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The Big Picture San Diego Blog

Go Global San Diego

February 23, 2016

By Mark Cafferty, President & CEO

Kia ora!

Just back from a long trip to Auckland, New Zealand and Sydney, Australia. I wanted to share some updates and observations from my time representing EDC and marketing our region to our friends Down Under and in the City of Sails.

Unlike many of my recent international trips, I spent a great deal of time over the past few weeks engaging with our economic development peers at the Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development agency (ATEED) and the leadership of the Committee for Sydney – two very different and interesting models in two very different and interesting cities. EDC’s relationships with these highly regarded organizations have been continually strengthened and enhanced through our work with JPMorgan Chase and Brookings Institute. Our colleague Greg Clark from Brookings was especially instrumental in setting up several of these meetings over the course of my trip.

Most exciting for me to see was the buzz EDC’s work has created over the past few years. Both the ATEED and the Committee for Sydney were familiar with our research and gave high praise to our work with the region’s traded clusters. Quite surprisingly, the organizations knew about our transition away from politics/policy over the last four years and praised EDC for being a leader in redefining regional economic development through a collaborative, employer-led approach – a strategy that has served us well.

In Auckland, they are building a "sports and active lifestyle" sector strategy based on the research EDC conducted a few years ago in partnership with San Diego Sports Innovators. They have also analyzed our export strategy and Go Global efforts, and are working to mirror several of our programs/initiatives – now spearheaded by the WTC San Diego housed within EDC.

In Sydney, the highly influential Committee for Sydney was excited about what they have seen/read regarding our collaboration with Mayor Faulconer's office. Specifically, they are hoping to set up a video conference in May with their business and political leadership in Sydney to hear about the "San Diego Story" from the Mayor and the EDC team. From there they are hoping to open the door to a large-scale trade/investment mission in 2017. Stay tuned...

Along the way I also had a fantastic meeting with Baseball New Zealand set up through the San Diego Padres, meetings with the airline industry set up by our colleagues at the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, and continued engagement with leadership from two of our greatest San Diego/Sydney business connections: Cubic and ResMed. Lastly, I met with an Auckland-based VC firm who will likely be visiting businesses in San Diego within the next few months.

As always, San Diego’s universities, world renowned research institutions, biotech industry, defense technology and proximity to Mexico dominated conversations throughout the course of my trip. And with international commerce opportunities increasing and expanding through the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), everyone I spoke with saw San Diego's geography, entrepreneurship and economic diversity as key assets for expanded international trade and investment.

But what was incredible to see was how much better San Diego's economic story was understood and appreciated in comparison to my first visit to Auckland and Sydney just two years ago.

With and through our partners/investors, EDC is successfully placing San Diego on the radar of international businesses, investors and thought leaders across the world. The National Geographic Smart Cities documentary and our work with Brookings and JPMorgan Chase have a lot to do with this, but so does the hard work of our economic development team, the outstanding research we have been producing and the creative way in which our marketing team is framing our work and telling our story. For that, we have nobody to thank more than our board members and investors whose leadership, guidance, support, direction and vision are helping to change the way the world sees our region and our economy. And the best is yet to come.

A fascinating person I met with during this trip told me that an old Australian Aboriginal Proverb states:

"We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love...and then we return home."

Thank you for sharing this time and place with us, and thank you for continuing to support our efforts to observe, learn and grow. 

February 4, 2016
By Nikia Clarke, director of World Trade Center San Diego
Konichiwa from Osaka!
Given the deep linkages between our regions, it is fitting that the World Trade Center San Diego 2016 calendar of trade and investment activities begins with a targeted focus on Japan. Sean Barr sent his reflections from Tokyo last week, where he was supporting a UC San Diego Technology Symposium and representing our region at an international nanotechnology and robotics show.
And this week I am traveling across the country with SelectUSA, the federal government’s foreign investment attraction agency. Japan is the second largest source of foreign direct investment to the United States, and more than 800,000 Americans are employed by US subsidiaries of Japanese firms. San Diego is a microcosm of this larger relationship, with companies like Takeda, Kyocera, Ajinomoto, and Murata employing thousands of San Diegans.  
On Monday we kicked off the Roadshow in Tokyo with HE Caroline Kennedy, Ambassador to Japan; Ambassador Vinai Thummalapally, Select USA Executive Director; and Mr. Tatsuhiro Shindo, Executive Vice President of JETRO for the signing of an historic MOI. We then moved on to Nagoya and Osaka, meeting with groups of potential investors at each stop.  

