Meet the MetroConnect VII companies!

Add these to your ‘companies to watch’ list

Together with Mayor Todd Gloria and underwriters Booz Allen Hamilton, Deloitte and JPMorgan Chase & Co., World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD) unveiled the seventh cohort of companies selected to participate in MetroConnect, the region’s comprehensive export assistance program helping local companies accelerate their international growth.

Since the program’s debut in 2015, 95 MetroConnect alumni have collectively added 302 new jobs to the region, signed more than 522 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. Alumni include Novo Brazil Brewing Co., Access Trax, White Labs, Dr. Bronner’s, Bitchin’ Sauce, Scientist.com, Aira (acquired by Blue Diego Investment Group), Cypher Genomics (acquired by Human Longevity Inc.), and many 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 VII companies

  1. Aquacycl
  2. Epitope Diagnostics
  3. Fieldsheer
  4. GALT Aerospace
  5. Harland Brewing Company
  6. Health Innovation Products
  7. Lotus Sustainables
  8. Promo Drone
  9. Selk’bag
  10. Sunday Golf
  11. Surf Loch
  12. VECKTA
  13. VeV Scientific
  14. Visaic
  15. Wearable Sensing

Learn about the companies

The MetroConnect program is highly competitive, with just 15 companies selected based on a variety of criteria, including interest in new foreign markets, assessed impact of funds, current international traction and more. Applicants were assessed by a panel of senior level representatives from Biocom, Connect, CMTC, WTCSD and the U.S. Commercial Service.

“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 the small businesses that power San Diego’s economy, and international connectivity is an important tool in building economic resilience.”

Why go global?

Amid economic uncertainty, it is more important than ever to help local SMEs build resilience by facilitating increased sales in global markets.

In 2022 alone, San Diego exported more than $32 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.

“Booz Allen is proud to support international business connectivity in San Diego through MetroConnect,” said Jennie Brooks, EVP at MetroConnect underwriter Booz Allen Hamilton, and EDC board chair. “The metrics don’t lie—it’s clear global companies are more competitive, efficient and successful. We’re committed to continuing this important work in San Diego’s business community.”

Next up for MetroConnect VII

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.

“2024 is filled with great opportunity for those who are prepared to navigate an uncertain and dynamic environment,” said Nikia Clarke, executive director of WTCSD. “Now with new tracks focused on technology, health and consumer goods, the MetroConnect program will ensure San Diego’s rapidly growing firms are equipped to access global markets, share our region’s life-changing innovation with the world, and create high quality jobs here at home.”

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.

A note on the new year

Dear EDC partners and investors,

Reflecting on our past year at San Diego Regional EDC, I turn to the conversations and moments I’ve been privileged to share with many of you across the San Diego community.

Each month, on a Wednesday morning overlooking the greens at Torrey Pines (or via Zoom screen), more than 60 board members from across San Diego’s industries—life sciences to defense, breweries to sports—have created space to connect, collaborate, partner, and assess our progress toward the region’s Inclusive Growth goals: 20K post-secondary completions annually, 75K newly thriving households, and 50K new quality jobs in small businesses by 2030. We know this is a marathon, not a sprint, and we’re in it for the long haul.

Our Board represents businesses born and grown here, new market entrants, large businesses with global reach, small, family-owned firms, nonprofits, academia, and anchor institutions in between. All of us have one thing in common: a commitment to the future of San Diego.

If we have learned anything about economic development over the years, it’s that we can neither stay the status quo nor stick to our swim lanes. We must work together, in our different ways, to ensure a resilient and competitive San Diego for employers and residents alike. In 2024, here’s how you can lean into this work with us:

  • While every company grapples with its post-pandemic approach to employee retention and return to office, participate in EDC’s study to understand your workforce’s needs
  • Support talent pipeline development and host summer interns in computing, engineering, or business—paid for through grant funding and sourced from San Diego’s Verified Programs
  • Support small businesses through procurement by joining the Anchor Institution Collaborative
  • Endorse the Inclusive Growth goals and adopt strategies to create more quality jobs, skilled talent, and thriving households in San Diego
  • Stay tuned for World Trade Center San Diego’s trade mission to draw regional investment and elevate San Diego’s global identity
  • Join 150 local companies and institutions in investing in EDC’s programs, research, and goals

The steps we take on this journey will be underpinned by EDC’s Research Bureau, market strategy, talent initiatives—and reliant on your investment—to help grow San Diego’s economy.

