Downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone
The MetroConnect program offers San Diego companies opportunities to grow, while making an impact abroad.. Photo by Chris Stone

World Trade Center San Diego has unveiled the sixth cohort of companies selected for MetroConnect, an export development program to help local companies accelerate growth.

Businesses in the group, including Bay Area tech transplant Benchmark Labs, hard kombucha brewer Novo Brazil Brewing and environmental science firm Solecta, represent a cross-section of San Diego’s innovation economy, according to trade center officials.

They unveiled the new cohort, joined by San Diego City Council member Raul Campillo, at UCSD’s new Park & Market location.

“I’m proud to support and welcome WTCSD’s new cohort, and look forward to seeing the companies’ impact on a global scale,” said San Diego City Council member Raul Campillo. “Programs like MetroConnect help ensure the world knows just what San Diego is made of –innovative, high-impact products and services across a wide range of industries.”

The other MetroConnect VI companies are:

  • Access Trax
  • Critter Technology
  • GigalO
  • Golden Coast Mead
  • iAssay
  • Nano PharmaSolutions
  • Primo Energy
  • Real Dog Box
  • Shop My Porch
  • Sparsha Pharma USA
  • The Good Face
  • Trabus Technologies

MetroConnect offers small- and medium-sized companies a suite of financial and program resources to support expansion in foreign markets. That includes up to $30,000 in grant funding, mentorship, advising on funding opportunities, such as the State Trade Expansion Program, and workshops on export-related topics.

Since the program’s debut in 2015, 80 MetroConnect alumni have collectively added 269 new jobs to the region and signed more than 543 new contracts, while setting up 22 new overseas facilities.

On average, cohort companies grow their exports by an average of 63%, and revenues by 40% as part of the program.

Alumni include Blue Sky Network, Aira (acquired by Blue Diego Investment Group),, Modern Times, Dr. Bronner’s, Cypher Genomics (acquired by Human Longevity Inc.), Planck Aerosystems and Bitchin’ Sauce.

Aaron Ryan, executive director for San Diego Middle Market Banking at JPMorgan Chase, a program underwriter, called MetroConnect “vital to San Diego’s continued economic growth as it connects some of the area’s most promising local businesses with the rest of the world”

In 2021, San Diego exported more than $22 billion in goods overseas, while also making a significant impact in the provision of services such as software, cybersecurity, engineering and research. Small and medium businesses produce 92% of this output, officials said.

Nikia Clarke, executive director of World Trade Center San Diego, said that MetroConnect continues to “help ensure (that) San Diego’s small and mid-sized businesses have the tools needed to weather future economic downturns, grow quality jobs, and share San Diego’s life-changing innovation with the world.”