Representatives from the head offices of Japanese companies that have made long term investments in our region joined me on the road. Their eagerness to support our efforts here and tell their own San Diego story to their peers is a testament to the deep ties between our two economies.
In Tokyo, Toshitake Kobayashi from Takeda Pharmaceuticals joined me to speak to the group of 200 potential investors about how collaboration between Takeda California and Takeda Japan drives innovation in drug discovery for the firm as a whole. This is why Takeda closed its Bay Area facility and consolidated operations in San Diego. Takeda is Asia’s largest drug manufacturer, employing more than 30,000 people worldwide.
This emphasis on innovation was echoed by Naoki Sekizawa from Denso, a global manufacturer of parts and technology for every major auto maker from Toyota to GM. He explained to a group of 60 investors in Nagoya that Denso’s operations in Vista – located along the 78 corridor – remain the multinational’s North American research headquarters because of the talented workforce available in ‘telecom valley.’ 
Naoki Mori, from Nitto Denko, a water technology company that acquired Oceanside firm Hydranautics in 1987, joined me in Osaka to share his perspective on the advantages of our region. He emphasized the premier universities and research institutions as we spoke to another packed room of over 100 investors interested in the US market. 
Three companies from diverse industries delivering the same message: San Diego’s innovation ecosystem – with its strong research institutions and top-tier talent - is a world-class asset. And yet, it is clear that in terms of maximizing these assets, we could be doing more. Out of over a dozen states and metros participating in the roadshow, San Diego is the only one without a Japan trade office staffed with dedicated investment personnel. 
Our investors and partners have done tremendous work over the last few years to generate a comprehensive trade and investment plan for the region. And our Port, Airport and City are driving the execution of that plan through the revitalization of World Trade Center San Diego. That kind of regional coalition building is both rare and formidable, and for that we are grateful. 
So you will be hearing much more about Japan in the coming months, as we prepare to host several incoming delegations of Japanese companies in advanced industries. And you will also be hearing from Auckland, Sydney, London, Toulon, and Stockholm, as we work to grow exports to, investment from, and relationships with the markets that matter most to San Diego’s growth, prosperity and resilience.
Big thanks and kanpai to the San Diego leadership of Takeda, Denso, and Hydranautics for coordinating support on the road, and for the language lessons too.

December 17, 2015

In 2015, San Diego’s economic impact spanned the globe.

From connecting with companies in Tokyo to premiering a “National Geographic” documentary in London, EDC collectively traveled nearly 60,000 miles this year – the equivalent of traveling around the globe twice.
This work is made possible by the strategic investment of more than 150 visionary companies and organizations that support EDC's economic development agenda. Click here to see EDC's year in review.