Join us in this work in 2024.

In gratitude,

Ms. Jennie Brooks
Ms. Jennie Brooks

EDC Board Chair

Executive Vice President

 

Read EDC’s Monthly Report

World Trade Center San Diego’s 2023 Annual Report

World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD), the international affiliate of San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC) and the regional leader on trade and investment, cultivates a pipeline of export-ready firms, maximizes foreign direct investment (FDI) opportunities, and enhances San Diego’s global identity.

In WTCSD’s 2023 Annual Report, see how we helped San Diego companies participate in a globally connected economy to create quality local jobs, and make the San Diego region more prosperous, competitive and resilient.

WTCSD’S CORE PILLARS

  • Exports: Supporting exporters creates quality jobs and builds resiliency in small businesses. WTCSD grows regional exports by facilitating sustainable connections to customers and markets for local firms.
  • Investment: Foreign investment strengthens competitive industry clusters and enables the expansion of local companies. WTCSD assists investing companies and supports international air service expansion.
  • Global Identity: A strong global reputation for innovation makes the region more competitive and connected. WTCSD communicates the impact of global trends on the regional economy and stewards relationships with the markets that matter most for growth.

EXPORTS

Priority: As the region’s Export Specialty Small Business Development Center (SBDC), WTCSD cultivates a pipeline of export-ready firms, and supports these companies in their efforts to grow in international markets.

INVESTMENT

Priority: Maximize foreign investment opportunities for the region by building and institutionalizing linkages with strategic markets abroad, as well as better leveraging local companies, partners, and assets.

  • Following WTCSD’s 2022 Netherlands trade mission, Dutch applied research organization TNO revolutionizing urban development strategy established its first North American office in San Diego.
  • WTCSD refreshed its primary print collateral for foreign investment attraction. The new brochure tracks San Diego’s key industries, FDI data, notable exports, and a regional summary; and soon, top metrics will appear as a digital dashboard on WTCSD’s website. The brochure was printed in English and Korean ahead of WTCSD’s Korea trade mission, and included a Korea-San Diego economic comparison.

GLOBAL IDENTITY

Priority: Enhance the San Diego region’s reputation and visibility to underpin investment retention and attraction efforts, as well as global connectivity goals.

  • Mayor Todd Gloria, SANDAG and County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Nora Vargas, and WTCSD led 2023’s trade mission to South Korea. The binational delegation of 30 civic, academic, and corporate leaders promoted San Diego’s key industries, established and strengthened public-private partnerships, and explored best practices in technology, life sciences, and clean energy innovation.

  • In honor of World Trade Month, WTCSD hosted its first World Trade Week San Diego. More than 200 international business professionals, consulates, and service providers from across Southern California attended the expo and MetroConnect VI Grand Prize PitchFest.

READ THE FULL WTCSD 2023 ANNUAL REPORT

 

GET INVOLVED

WTCSD’s Q4 Global Brief: Enhancing San Diego’s global identity

Each month, World Trade Center San Diego delivers the latest global news and updates straight to your inbox.

In Q4 2023, here’s what you need to know about San Diego’s global trade, investment, and engagement. ➝ Get WTCSD’s Global Brief each quarter.

Mayor Todd Gloria leads trade mission to South Korea

To strengthen business relationships and grow quality jobs in San Diego, Mayor Todd Gloria, SANDAG and County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Nora Vargas, and WTCSD led a binational trade mission to South Korea. With the U.S. government incentivizing the reshoring of supply chains and our regions’ complementary strengths in the life sciences, semiconductor, clean energy, and biotechnology sectors, South Korea is a critical global market and natural partner for San Diego companies expanding globally.
➝ Learn Why Korea

Reflections on our trade mission by Dr. Nikia Clarke

WTCSD’s 30 trade mission delegates showcased major regional development projects for foreign investors, toured Qualcomm and Illumina’s Korea offices, and explored opportunities to better connect our regions through travel and government partnerships while in South Korea. Most importantly, WTCSD’s Executive Director Dr. Nikia Clarke writes, “our binational region—with San Diego’s innovation ecosystem, Imperial Valley’s clean energy leadership, and Tijuana’s advanced manufacturing prowess—demonstrated its ability to compete like never before.”
➝Read the Recap

WTCSD in 2023: National recognition, export growth, and global connections

WTCSD cultivates a pipeline of export-ready firms, maximizes foreign direct investment opportunities, and enhances San Diego’s global identity. From winning the President’s “E” Award for growing regional exports through Export SBDC and MetroConnect to leading a Mayoral trade mission to South Korea, see how we supported 32 company projects with and through our partners in 2023.
➝Read our Annual Report

San Diego News

Events

Grow your company in san diego ↓

World Trade Center San Diego works directly with companies—free of charge—to help them expand internationally and grow in San Diego.

  • Export Specialty Center: For small companies interested in learning about exporting and international growth.
  • MetroConnect: For small and medium-sized companies ready to export and grow internationally.

➝ Get WTCSD’s Global Brief delivered straight to your inbox.


You might also like:

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

Reflections on our Korea Trade Mission

From San Diego to Korea: Collaborative partnerships to strengthen global competitiveness

It has been six years since World Trade Center San Diego—which EDC operates on behalf of the Port, the Airport, and the City of San Diego—ran its very first trade mission. Since then, we have taken annual targeted, cross-sector delegations to Canada, the UK, Japan, Germany, and the Netherlands. Led by Mayors and Members of Congress, flanked by Port, Airport, and University leadership, and accompanied by senior executives from our most innovative firms, these trade missions connect San Diego companies large and small to international markets, seek foreign investment that creates new jobs in our region, and tell the San Diego story: one of life-changing innovation and collaboration.

This year’s destination: Korea. And like every other year, San Diego showed up and impressed. Led by Mayor Todd Gloria—and joined this time by SANDAG and County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Nora Vargas—this year’s trade delegation of more than 30 civic, academic, and corporate partners also included peer organizations like Biocom and the Tijuana and Imperial Valley EDCs, as well as companies like Qualcomm, Illumina, Dexcom, ASML, General Dynamics NASSCO, and more.

At a time when more than a trillion dollars of federal investments are aimed at modernizing American infrastructure, enabling a green energy transition, and building domestic capacity in strategic industries like semiconductors and biomanufacturing, Korea is a natural partner for the United States, as evidenced by the deepening collaboration between our two countries. Korea is second only to China in manufacturing intensity, and Korean firms produce almost 25 percent of all EV batteries and almost 60 percent of global memory chips used in phones and laptops.

Why Korea →

There is also perhaps no more complementary partner for an innovation incubator like San Diego than a country that scales innovation more efficiently than anywhere else.

The trade mission opened with a Sunday visit to the residence of the Governor of Gyeonggi-do, Korea’s largest and most dynamic province. Governor Kim and his cabinet hosted us for a roundtable discussion focused on revitalizing the MOU between the state of California and Gyeonggi. We delivered a letter from Governor Newsom and invited a return delegation to visit California in 2024 to continue the conversation on economic cooperation.

