Amidst uncertain times, we’re grateful for the San Diego life sciences companies responding to COVID-19 in the biggest ways–developing tests, innovating vaccines, and more. But many San Diego companies are stepping up to help in less conventional ways. Here are five:
1. Seven Caves Distillery
Seven Caves Distillery, located off Miramar Road, is one of several local distilleries using its facility to manufacture hand sanitizer and get it in the hands of the people who need it most – restaurant and health care workers. In partnership with Bill Rogers of Liberty Call Distilling, owner Geoff Longenecker has helped source ethanol from fellow distilleries – enough to make more than 200 gallons of sanitizer.
A bicycle accessory manufacturer…helping the COVID-19 effort? It’s true: Clairemont Mesa-based Orucase, which makes sturdy travel cases for cyclists, has modified its manufacturing line to make face masks for medical workers on the front line. The company aims to manufacture 500,000 per week, and can ship immediately.
3. Dr. Bronner’s
Vista-based Dr. Bronner’s recently announced it is allotting a reserve of 2% of all hand sanitizer production to donate to at-risk communities and the organizations that serve them. The company has already shipped donations organizations serving unhoused and low-income populations in San Diego, New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Additionally, Dr. Bronner’s donated boxes of soap and hand sanitizer to Vista’s Public Safety team to help keep them healthy while they keep our region safe. See more on Dr. Bronner’s here.
Nanome, a VR startup in Miramar, has been using its immersive technology to help scientists around the world model potential therapies for COVID-19 in virtual reality. Recently, the company’s drug discovery specialist and a biomedical modeler for Australia’s national science agency CSIRO used this tech to investigate the way the virus uses its spike protein to attach to human cells. By using Nanome’s technology, the scientists were able to run simulations and manually interrogate key parts of the model. While scientists recently solved the structure of COVID-19, there are gaps in the knowledge that Nanome believes its technology could help fill.
5. Highland Valley Vineyards
Escondido’s family-owned Highland Valley Vineyards has committed to donating 20% of its proceeds to the San Diego Food Bank through at least mid-May. With this effort, the winery hopes to help the Food Bank support the increased need for food assistance brought on by COVID-19 related employment losses. Individuals interested in supporting a local family business and a great cause can purchase carry-out bottles on Saturday and Sundays, from noon to six, or via the online storefront featuring all of the wines and shipping to 38 states. Learn more at Innovate78.
These are just a few of the many San Diego companies stepping up to help in creative ways. Know a great company that deserves recognition? Tag @SDlifechanging on Twitter or Instagram to let us know.
Every Friday, ‘Good News of the Week’ features a curation of positive headlines from San Diego, delivered straight to your inbox. A blend of aggregated stories from San Diego’s best news sources and original EDC-created content, GNOTW provides a comprehensive recap of the region’s best stories from the past week.
For the week of February 7, 2020, here’s a look at what we’re reading:
This post originally appeared on SDlifechanging.org. San Diego: Life. Changing. is an EDC led initiative focused on attracting and retaining STEM talent in San Diego. Check out the company map and more for information about working and living in San Diego.
It’s that time of year again. The holidays have come and gone, only to be replaced by subzero temperatures, snow-covered driveways, and really angry people commuting to work. Not exactly the kind of “chill” we’re into here in San Diego (where it’s currently 64 degrees Fahrenheit). So we’ve brought back our Just Say No to Winter campaign to remind everyone that life doesn’t have to be like that. You can actually have a meaningful career at an awesome company without freezing all season.
This year, we partnered with the San Diego Tourism Authority to make Just Say No to Winter bigger and better than ever. In addition to the digital ads served in chilly regions and the Boston subway ads we did last year, the campaign now includes subway ads in Chicago and a live activation with Surfer Sam on the stone-cold streets of New York City.