December 11, 2015
San Diego Regional EDC is pleased to announce the relaunch of the World Trade Center San Diego (WTC San Diego), an organization dedicated to growing international trade and investment opportunities for San Diego. After an extensive search, the organization has hired Dr. Nikia Clarke as the new director of the WTC San Diego.
The city of San Diego, Port of San Diego and San Diego County Regional Airport Authority jointly own the license for the WTC San Diego, and have partnered with San Diego Regional EDC to execute World Trade Center programs. As a member of the World Trade Centers Association (headquartered in New York City), WTC San Diego will connect San Diego businesses to a global network of more than 330 World Trade Center licensees in roughly 100 countries. 
Mayor Kevin Faulconer said, “The WTC San Diego is a critical part in the engine that will fire up our economy and workforce through creating foreign-direct investment and export opportunities. I’m proud of this accomplishment and the hard work that our partnership did to bring this vital organization back to life. I’m also proud of San Diego Regional EDC for coordinating the day-to-day tasks of this organization that will ultimately help showcase San Diego on the world stage as a talented and innovative city.”   
Mark Cafferty, president and CEO of San Diego Regional EDC said, “We are fortunate to have three of our most important public partners driving San Diego’s international engagement strategy. The best way to grow jobs locally is by helping our companies increase ties with global markets.”
Dan Malcolm, chairman of the board of Port Commissioners said, “As a founding License Holder of World Trade Center San Diego, the Port of San Diego is excited to continue to develop and optimize international networks and trade and investment opportunities to drive economic growth in the region.” 
Robert H. Gleason, board chairman of the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority said, “At San Diego International Airport, we know that a region’s economic competitiveness relies on effective air transportation and efficient connections to global markets. So we have looked forward to the relaunch of World Trade Center San Diego for some time and are excited to help advance the work of this crucial organization on behalf of our region and its international airport.”
WTC San Diego will capitalize on the brand’s strong local legacy to further drive a comprehensive regional trade and investment agenda.  WTC San Diego will operate as an affiliate of San Diego Regional EDC, executing the region’s Go Global San Diego initiative and providing other trade-related services. Released in early 2015 as a roadmap for reorienting the region’s economy towards greater global engagement, Go Global San Diego aims to grow jobs, enhance San Diego’s global identity and increase connections to markets that matter most to the region’s economy.  
In her new role, Clarke will be charged with overseeing San Diego’s international engagement strategy. A graduate of Oxford University with a Ph.D. in international relations, Clarke joins WTC San Diego with an extensive background in global business strategy, foreign direct investment (FDI) policy research and investment trends consulting. Clarke has spent the last ten years working in the private, public, and non-profit sectors in the U.S., the U.K., China and South Africa, and is founder and former director of OUCAN, an international network of emerging market industry leaders, researchers and policy makers. 
This week, WTC San Diego convenes the Global Competitiveness Council for its inaugural meeting. This group of senior partners and stakeholders will help to drive global engagement programming for the region. Highlights of WTC San Diego programming in early 2016 include: 
  • Outbound Mission: Japan (January)
  • Outbound Mission: Australia/New Zealand (February)
  • San Diego Global Forum: Latin America (February)
  • MetroConnect Export Challenge Kickoff (March)
  • Incoming Mission: American Competitiveness Exchange (April)
  • Outbound Mission: United Kingdom (April)
WTC San Diego is co-located with the San Diego Regional EDC offices. 
December 10, 2015


A taste of San Diego.  During a Nov. 2014 trip to Munich, Mark Cafferty(L) and Ian Wendlandt (R- Chief of Staff, Stone) present Stone Beer to Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter. 

On tap this week: Another ‘first’ for San Diego. At a time when many San Diego breweries are going through acquisitions, Stone Brewing Co. is going global.

In 2014, EDC Investor Stone announced it would be the first American craft brewer to independently build, own and operate a brewery in Europe. And they chose Berlin, arguably the beer capital of the world (pre-San Diego beer reign, that is), as the place to do this. This week, Europeans got their first taste of these San Diego-influenced, Berlin-brewed Stone craft beers. The hop-centric craft beers made their debut at more than 40 locations throughout Germany, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom.

This is a significant moment for craft beer internationally,” said Stone CEO & co-founder Greg Koch in a company statement. “We’ve worked long and hard to introduce our vision of bold, innovative craft beer to Europeans and that day has finally arrived.”

Stone is not just introducing great beer to the masses, but with it, is also giving foreign audiences a taste of San Diego. San Diego will benefit if more companies, not just in the beer industry, but in medical devices, software and other high impact industries, follow suite.  Global companies pay higher wages, are less likely to go out of business, increase productivity of the domestic market, and spur more efficient development of technology and R&D. In 2015, EDC launched its Go Global San Diego initiative to enable other San Diego companies to engage in global markets. And every time EDC travels internationally, it always brings Stone beer with it.

As Bruce Katz, a key EDC partner at the Brookings Institution, said, “You don’t export unless you are making a high-quality product that the rest of the world wants…And that’s the San Diego story.” Global interest has sparked a demand for San Diego beer and Stone is capitalizing on it. It’s our hope that other companies do the same. 

October 29, 2015

This is part of an ongoing series which will feature one company every week that received the MetroConnect Prize, presented by JPMorgan Chase

The digital health industry is on the brink of rapid growth.