This set the stage for a whirlwind four days packed from morning to night with more than 15 briefings, meetings, and events:

  • With the help of Dentons and the U.S. Embassy, we convened representatives from more than 30 of the largest Korean companies for an Invest San Diego Luncheon. We provided an economic overview of investment opportunities throughout the binational mega-region, followed by quick pitches on manufacturing, energy, innovation, and real estate projects from Tijuana, Imperial Valley, and San Diego.
  • We visited the rapidly growing Korean offices of Illumina and Qualcomm, and announced a new partnership between San Diego’s Dexcom and Korean tech giant Kakao.
  • We toured and met with leadership of Samsung Biologics, which in just a few years has grown into the world’s largest contract manufacturer of biologics and is considering the location of a large investment in the United States.
  • We celebrated partnerships between UCSD and SDSU—both developing new state of the art innovation districts—and Seoul National and Yonsei Universities, two of South Korea’s finest.
  • We spent a day in the City of Incheon—a city of millions that has been master planned and developed on land reclaimed from the ocean over the last two decades and is now the innovation hub of the greater Seoul area. Incheon is also home to the international airport, completed in just eight years, as well as the Port, completed in four.

See the FULL agenda

Finally, we closed the trip with a VIP meeting with U.S. Ambassador to Korea Philip Goldberg to discuss the evolving political and economic environment in the region, followed by a reception at the Ambassador’s residence in the former legation district of Seoul. As is the tradition on these trade missions, this reception gave us an opportunity to reconnect with the hundreds of partners we met during the week, cement new friendships (and perhaps most importantly, make sure everyone knows which team to root for when the Padres play the Dodgers in the MLB opener in Seoul next March).

We returned home this week to a region in which the entire urban core is being reimagined—with massive mixed-use projects under construction from the border to the bay; to a country attempting to rebuild its infrastructure and establish new industries to take us into a cleaner, smarter future; and in a post-pandemic world where supply chains and geopolitical alliances are shifting rapidly.

One thing is clear: Our binational region has always been a remarkable place, but at this moment—with San Diego’s innovation ecosystem, Imperial Valley’s clean energy leadership, and Tijuana’s advanced manufacturing prowess—we can compete like never before. Add the right international partnerships like those we are building in Korea and elsewhere, and we have all the necessary pieces to anchor the supply chains of the future: collaboratively, efficiently, and sustainably.

Thank you to our sponsors Qualcomm, Dentons, and Townshend Venture Advisors, as well our partner the U.S. Embassy in South Korea for support on this trade mission.

Best,

Nikia Clarke
Nikia Clarke

Senior Vice President; Executive Director, World Trade Center San Diego

 

   

Learn about WTCSD’s trade missions

 

Mayor Todd Gloria to lead South Korea trade mission to strengthen economic ties in Asia

WORLD TRADE CENTER SAN DIEGO CONVENES REGIONAL LEADERS TO HELP BUSINESSES IN SAN DIEGO MEGA-REGION EXPAND GLOBALLY, CREATE LOCAL JOBS

In order to foster vital global economic partnerships, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, SANDAG and San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Nora Vargas, and World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD), an affiliate of San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation (EDC), are leading a trade delegation to South Korea. During the October 27—November 2 trade mission, business and civic leaders will promote the region’s key industries and seek to establish and strengthen business relationships across biotechnology, semiconductors, clean energy, and infrastructure.

Monumental federal legislation (IIJA, IRA, and CHIPS and Science Act), combined with a generational shift in U.S. industrial strategy aimed at reducing American reliance on China, have positioned South Korea as a natural partner in critical industries. As the federal government continues to incentivize the reshoring and nearshoring of activities aligned to national priorities, leaders from across San Diego, Imperial Valley, and Tijuana are maximizing growth through global connection.                         

“South Korea is a critical global market and a natural partner for San Diego as we share complementary strengths in the life sciences, clean energy, and biotechnology sectors,” said Mayor Todd Gloria. “I’m proud to again join the World Trade Center San Diego on a trade mission to strengthen business relationships and grow quality jobs here at home for San Diegans.”

Home to Asia’s third busiest cargo airport and seventh largest port, South Korea is an emerging hub for global trade and business. As the U.S. strengthens its alliances in East Asia, San Diego finds in South Korea an economy with shared expertise in knowledge-intensive industries, including personalized medicine, semiconductor research and manufacturing, and clean energy. South Korean-based companies directly employ more than 850 San Diegans, predominantly in the technology and manufacturing industries at companies like Samsung and Hyundai. Notably, the U.S. and South Korea hold the #1 and #2 spots, respectively, in global market share of the semiconductor industry. Further, South Korean investment into the U.S. is accelerating, with $18.2 billion in new investment since mid-2020 alone. South Korea is the #13 country investing venture capital into San Diego by deal count, closely behind Germany and Singapore (2014—2020), primarily in the pharmaceuticals and technology industries.

