A San Diego-based craft brewer run by a UCSD cognitive science graduate won a $35,000 prize Thursday that will help pay for international expansion efforts.

From left: San Diego Councilman Mark Kersey, Rough Draft Brewing’s Jeff Silver and Nikia Clarke, executive director of World Trade Center San Diego. Photo via sandiegobusiness.org

Rough Draft Brewing earned the grand prize in the second annual MetroConnect competition, organized by World Trade Center San Diego. The family owned brewery is known for its India pale ales and operates a Miramar-area tasting room.

Rough Draft was one of five finalists in the competition, part of a larger effort to encourage San Diego companies to expand their global reach.

“We want to thank World Trade Center San Diego, JPMorgan Chase and all those who participated in making this a memorable and meaningful event,” said Jeff Silver, president of Rough Draft Brewing and 1994 UCSD graduate. “We deeply appreciate receiving the Grand Prize in recognition of our efforts and look forward to continued success on the international level.”​

Last year, 15 companies were awarded $10,000 each. According to the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corp., the firms produced an additional $6 million in export sales and 42 new jobs for the region.

“The success we’ve seen throughout the course of the MetroConnect program helps validate the importance of metro engagement on a global level,” said Mark Cafferty, EDC president and CEO. “From securing a joint venture in China to selling to software customers in Canada, the MetroConnect grand prize winners have worked hard to engage foreign markets, catalyzing our region’s economy and workforce.”

The other finalists were Deering Banjo Company, a musical instrument manufacturer in Spring Valley; Manta Instruments, which makes products for particle analysis in University City; Calbiotech, a Spring Valley maker of medical equipment; and VaultRMS, a San Diego firm that developed a cloud-based system that tracks firefighters’ exposure to carcinogens.

— City News Service contributed to this report.

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