One in five people in the world now own a smartphone. By 2016, the number of smartphone users worldwide will surpass 2 billion. Although most people are familiar with using smart phones to text message, check emails, or play games, the ubiquity of smartphone technology has allowed for transformative advances in many fields, not the least in healthcare and medicine. 

Entra Health, a San Diego-based mobile health IT company, capitalizes on smartphone technology to bring to patients and healthcare providers a system to monitor and communicate about patients’ health.

“We provide a suite of technology solutions and services,” said Richard C. Strobridge, CEO and co-founder of Entra Health, “[Our services] range from our own FDA Class II software platform through to our comprehensive one-stop shopping for remote patient monitoring, telemedicine and mobile health devices.”

Entra Health integrates wireless technology with healthcare needs. The company’s expertise in worldwide medical device regulations have also propelled their devices into an international standard.

“Foreign markets have always posed a unique strategic advantage for Entra Health,” said Strobridge. “Our strategy from the beginning was to get as many international regulatory approvals for our medical device product as possible.  This strategy has allowed us to become the de facto glucose meter for clinical trials worldwide.”

With the MetroConnect prize, Entra Health used the funds for sales development, regulatory submissions, patent development, and travel to develop business partnerships in South Korea, China, Australia, and Germany.

“We plan to continue with our strategy of strengthening our intellectual property position, complete platform licensing strategy in Australia, and complete regulatory submissions […] in Australia, Europe, and Mexico,” said Strobridge. “The MetroConnect prize has given us an added sense of pride and affirmation of Entra Health's core mission of keeping people healthier while decreasing the financial burden of chronic disease.”

The success of small- and medium-sized businesses is critical to the region’s future, and increasing their global reach is crucial to that success. Through the MetroConnect Prize, companies such as Entra Health received $10,000 grants to assist with their next step in going global.

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October 23, 2015

This is part of an ongoing series on the recipients of the MetroConnect Prize, presented by JPMorgan Chase, a grant awarded to 15 companies looking to expand into new foreign markets.

Over the past two decades, Asia has risen dramatically as a global economic powerhouse. With increased economic power, many Asian countries have also experienced increased population growth, increased household income, and higher life expectancy. 

Global companies are investing heavily in Asia in research and manufacturing, and while Asia was once seen as a place to outsource manufacturing and production, it is increasingly becoming a major R&D hub in its own right. Asia’s pharmaceutical industry is estimated to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars. A recent report by the Economic Intelligence Unit noted that regional pharmaceutical sales have reached $214 billion in 2010, and is expected to hit $386 billion in 2016.

The number of players in the global pharmaceutical industry is rising. However, there are still several barriers that prevent the industry from truly coming together.

IriSys, LLC, a San Diego-based contract pharmaceutical research and development and manufacturing company, aims to bridge the gap between Asia’s pharmaceutical firms and the U.S. market.

“We see the Asian markets, especially China and Japan, as areas where we can find new companies needing our services here in the U.S.,” said Gerald J. Yakatan, chairman and CEO of IriSys. “We are an important provider of services to biotech and pharmaceutical companies wishing to develop products to meet FDA standards in the United States. It is our view that drug discovery is becoming a world-wide effort, and that new drugs will emerge from improved basic drug discovery research occurring in Asia.”

With the richness of R&D efforts of Asian pharmaceutical companies, it is no wonder that the U.S. has now become the untapped market. IriSys is part of a globally collaborative movement that will expand access to pharmaceutical developments and enable companies to fulfill regulatory requirements in the U.S..

With the MetroConnect funds, IriSys plans to augment business development efforts in China and Japan.

“IriSys will be using the funds from the MetroConnect Award to further our on-going efforts to develop business in Asia,” said Yakatan.  “We have already translated our website into Mandarin, attended scientific conferences in both Japan and China, and will try to set up a business development office in Shanghai, China in 2016 to help create awareness of our capabilities.”

The success of small- and medium-sized businesses is critical to the region’s future, and increasing their global reach is crucial to that success. Through the MetroConnect Prize, companies such as IriSys received $10,000 in grants to assist with their next step going global.


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October 16, 2015

This is part of an ongoing series on the recipients of the MetroConnect Prize, presented by JPMorgan Chase, a grant awarded to 15 companies looking to expand into new foreign markets.

