The West Coast of the United States is the focus of the Welsh Government’s latest trade mission when First Minister, Carwyn Jones, arrives in San Francisco with a group of leading Welsh businesses today (Mon 11th Feb).

The First Minister will be leading a delegation of 18 Welsh companies from a number of sectors, including life sciences, ICT, and the creative industries to promote trade and potential inward investment in Wales.

“The United States remains the world’s premier economic power and engaging with businesses there is essential for Wales,” said the First Minister.

“That is why I am in San Francisco to lead a Welsh Government trade mission with a focus on innovation. The city and wider area enjoys world-class status, with thriving business and academic communities.”

Wales World Wide chairman Steve Howell is taking part in the trade mission to develop contacts in the San Francisco Bay Area who can help build an online community with an affinity for Wales.

He said: “Thousands of people in California have connections with Wales – whether family, academic or professional – and our aim is simply to gather them together in a business network providing the contacts and information-sharing that are so vital for trade and investment.

“Online networking and face-to-face meetings are equally important parts of a single process of building the relationships that open the way to business growth.”

Silicon Valley is a renowned hub for the incubation and development of emerging technologies. With a GDP of $487 billion (2009), the bay area ranks 22nd in the world when compared to national economies and is at the cutting edge of global technology.

The First Minister will meet with business, political and academic leaders in San Francisco and Silicon Valley to highlight Wales’s long culture of innovation, entrepreneurship, collaboration and opportunities for transatlantic success.

“This is an opportunity to learn from this vibrant market and to seek out opportunities for Wales and Welsh companies,” added the First Minister. “It is vitally important in my role as First Minister that I seek to build relationships that will open doors for Welsh business.

“A number of Welsh businesses are here with me for this unique opportunity to explore the potential for Welsh businesses to tap into this market and explore investment opportunities. As well as a series of business events I will be holding talks with the Mayor of San Francisco. International trade is vitally important for the Welsh economy and Welsh Government overseas missions are tailored to help businesses make the most of the all the opportunities presented.”

As well as Wales World Wide, other companies joining the First Minister include Simbec Research, BSP Technology, Licentia Group, Caerbont Automotive, City School of Languages, SEASUK, Kaimai Research, Rantmedia and GL Jones Playgrounds.

Welsh pharmaceutical specialist, Biotec International Services, will also be joining the collection of businesses attending the US mission. Tony Street, director of business development, and Paul Viggers, business development manager, will be representing the Bridgend-based firm.

“Biotec are delighted to be part of the Welsh Government trade mission to San Francisco. This gives us a great opportunity to meet new targets as well as building on existing relationships with clients,” explained Paul Viggers.

“We are facilitating a workshop as part of the trade mission with a view to discussing and sharing best practice in relation to Biotech and pharma companies. The workshop topic focuses on the issues faced by these companies when running clinical trials within the EU and beyond. We are excited to be involved with this trade mission and are confident about the future prospects it may provide Biotec.”

Over the four day trade mission, the First Minister will meet the Mayor of San Francisco and hold talks with the economic development officials from the Governor’s Office. He will also hold talks with the high-profile and very significant California-based technology companies and institutions, including the Silicon Valley Bank. The British Consul General in San Francisco will give the First Minister a briefing on the trade opportunities in the area, as will the Jaclyn Mason, head of UK Trade & Invest in the city.