while exporting comes with its own set of challenges and complexities, programs like World Trade Center San Diego’s MetroConnect are here to help small and medium-sized businesses access funding and resources to begin selling overseas. Apply to MetroConnect by December 17.

Is your company ready to export? Here are three factors to consider:

1. Do I have the financial resources to break into a new market?

Breaking into a new market isn’t cheap. In the same way introducing your product or service to a domestic market requires thoughtful strategy and investment, expanding internationally means you need to invest in promoting your product, through the right channels and utilizing the right tools.

But unlike domestic channels, you may need to make additional modifications for your product or service to get approval – whether via translation, new market research, or regulatory costs. There will also be additional costs with getting your products to customers that are geographically farther away, as well as tariffs and non-tariff barriers to consider.

Finally, the global marketplace is highly competitive – and competing by offering the lowest price is often not possible for San Diego-based companies. Instead, a deep understanding of your value proposition and a readiness to devote the necessary resources to amplifying your message in the right places can set you up for success.

Bottom line: If you’re ready to devote financial resources toward international expansion, your company may want to explore an export strategy.

2. Do I have people on my team who can devote the time, effort, and expertise exporting requires?

Developing the right relationships with suppliers, distributors, customers, and investors in each market takes time and consistency. This, as well as familiarizing yourself with the unique cultural preferences and market dynamics of the country or region you’re trying to break into, will require time, staffing resources, and often international travel.

Hiring people with the right technical knowledge of your industry segment in your target market or having the bandwidth to dedicate your team’s existing expertise will often be critical to your success. But if your team is already taxed to its limit, you are unable to hire for your team’s unmet expertise needs, or you plan to treat exporting as a side project, you may find sustained volume and exporting success hard to come by.

Bottom line: If you can devote staff time, resources, and expertise toward expansion, you may be ready to export.

3. Has my company had domestic success?

In most cases, the U.S. market will be your first consideration for expansion. You’ll know the language and culture, skip the trade barriers, take advantage of well-established institutions, and generally face less financial and political risk. As a U.S. company, too, you’re probably more familiar with your industry’s specific ecosystem. 

So take advantage of the domestic market first, if possible. Domestic success can be a method to estimate your international potential…and whether you should be expanding internationally to begin with. And swimming in the domestic market will help you fully understand what truly differentiates your product or service, with no currency or other major financial risk.

But if you’ve enjoyed domestic success or a specific international market can help take your business to the next level, expanding your customer base overseas can give you a competitive edge in some key ways:

  • You’ll leverage economies of scale, where more order flow can lower your production cost
  • You’ll diversify your revenue streams. COVID-19 taught us that different markets can be impacted by significant global shocks in different ways, at different times.
  • You can learn from international competitors and partners, and apply these new tactics internationally and here at home.
  • You’ll have the chance to fight back against global competitors in their home market, rather than here in yours.

Bottom line: If your company has enjoyed domestic success and you want to take your business to the next level, you’re ready to export.

Keep in mind:

While this list is certainly not exhaustive, it’ll help you ask the right questions when exploring whether your company is ready to get out there and meet the other 95% of this planet’s consumers.

And remember: Success doesn’t happen overnight. While you may receive sizable, one-off international orders through online channels or following a trade show, generating sustained demand from a new market will generally require you to be intentional about your strategy and devote adequate resources to your export strategy.

Ready to export? Apply now to join our next MetroConnect cohort.

Is your small and medium-sized company ready to export and grow internationally, but needs the funding, guidance, and support to expand?

Apply by DECEMBER 17

Not ready yet? ➝ Stay connected with WTCSD opportunities via email.


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For COVID-19 recovery resources and information: Visit this page, or see how we can help your company free of charge.

And the MetroConnect V finalists are…

WTC San Diego is proud to announce the four finalists of MetroConnect V, San Diego’s premier export assistance program, presented by JPMorgan Chase and Procopio. These four diverse companies will compete for an additional $25,000 in funding towards their international expansion strategies during our virtual Grand Prize PitchFest on November 15, 2021.

The catch? They’re looking to you to judge and award the extra cash. Read more and register here to cast your vote.

Meet the MetroConnect V finalists:

  • Blue Sky Network | a seamless connectivity, satellite tracking, intelligent fleet management, and text and voice communications product provider.
  • Mayan Robotics | a manufacturer of essential electronic systems for unmanned vehicles and drones.
  • SIDUS Solutions | a provider of underwater positioners, high-definition cameras, penetrating bright lights, projection lasers, and inspection systems that improve safety, efficiency, and ease of operation in challenging environments.
  • White Labs | a developer of liquid yeast, fermentation products, services, analysis, and education to craft brewing professionals and enthusiasts.

Join us on November 15 to meet the finalists…and choose the winner!

Register NOW


Plus: Is your company ready to go global? Apply to be part of our next MetroConnect cohort:

Entering its sixth year, WTCSD will select 15 small businesses that:

  • Are headquartered in San Diego
  • Are export-ready (you are already exporting goods or services, or are looking to pursue international sales as a near-term priority)
  • Have been in business for at least one year
  • Are an SBA-designated small business
to participate in MetroConnect VI and receive:
  • A $5,000 export assistance grant
  • Executive export workshops
  • Complimentary access to SystranPRO machine translation software
  • Discounts on international travel with partner airlines
and more!

A note from Mark…

A step toward recovery…

On October 13, British Airways (BA) will resume its nonstop service between San Diego and London Heathrow. The flight that took our region’s global economic connectivity to a whole new level is finally back.

Ten years ago, the BA flight set off a new focus within our region on the role that direct, nonstop service to international markets could play in growing our economy through foreign direct investment and global trade. It was the catalyst for our Japan Airlines flight to Tokyo, our Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt, and continued strategies to expand our global reach and connectivity.

The flight also played a key role in the rebuilding of our region’s World Trade Center (WTC). We learned quickly that trade-related jobs were the kind of quality jobs we were hoping to create for more San Diegans, and that engagement with international markets could have a significant and positive impact on our region’s diverse small business community.

Now operated through EDC, the WTC partnership between the City of San Diego, the San Diego Airport, and the Port of San Diego was at its strongest just when the global pandemic shut down international travel (and life as we knew it). But while tourism and mobility from continent to continent slowed to a halt, the need for San Diego-based business to develop partnerships in foreign markets, tap into an international customer base, and draw financing from international investors did not. And while the work of WTC changed and pivoted slightly, the role that the team played in keeping our business community connected to international markets and resources remained steadfast.

It used to be very common for me to bump into colleagues at events who would ask, “Where do you think San Diego’s next international flight will be to?” or “Where is the WTC team going for their next trade mission?” I honestly so look forward to the days when these conversations and plans will be the norm again. But until then, I take great pride in the work our team continues to do to with our small business community to keep them globally connected and well-positioned to take advantage of new opportunities around the world as they emerge.

And as the BA flight once again connects us to London, the UK, and Europe, we view it as one important step in getting our economy back to full strength.

With gratitude and optimism,

Mark Cafferty

Mark Cafferty
Mark Cafferty

President & CEO

LEARN MORE ABOUT WORLD TRADE CENTER SAN DIEGO

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