SD’s Surfer Sam paddles through NYC
From January 21-23, Surfer Sam will be walking around with a bright orange surfboard, telling people to “just say NO!” And if that doesn’t entice them, perhaps winning a trip to San Diego would. One lucky New Yorker will win a pair of roundtrip airfare with JetBlue Airlines from NYC to SD, a 3-night stay at downtown San Diego’s luxury Pendry hotel, and even a walking food tour with So Diego Tours.
Click on any of the photos below to check out some of Surfer Sam’s NYC encounters. And if you live in New York, there’s still time to catch Surfer Sam and win a trip to San Diego! Follow along on Instagram Stories for her whereabouts.
Why are we telling people to “just say no to winter?”
“Last year, San Diego saw nearly 105,000 unique job postings for STEM-related occupations,” said Mark Cafferty, president & CEO at San Diego Regional EDC. “With tech heavyweights such as Qualcomm, Illumina, Viasat and now Apple who all cite talent as a major reason for their presence in our region, we must continuously strive to remain competitive by attracting, retaining and developing skilled workers. Plus, as a Boston native, I can confidently say that it is possible to have a great career without freezing every day.”
While the demand for quality STEM talent is at an all-time high nationwide, the Just Say No to Winter campaign was introduced in January 2019 in an effort to bring and retain talent to San Diego, resulting in ‘go-viral’ status, national media attention and 123 million impressions. EDC, through its SD: Life. Changing. platform, juxtaposed footage of San Diego’s (nearly) year-round sunshine with harsh, freezing winters in metros across the country, while also showcasing mission-driven companies that call this place home.
This year, with support from SDTA, EDC will be expanding its public transit advertising inside subways to Chicago and Boston and executing various digital marketing tactics, including paid and organic social media, to direct talent to justsaynotowinter.com. The Just Say No to Winter landing page will now feature links to a company map, 28 neighborhood profiles, talent video profiles, and details on a campaign sweepstakes.
“Our region is a top travel destination, and it’s also home to numerous tech and life sciences companies that are doing great, life-changing work,” said Kerri Kapich, COO at the San Diego Tourism Authority. “We often hear travelers say that they fall in love with San Diego when they visit and wish they could do business here, which is why we’ve partnered with EDC. Together, we’re encouraging more people to visit San Diego and see for themselves that San Diego really is the best place to live, work and play.”
San Diego: Life. Changing.’s Just Say No to Winter promotion will run in conjunction with EDC’s Inclusive Growth Initiative and Advancing San Diego program, allowing for regional employers to also look inward and develop local talent. To learn more about the campaign, visit justsaynotowinter.com.
Through it all, EDC impacted 5,228 jobs and worked on 179 projects – supported by companies, investors, community partners, and more – on behalf of San Diego’s economy. While our work spans multiple industries and organizations, with various programs and goals, there’s an universal thread that ties it all together: build a more inclusive economy that benefits all San Diegans.
As we close out 2019 and another successful decade, let us recap our top 10 wins for San Diego…
San Diego: Life. Changing.’s Just Say No to Winter campaign received national attention
Going into its fourth year, SD: Life. Changing. is our award-winning campaign that aims to attract and retain talent for our region. We kicked off 2019 with Just Say No to Winter, a transit and social media campaign that targeted STEM talent in Boston, Chicago, and New York during the peak of winter with information about career opportunities in San Diego. Thanks to this go-viral marketing push – and coverage in The New York Times, the nationally-syndicated program “The List,” and more – we saw 34X the ROI, 2.6 million social media impressions, and 36K video views.
EDC received its largest grant in history, catalyzing Advancing San Diego
World Trade Center SD’s MetroConnect export assistance program had its best year yet
Made possible through a grant from JPMorgan Chase & Co., MetroConnect provides small- and medium-sized companies with the resources necessary to expand into global markets. During the 2018-19 program, companies in MetroConnect IV collectively generated a net increase of $69.6 million in export sales, signed 369 international contracts, and opened 10 new facilities overseas. Together, the 20 participating companies also created more than 100 jobs in San Diego – evidence that exporting supports the increase of jobs locally.
While the growth of our innovation economy has created tremendous opportunity, it has also perpetuated systemic inequities. 2019 was all about elevating an inclusive economic development strategy – the lens in which EDC views all of its work – so that economic growth is seen and felt among the entire region. In order to effectively do this, EDC’s employer-led Inclusive Growth Steering Committee supported actionable recommendations and measurable targets for creating a San Diego that benefits all residents. By 2030:
With support from EDC, Cubic Corporation secured $8.5M in tax credits & broke ground on its new HQ
“Since our founding in 1951, we have established strong roots in the San Diego community and it was very important for us to remain headquartered here. The San Diego Regional EDC was an integral resource for our redevelopment. They were able to strategically bring key partners together and secure incentives that best positioned us to redevelop our headquarters in the Kearny Mesa area.” – Anshooman Aga, executive vice president and CFO at Cubic Corporation
EDC managed San Diego’s Integration Pilot Program (IPP), propelling 1,150+ successful missions
From monitoring coastal erosion to fighting wildfires, drones offer enormous social and environmental benefits. San Diego is currently one of 10 state, local, and tribal governments to participate in the Integration Pilot Program, which has allowed our region to be at the forefront of an industry that is expected to reach a $43 billion market value by 2024.
EDC produced 24 reports to help residents and businesses better understand San Diego’s economy
EDC provides research and data to local companies, site selectors, and civic leaders to help them make well-informed decisions about our economy. From monthly reports (and videos) that chart key economic indictors to customized economic impact reports for companies, EDC’s research helped the regional stakeholders better understand this place we call home.
Innovate78 ampliﬁed its reach along the 78 Corridor, convening more than 500+ individuals
International partnerships take time, but based on initial meetings on the trade mission, San Diego has planted the seed for long-term relationships with major companies, including BMW, IBM, Siemens, Daimler, and more.
We might be a little biased, but we think San Diego is a pretty special place. It’s full of passionate forward-thinkers who somehow find the perfect balance of both working hard and playing hard. So what’s San Diego’s secret formula? Simply add life-changing companies, nearby mountains and beaches, and friendly, driven people, and a great work-life balance will come naturally. Here, it’s almost impossible not to have it all – and telecommunications heavyweight Viasat is all about this harmony.
Located in the growing tech hub of Carlsbad, Viasat is a global communications company that enables high-quality, affordable internet connection for new markets. Viasat innovators design solutions to provide Wi-Fi for commercial aviation, military technology, and underserved areas. We met Gary Lovely, a lead front-end engineer (now promoted to development manager) who moved to San Diego from the Bay Area. At Viasat, he helps connect communities to internet access, enabling more opportunities for people around the world.
“San Diego has actually given me a new lease on life, to be able to understand that I can, in a way, have it all,” he said. Even with this critical work, Gary still finds time to take advantage of Viasat’s indoor and outdoor collaborative spaces, and enjoy its basketball and beach volleyball courts. “[Before San Diego,] I didn’t realize that work-life balance was something that existed. Coming from the Bay Area, everyone always preached about it, but no one actually lived it.”
To learn more about how Viasat employees solve important problems while enjoying life, watch Gary’s video below. You’ll discover how San Diego enables a life in balance and, most importantly, why Gary loves coming to work every day. “When we’re able to solve a problem that impacts a large mass of people, it brings us a lot of joy to know that we’re doing the right thing for the community and the world as a whole,” he said. Transforming lives, including your own – it doesn’t get more #SDlifechanging than that.
The City of San Marcos was also recognized with the Award of Excellence – Collaborations, for its California Competes Tax Credit Collaboration with EDC. And of course, EDC didn’t leave empty-handed either, taking home the Award of Excellence – Promotions for San Diego: Life. Changing. Make sure to check out SDlifechanging.org, and give them a follow on social to learn more. Share your story using #SDlifechanging.
