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The Big Picture San Diego Blog


July 29, 2015

This is part of an ongoing series on the recipients of the MetroConnect Prize, a grant awarded to 15 companies looking to expand into new foreign markets. Subscribe here to receive new posts every Wednesday on this topic.

There are 3.2 billion base pairs in your genome. Although all of this information is contained within a single cell, decoding it – and thus understanding many diseases and pathologies – is a challenge.  

San Diego-based Cypher Genomics, winner of the MetroConnect Prize, may be changing that.

We’re working to translate your genome into actionable information to impact human health,” said Adam Simpson, COO of Cypher Genomics at the MetroConnect launch on July 1.

Cypher is working to solve a large problem facing the genomics industry – genome interpretation. As one of the 15 winners of the MetroConnect Prize, Cypher will be taking its genome decoding technology to the rest of the globe. 

SMEs represent the vast majority of businesses in the region and are responsible for much of the innovation and job creation activity that propels our economy. The success of these firms is critical to the region’s future, and increasing their global reach is crucial to that success. Through the MetroConnect Prize, companies such as Cypher Genomics received $10,000 grants to assist with their next step in going global.

Cypher plans to use the prize money to advance business development efforts around the globe including in the United Kingdom, Japan and China. Not only are these countries that can benefit from genomics technology, but they are also among San Diego’s top five trade partners. Simpson is currently en route to the U.K. to use some of the funds.

As Cypher has learned, they’re not promoting their own business, but also the San Diego region. San Diego is known across the globe as a major contender in the life sciences industry.  Just last week, JLL found that San Diego had the fourth largest life sciences cluster in the nation.  Although we may have just missed the top three, when it comes to genomics, San Diego is the gold standard.

Like many successful San Diego life sciences firms, Cypher traces its roots back to our research institutes on the Mesa. What started as an idea inside of the Scripps Research Institute has morphed into a 10 plus person company. Chaired by industry vet Hank Nordoff (Hank also chaired EDC’s board from 2004 -2006), Cypher is in good company with many other leading genomics companies including Illumina, Sequenom and others.  

We have incredible academic institutions. We have access to incredible talent, wonderful people, and great companies. San Diego really is THE city for genomics, said Simpson.

The MetroConnect Prize is made possible by JPMorgan Chase & Co.

You can read Cypher Genomics' blog post about the MetroConnect prize here.

July 15, 2015

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


In 2014, EDC released its Cybersecurity in San Diego: An Economic Impact and Industry Assessment report. According to data from 2014, more than 100 cyber firms employed at least 3,500 private sector employees and supported more than 13,000 jobs in the region. The cybersecurity industry had an economic impact of more than $1.5 billion.

Additionally, in 2014, the industry was projected to grow by more than 14 percent in San Diego, and globally, by more than 10 percent.

With impressive numbers like that, it is easy to see why San Diego has become a hotbed for cyber companies looking to take advantage of this market - especially for a company like EdgeWave, a company that began as a San Diego startup and now employs more than 65 people. 

“EdgeWave’s unique combination of expert U.S. military cybersecurity veterans with advanced technology mirrors the San Diego community, and illustrates why San Diego is the right city to lead the way in securing the global economy,” said Dave Maquera, EdgeWave president and CEO. 

On July 1st, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, San Diego Regional EDC, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and business and civic leaders, unveiled 15 companies, including EdgeWave, who were selected to receive the MetroConnect Prize. Managed by EDC, and presented by JPMorgan Chase, the MetroConnect Prize grants these San Diego companies $10,000 each in order to assist with developing international business opportunities.

EdgeWave secures over 6,000 companies worldwide by providing internet security, email security, next generation firewall, and network security solutions.

EdgeWave was awarded the prize based on its current relationships and its planned usage of the funds. With about 10 percent of its revenue coming from foreign sources, EdgeWave intends to target the Philippines and China as part of its international growth strategy.

“Cyber attacks threaten the growth of the global economy and we are all affected by the damage done by hackers,” said Maquera, “EdgeWave is confronting this cyber threat with a global focus.  We are successfully expanding into Asia with new large enterprise customer wins and have partnered with Huawei Technologies, a worldwide information & communications technology leader, to expand into other markets around the globe.”

Global engagement is essential if San Diego wants to catalyze its economy and workforce. The benefits of companies going global and engaging foreign markets are well-documented. According to the Brookings Institution, companies that are global pay their employees higher wages, are less likely to go out of business, and spur more efficient development of technology and R&D.

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May 29, 2015

Earlier this week, the Brookings Institution published The 10 Lessons from Global Trade and Investment Planning in U.S. Metro Areas.

As one of the pilot cities in the development of a trade and investment plan, San Diego has learned a lot about itself in its ability to better compete globally. Below are the lessons learned:


(1) The primary benefit of global trade and investment is increased competitiveness, not quick jobs.