LEARN ABOUT THE TWO REGIONS

 “The binational mega-region has always been a remarkable place, but at this moment for the global economy, we can compete like never before,” said Nikia Clarke, executive director of World Trade Center San Diego and senior vice president at San Diego Regional EDC. “With San Diego’s innovation ecosystem, Imperial Valley’s clean energy leadership, and Tijuana’s advanced manufacturing prowess, we have all the necessary pieces to anchor the supply chains of the future: collaboratively, efficiently, and sustainably.”

“I am looking forward to showcasing the advancements in clean energy technology, life sciences, and port infrastructure to elevate the best of what our binational region has to offer and identify new partnerships with South Korea to foster innovation and economic growth for both our regions,” said SANDAG and San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Nora Vargas. “This is an opportunity to increase trade and share new ideas that will help develop lasting solutions to improve our region’s infrastructure, transportation, and economy for the residents of San Diego County.”

Over the four-day trade mission in Seoul, Incheon, and Gyeonggi Province, San Diego will look to build lasting institutional relationships and attract foreign investment in industries that are critical to the future.

Agenda items include:

  • The celebration of a partnership between San Diego-based medtech company Dexcom and South Korean-based tech giant Kakao, which will enable Dexcom to bring its next-generation glucose monitoring capabilities to the South Korean market
  • Opportunities to showcase major regional development projects for foreign investors, including the Seaport Village redevelopment, Lithium Valley in Imperial County, as well as San Diego State University and UC San Diego’s campus expansions
  • Meetings with Port, Airport, and infrastructure partners to better connect our regions through nonstop air and liner service, as well as sharing energy transition innovations
  • Government convenings with the Governor of Gyeonggi and the Mayor of Siheung together with Mayor Todd Gloria and SANDAG and County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Nora Vargas
  • Formal meetings and tours of major employers in both regions, including Qualcomm, Illumina, and Samsung Biologics

Delegates will participate in upwards of 15 meetings over the course of the trade mission, sharing best practices and driving business connectivity across many verticals. The two dozen San Diego delegates include representatives from Illumina, Qualcomm, Viasat, ASML, Cubic, General Dynamics NASSCO, Gafcon, and small businesses including Tioga Research and Nano PharmaSolutions. Also in attendance are delegates from key agencies, universities, and civic organizations such as Port of San Diego, San Diego International Airport, UC San Diego, San Diego State University, San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), Imperial Valley EDC, Tijuana EDC, and others.

The trade mission is organized by World Trade Center San Diego, an affiliate of the San Diego Regional EDC, with assistance and support provided by the U.S. Embassy in South Korea, and sponsorship by Dentons, Townshend Venture Advisors, and Qualcomm.

Follow along with the trade mission: #SDinKR

REFLECTIONS ON OUR KOREA TRADE MISSION

WTCSD.ORG

Thank you to our trade mission sponsors:

A note from Mark…

October update: Implementing actionable insights

EDC Investors and Partners,

I hope you are enjoying the early days of fall in San Diego.

Those of you who have worked closely with our team at EDC over the last decade know that our core values have long been integrity, accountability, collaboration, and inclusion. We strive to ensure that these principles guide all that we do and are woven into the work of every team—and one of our most important teams at EDC is Research.

Our research is something I have always been quite proud of. You will frequently hear our team and board members say that everything we do at EDC starts with research. I have even heard more than one of our current board officers cite research as our organizational “superpower.”

When we reestablished the EDC Research Bureau, it was mainly to ensure that the internal decisions we were making, the goals we were setting, and the information we were providing on the San Diego economy was accurate and up-to-date. Over the years, we realized that our data and information was at its most powerful when it was being shared with audiences and decision makers outside of the organization.