In 2018, San Diego saw nearly 84,000 unique job postings for STEM-related occupations (EMSI, Job Posting Analytics). While tech heavyweights such as Illumina, Viasat, and now Apple all cite talent as a major reason for their San Diego presence, the region must continuously strive to attract, retain, and develop skilled workers to remain competitive.
As part of San Diego: Life. Changing. – EDC’s talent attraction and retention program – we have launched the ‘Just Say No to Winter’ campaign. The campaign targets three markets – Boston, Chicago, and New York – in the throes of winter via video, subway (Boston T), and social media advertising.
In an attempt to bring top-tier STEM talent to San Diego to fill open positions at the region’s many tech and life sciences companies, the campaign juxtaposes San Diego’s (nearly) year-round sunshine with the harsh winters in markets across the country, while also communicating the focus on the mission-driven companies that call this place home. More at justsaynotowinter.com.
EDC is running the campaign in coordination with its Inclusive Growth initiative, which seeks to find employer-driven strategies to build a stronger local talent pipeline, help small businesses compete and address affordability issues in San Diego.
Saving the best for last, project management software company Wrike celebrated the opening of three office locations worldwide: Melbourne, Dublin, and San Diego. The celebration took place back-to-back over the course of just 16 hours, in what the company called a #WrikeRelay.
Named among Deloitte’s 500 Fastest Growing Companies in North America, Wrike has grown from 300 employees in 2015 to 700 today (and hiring), serving customers across 130 companies.
This marks Wrike’s third location in San Diego. The first San Diego office opened in February 2016 with the company well on its way to meeting its goal of creating 150 jobs in three years. The new office in UTC will accommodate the increasing number of sales and customer success roles that make up the bulk of its local team. Wrike has grown its customer base in North America by 362 percent and its total annual recurring revenue in the region by 287 percent over the last three years.
“The collaborative work management market has really taken off in the last few years as a variety of trends from digital transformation to the rise of the remote workforce and the consumerization of IT all converged,” said Wrike Senior Director of North American Sales Alex German. “It has been exciting to witness firsthand as high-growth companies have discovered how Wrike could help them increase productivity, improve collaboration, and create new revenue opportunities. Moving into this new space will give us the room we need to expand our team and continue driving exponential growth for the company.”
JLL, a world leader in real estate services, represented Wrike in the search and negations for its new San Diego office.
Helped AI startup Aira sign deals with San Diego Regional Airport Authority and San Diego Convention Center
Engaged startup community in North County through Startup78
WTC San Diego
As part of EDC, World Trade Center San Diego works to cultivate a pipeline of export-ready firms, maximize FDI opportunities, and grow the region’s global connectivity.
Amid increasing uncertainty over national trade policy, ensuring that local companies get the tools they need to be successful overseas is more important than ever. WTC deployed the following tactics in Q3:
San Diego Aira is changing how people see the world, literally. The EvoNexus graduate was formed by several Rady School of Management alumni that had a vision to help blind and visually impaired individuals have a higher quality of life. The company has created a wearable technology that a blind or vision impaired (BVI) person can wear, which better connects them to their surroundings via a live individual who sees exactly what they would. These navigators transcribe the visual world into an auditory one. From shopping, to reading ingredients and instructions, picking out an outfit to traveling or calling an uber, Aira helps BVI individuals live a more independent lives. Based in San Diego, the company now employs 50 people, developers and navigators, that help clients across the country. And Aira is just getting started. Partnering with institutions like UC San Diego and San Diego International Airport, Aira Enabled Zones are being stood up to ensure BVI individuals are able to access this assistance for free while at school, on travel, etc.
San Diego Regional EDC has been proud to support Aira in creating strategic partnerships via introductions to San Diego institutions and regional partners. EDC was able to leverage its existing network to open new doors for Aira at key San Diego business and organizations including the San Diego Convention Center, San Diego Tourism Authority, Petco, Viasat, BD, Cubic, Canadian Department of Commerce, Zero8Hundred, Seaworld, Tijuana EDC, and more.
The company was also recently named to WTC San Diego’s export accelerator program, MetroConnect.