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

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

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

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

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

The success of small businesses is critical to the region’s future, and increasing their global reach is crucial to that success. Through the MetroConnect Prize, companies such as AirStrip received $10,000 grants to assist with their next step in going global.

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

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

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October 2, 2015

This is part of an ongoing series on the recipients of the MetroConnect Prize, presented by JPMorgan Chase, a grant awarded to 15 companies looking to expand into new foreign markets.

Surgeons carving and printing replica human ears. Bakers building edible delicacies from their computer. Doctors deploying printed materials to replace a man’s skull.

This isn’t science fiction anymore. These are actual examples of the capabilities of 3D printing.

According to Wohlers Report 2015, the 3D printing industry grew at a compound annual rate of 35.2 percent to $4.1 billion in 2014. Additionally, the industry is expected to grow to $12.8 billion by 2018, and exceed $21 billion in worldwide revenue by 2020.

However, due to the high priced systems, not many students or entrepreneurs have access to these systems.

“Back in 2011, we looked around and instead of forking up $2000 for a personal 3d printing machine, we decided to build one ourselves,” said Braydon Moreno, CEO at ROBO 3D, in an interview.

The idea that he and his team can create a more affordable 3D printer spawned the creation of ROBO 3D. With support from the region’s strong robotics and tech industries, ROBO 3D has experienced major growth over the last few years.

“San Diego is the foundation by which we began building this company,” said Moreno. “We engaged with numerous San Diego based companies early on such as CONNECT and the Qualcomm Robotics Accelerator program to help us gain traction and further boost the credibility of our company and brand.”

Having a globally recognized brand has opened many doors for ROBO 3D – targeting Germany, the United Kingdom, and France for its international expansion. In using the funds from the MetroConnect Prize, ROBO 3D is establishing a beachhead operation in Europe, opening a new division to gain a larger share of the market.  

The success of small businesses is critical to the region’s future, and increasing their global reach is crucial to that success. Through the MetroConnect Prize, companies such as ROBO 3D received $10,000 grants to assist with their next step in going global.

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September 24, 2015

This is part of an ongoing series on the recipients of the MetroConnect Prize, presented by JPMorgan Chase, a grant awarded to 15 companies looking to expand into new foreign markets.

Living in San Diego, businesses and its employees are fortunate to have the highest quality of life – with more than 3,055 hours of year round sunshine, access to nationally recognized beaches, and touted as one of the healthiest cities in the nation. San Diegans are able to go surfing in morning, go to work during the day, and make a tee time just before dinner.

Due in part because of the region’s high quality of life, San Diego’s Sports and Active Lifestyle (SAL) industry cluster is one of the most concentrated among major metropolitan regions in the U.S. In the economic impact study released by EDC in 2013, SAL in San Diego represented more than 1,200 businesses and approximately 23,000 employees.

No wonder that VAVi Sport & Social is quickly becoming one of the most prominent sport league and social event organizers in the nation. VAVi’s beginnings were in creating and carrying out sports leagues around the county – from kickball to dodgeball to soccer. Soon VAVi began to organize large scale events – like the Del Mar Mud Run, taking place this weekend for its 6th consecutive year, and the Ridiculous Obstacle Course (ROC) race.

In February of this year, VAVi announced it would be partnering with Endemol, the producers of “Wipeout”, to organize and promote the WIPEOUT Run. Now the new ROC race, WIPEOUT Run has more than quadrupled the size of VAVi in the last two years.

“In terms of size, WIPEOUT Run is 80 percent of our business,” said Steve Stoloff, CEO of VAVi, in an interview with ABC 10.

And the next step for VAVi?

“VAVi is bringing its hit 5k obstacle series, ROC Race, to Australia,” said Stoloff. “The funds from MetroConnect will support our marketing and business development efforts in Melbourne and Sydney.”

Demand in Australia for the ROC race has been off the charts. According to Stoloff, “…the race sold out in less than 72 hours and we are getting ready to launch an additional day.”

The success of region’s small- and medium-sized businesses is critical to the region’s future, and increasing their global reach is crucial to that success. Through the MetroConnect Prize, companies such as VAVi Sport & Social received $10,000 grants to assist with their next step in going global.


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