More and more partners and investors began asking us to use our research to help understand the economic impact of a business or project, a certain sector of the economy, a new market or customer base, and more. Our team has partnered and worked with the Brookings Institution, AECOM, UCSD, SDSU, SANDAG, CBRE, CA EDD, County Office of Education, BW Research, and other partners to ensure that our data remains relevant, free from bias, and helpful in creating more quality jobs, skilled talent, and thriving households across our region.

As the organization has grown and the work has evolved, so has the research. Over the last year, EDC’s Research Bureau has:

And as the challenges, opportunities, and work pertaining to talent, equity and diversity, cost of living, and technology continue to evolve, we will again make sure that our team is moving and changing as well. In the year ahead, our Research Bureau will focus on better understanding and supporting the changing needs of small business as well as the ‘future of work’ and its impact on commercial real estate.

If interested in sponsoring and investing in our research into 2024, we welcome those conversations and opportunities. Please reach out to Eduardo Velasquez—our Sr. Director of Research and Economic Development—if you would like to learn more. After all these years, I can still assure you that everything we do at EDC starts with research, just as I can assure you that an investment in our EDC research team is an investment in accountability, integrity, collaboration, and inclusion.

Thanks as always for your leadership, partnership, and support.

Mark Cafferty
Mark Cafferty

President & CEO

Read EDC’s Monthly Report

WTCSD’s Q3 Global Brief: Growing exporters, STEP grants, and more.

Each month, World Trade Center San Diego delivers the latest global news and updates straight to your inbox, sponsored by Lufthansa Group.

In Q3 2023, here’s what you need to know about San Diego’s global trade, investment, and engagement. ➝ Get WTCSD’s Global Brief each quarter.

Apply by Sept. 20: Grow your global sales with MetroConnect

WTCSD’s MetroConnect export accelerator program equips cohorts of 15 San Diego companies with the resources and network to increase international sales. Made possible through a grant from Booz Allen Hamilton, Deloitte, and JPMorgan Chase & Co., participating companies receive an export grant, executive workshops, 40+ mentorship hours from top business leaders, and the opportunity to win an additional $25,000 Grand Prize.
➝ Learn More and Apply

MetroConnect Spotlight: Novo Brazil Brewing

Chula Vista-based Novo Brazil Brewing applied for MetroConnect to grow its beer and kombucha exports, and brand around the world. Thanks to the program’s executive workshops and expansive business network, Novo forged deeper connections with the San Diego International Airport and will continue to increase sales in Europe and Japan.
➝ Read More

MetroConnect Spotlight: Solecta

Oceanside-based Solecta applied for MetroConnect to tap into new global markets and increase revenue opportunities around its membrane separation technologies. Through MetroConnect’s extensive network and resources, including STEP grant consulting, Solecta has expanded its European workforce and increased its global revenue and brand recognition.
➝ Read More

San Diego News

Events

Grow your company in san diego ↓

World Trade Center San Diego works directly with companies—free of charge—to help them expand internationally and grow in San Diego.

  • Export Specialty Center: For small companies interested in learning about exporting and international growth.
  • MetroConnect: For small and medium-sized companies ready to export and grow internationally.

➝ Get WTCSD’s Global Brief delivered straight to your inbox.


You might also like:

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

WTCSD honored with Presidential Export Award

EDC’s own World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD) was honored today with the President’s “E” Award for Export Service.

Presented by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo at a ceremony in Washington D.C., the “E” Award recognizes WTCSD’s commitment to growth of exports and jobs, especially through MetroConnect and Export SBDC. This is the highest recognition a U.S. entity can receive for making a significant contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports.

“We are so proud to be named among the President’s “E” Award recipients. Whether through our flagship accelerator MetroConnect or the direct counseling we provide to exporters as an SBDC, our team is committed and passionate about supporting the growth of local businesses and showcasing all that San Diego has to offer to the rest of the world. As we often say, our work here is just getting started!” —Lucas Coleman, WTCSD Director

About MetroConnect

Using a cohort-based model, WTCSD’s MetroConnect accelerator equips sets of 15 San Diego companies with the resources and partners to increase international sales. For specialized assistance, the next cohort of MetroConnect VII companies will each be placed into one of three specialized tracks reflecting San Diego’s economic strengths—life sciences, strategic technology, and consumer goods.

In its first six years, MetroConnect has helped 95 local, small and mid-sized businesses generate a net increase of $97 million in international sales, 522 international contracts, and 32 overseas facilities. This international growth has coincided with 319 new hires here in the San Diego region.

Apply now through July 14

More from WTCSD

Access Trax wins $25K MetroConnect VI export grand prize

World Trade Center San Diego and 200+ voting audience award $25K for international expansion

World Trade Center San Diego (WTCSD) named Access Trax, which provides ADA compliant portable access mats for outdoor accessibility, as the winner of the MetroConnect export accelerator program, now in its sixth year. Made possible through a grant from JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Procopio, Access Trax will use the $25,000 award to expand its presence in markets such as Canada and Australia.

With more than 75 million people around the world using a wheelchair on a daily basis, Access Trax’ portable, foldable mats create pathways to access outdoor terrain like sand, grass, gravel, and snow that is otherwise impossible to navigate.

“Access Trax is the perfect reflection of San Diego’s life-changing innovation, leveraging our region’s excellence in manufacturing and lifestyle to help drive accessibility around the globe,” said Lucas Coleman, WTCSD Director. “The company’s results from MetroConnect’s sixth cohort are impressive. Whether it’s fine-tuning the go-to-market strategy in target markets such as Canada or alleviating critical language translation challenges, working to connect small and medium-sized businesses to international markets builds greater resilience here at home.”

The female-founded small business Access Trax beat out three other finalists in MetroConnect VI, Novo Brazil Brewing, Nano PharmaSolutions, and Solecta. The grand prize-winning company was decided via real-time audience vote during the Grand Prize PitchFest event May 11 at UC San Diego Park & Market. Prior to this, a committee of senior international business leaders in San Diego helped the WTCSD team nominate these top performers, out of the initial 15-company cohort.

“The MetroConnect program was instrumental in helping us lay the foundation for our strategic international growth. Access Trax is thrilled to earn the top vote of the audience and judges and we look forward to using the $25K towards local job creation and continued export growth for an even bigger impact,” said Kelly Twichel, CEO of Access Trax, the MetroConnect VI Grand Prize winner.

ABOUT THE PROGRAM

In its first six years, MetroConnect has helped 95 local, small and mid-sized businesses generate a net increase of $97 million in international sales, 522 international contracts, and 32 overseas facilities. This international growth has coincided with 319 new hires here in the San Diego region.

Each cohort year, WTCSD selects 15 export-ready small businesses to receive $5,000 export grants, access to executive workshops, translation software, and a chance to win a $25,000 grand prize to aid in further international market expansion. Applications for year seven of the MetroConnect program are now open through July 14, 2023. 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.

GLOBAL CONNECTION TO BOOST RESILIENCE

Since 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.

“For nearly a decade now, JPMorgan Chase and MetroConnect have teamed up to help San Diego businesses push the boundaries of innovation and growth,” said Aaron Ryan, Managing Director for San Diego Middle Market Banking at JPMorgan Chase. “San Diego is one of the most resilient economies in the U.S., and we keep seeing how businesses here are primed to realize their full potential across the globe.”

WTCSD hosted its MetroConnect Grand Prize PitchFest on May 11, with remarks by Nikia Clarke, Executive Director, WTCSD; Kevin Cox, President, Electra Bicycle Company; Danny Fitzgerald, Regional Director, San Diego & Imperial SBDC Network; and program underwriter Aaron Ryan, Managing Director for San Diego Middle Market Banking, JPMorgan Chase.

WTCSD has year-round, non-exclusive international opportunities that help companies break expand internationally, such as the Export SBDC and strategy for global engagement.

Learn more about WTCSD