Walid Soussou of Wearable Sensing with one of his company's products. Photo by Chris Jennewein
Walid Soussou of Wearable Sensing with one of his company’s products. Photo by Chris Jennewein

Fifteen small- and medium-sized San Diego companies were awarded $10,000 each on Wednesday to help them pursue international sales efforts.

Funded by JPMorgan Chase, the MetroConnect Prize is designed to help small- and medium-sized enterprises enter the international market. A total of 64 companies vied for the award.

“Supporting the MetroConnect Prize is one more way we’re helping San Diego businesses navigate the world marketplae,” said Nikki Atkins Hartung, senior vice president for JPMorgan Chase in San Diego.

In addition to the monetary prize, Japan Airlines is providing the winners with discounted tickets to Japan to develop markets in that country.

Mark Cafferty, president and CEO of the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp., which managed the prize process, said helping companies grow in international markets is a big opportunity for San Diego.

“Companies that go global — that play in the international market — pay higher wages that those that don’t,” he said.

The prize orginates in the Go Global San Diego effort launched in March by Mayor Kevin Faulconer and more than 30 regional partners. The MetroConnect Prize was then created as an incentive.

“Opportunity starts in San Diego, and with MetroConnect, we are helping our successful, home-grown San Diego startups so they can share that opportunity across our local economy and spread San Diego’s innovative products and services across the world,” said Faulconer at a ceremony at the airport honoring the winners.

“Our San Diego startups are changing the world,” he added.

The 15 companies selected to receive the $10,000 prize are:

Later this year, one or two of the companies will receive additional funding based on their initial efforts in the form of a grand prize.

Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.