There is a reason the goal of the Go Global initiative is to maximize San Diego’s global competitiveness and prosperity through increased global engagement: increasing exports and attracting foreign investment (FDI) take time. Once a company decides to go global and export, it takes the firm 18 months on average to finally get its product abroad. 


(2) The most important firms are the ones you already have.

When more than 98 percent of the national job growth comes from startups and business expansions, it’s hard to ignore San Diego’s most important assets – its own companies.  When Takeda Pharmaceuticals, one of the oldest and largest companies in Japan, decided to condense its West Coast operations, it chose San Diego – closing the San Francisco office and moving those jobs into the region. 



(3) FDI and exports are closely linked.

Innovation-based industries that export San Diego’s leading products and services are also the drivers of FDI into the region. Reinforcing this relationship, FDI in these industries has catalyzed international exports as parent companies open new markets for San Diego establishments.  Aerospace products, pharmaceuticals, communications equipment, and semiconductors – all of which are strong exporting industries and large sources of FDI. 


(4) Leading with real specializations opens doors for firms.

Case in point: Go Global San Diego Strategy 4, Tactic 5: Reinforce research institutions leading innovation. Leading with San Diego’s premier research institutions will enable the spillover effects these institutions create – starting new companies and growing jobs. Hybritech, San Diego’s first biotech company, was co-founded by two professors from UC San Diego. Since then, UC San Diego’s faculty, staff, and students have founded more than 640 companies. 

“Our location is key for collaboration and talent recruitment with institutions like UCSD and Scripps. These assets make San Diego an attractive place for foreign firms to establish U.S. beachheads.” – San Diego pharmaceutical company                                                


(5) The middle market offers outsized opportunities.

EDC’s MetroConnect prize, funded by JPMorgan Chase, will assist small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in their ability to go global. SMEs represent more than 99 percent of businesses in the region and are responsible for much of the innovation and job creation activity that propels our economy. The success of these firms is critical to the region’s future, and increasing their global reach is crucial to that success.


(6) Mergers and acquisitions are the dominant form of FDI.

Of the FDI that came to San Diego between 1991 and 2011, 60 percent did so through M&A activity. This represents more than 72,600 jobs that transferred from domestic to foreign ownership. Post-acquisition, some of these companies continue to grow. Althea Technologies, acquired by Japanese food and chemical company Ajinomoto, has had access to new markets and new capital previously unseen by the company, growing by more than 20 percent since its acquisition.


(7) Global engagement must be a demonstrated priority.

Focus on high impact trade missions. Implement a global identity campaign. Build a proactive protocol network of civic and business organizations. Retain and attract international flight routes to key markets.

One thing these tactics have in common is that organizations throughout San Diego must have a mindset and culture that is global in nature. Having one organization carry the weight of interacting with global players is a lot of work. Having a network of organizations that work together in attracting new flights, execute trade missions, and implement a global identity ensures San Diego can reap the benefits of global connectivity. 


(8) Global commerce is driven by relationships and networks.

San Diego is one of the most active binational cross-border regions in the world. Global trends are making Mexico, and Baja California in particular, an increasingly favorable location for manufacturing. Their proximity to San Diego gives our region a clear competitive advantage.


(9) Metro areas are unsure of how to harness emerging forms of global capital.

When it comes to global patent intensity, San Diego ranks third, yet when compared to U.S. cities, it ranks a distant eighth in terms of the amount of venture capital activity in the region. Because of this, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, research institutions, and a whole host of other entities are increasingly looking to alternative sources of capital – EB-5, limited partners, sovereign wealth funds, corporate partnerships. Finding ways to leverage these resources can help bridge these capital gaps. 


(10) Competing on a global scale requires that metros intensify efforts on other critical economic issues.

“Workforce and infrastructure have consistently surfaced as the two issues that are increasingly threatening the competitiveness of companies and regions.” Feeding talent to companies and releasing the bottleneck from inefficient infrastructure can improve economic competitiveness and help grow the economy. Hence why the Link2 series, activating alumni networks, and modernizing key infrastructure assets are all key tactics of the Go Global San Diego initiative.


March 13, 2015

MetroConnect Header

Go Global San Diego has laid out the facts. If San Diego wants to compete in a global marketplace, it must encourage companies to increase their global engagement. JPMorgan Chase & Co. has stepped up to the plate to catalyze small and medium sized enterprises to take their businesses to the rest of the world.

At the Go Global San Diego Summit on Wednesday, San Diego Regional EDC and JPMorgan Chase announced the MetroConnect Prize. MetroConnect will provide selected company with up to $10,000 in matching funds to cover up to 50 percent of the costs associated with the company’s next steps to going global.

Thanks to support from the JPMorgan Chase & Co., San Diego Regional EDC will award the MetroConnect Prize to at least 20 companies trying to take their innovative products abroad, secure strategic partnerships and boost international sales, that ultimately translates into increased economic activity in San Diego.

Deadline to apply is May 4. Head over to to learn more and apply.