San Francisco has long been a key hub for the biotechnology industry and although its predominant status has recently been under threat from Boston, it still remains a leading global biotech cluster for innovation.
The Bay Area Biotech Cluster, covers many areas across Northern California, including the city of San Francisco. The Bay area is highly developed because of a network of academic institutions, hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, biotechs and service companies, as well as a strong entrepreneurial culture supported by investment capital. The Bay Area biotech cluster now contains over 1400 companies in life sciences, directly employs around 52,000 people and contributes sales revenues of more than $29bn.
The bay area, or Bay Bio, has a number of world leading research institutions and academic centres within reasonable proximity. The University of San Francisco, Stanford and UC Berkeley all reside within the cluster giving the Bay Area an enviable pool of young researchers and newly qualified graduates. Alongside the world renowned universities San Francisco accounts for a number of the USA’s leading research institutions including The Francis J. Curry National Tuberculosis Center, National AIDs/HIV Clinician’s Consultation Centre and The Gladstone Institutes. The cluster can boast a number of nobel prize winners and eminent leaders in the life science field, such as Dr Shinya Yamanaka at the Gladstone Institute who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2012 for his discovery of how to transform ordinary adult skin cells into cells that, like embryonic stem cells, can then develop into virtually any other type of cell in the body.
The Bay Area and Silicon Valley is an area home to some of the world’s largest and most successful venture capital, private equity and investment banks. The technological and science innovations emanating from the region have compelled leading investors to establish a presence here. Among these leading venture capital firms include; 5AM Ventures, Acacia Venture Partners, Burril & Company, Alta Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Venrock, and SV Life Sciences Advisors . In 2012 companies in the Bay Area cluster raised in excess of $2.37bn in venture capital funding which is almost double its nearest rival Boston. The impressive amount of venture capital raised by companies in the Bay Area Cluster combined with NIH funding, $1.36bn, means that in 2012 the Bay Area cluster raised in excess of $3.73bn. The Bay Area was second only to Boston ($4.13bn) in total funding in 2012.
The Bay Area biotech cluster contains some of the most successful global pharmaceutical companies in the world, including Genentech (Roche), Gilead and Johnson & Johnson, who recently established one of their innovation centres in the area.
The Bay Area has also been a beneficiary of Silicon Valley. Silicon Valley is world renowned for companies in the hi-tech space, with companies such as Apple, Google and Facebook all residing in the area. This has been a big draw for many professionals looking to move to the cluster, as well as attracting a number of investors. With high-wealth individuals and angel investors who have made fortunes from their technology companies, there remains a very strong level of capital support for innovative start-ups. Biotech and pharma is also increasingly looking to the convergence of medicine and technology, looking towards things like mHealth to drive healthcare in the future. Google’s recently demonstrated this appetite to look at other areas with its creation of healthcare company Calico. Google has certainly demonstrated its commitment by hiring ex Genentech CEO Art Levinson and Roche veteran Hal Barron to lead the company.
With some of the world’s leading academics, pharma companies, biotechs and investors within the cluster, the Bay Area Biotech Cluster with its San Francisco epicentre must still be considered one of the strongest biotech clusters in the world. With an excellent history and reputation in drug development innovation, the cluster shows no sign of stopping its domination of the global biotech and pharma markets. Liftstream believes this cluster is an exceptional place to develop a career in the sector and with so many exciting start-ups and established companies, it should be a hot-bed for future research and innovation.
For more information about the Bay Area cluster please see: