July 5, 2023

Episode 7: Mapping the Growth of the Bay Area’s Life Science Industry and Providing Startups with the Tools to Scale and Seed

The San Francisco Bay Area is known as the “birthplace of biotech,” but did you know the local biomedical industry—companies developing new drugs and foods, medical devices and equipment, digital healthcare, and more—number in the thousands in the region? And that where a life science company first sets up shop in the Bay Area can indicate where it may move to in the future?

Gregory Theyel, Ph.D., a biomedical engineer and professor at California State University East Bay, discovered this ten years ago when he first sought out startups to help through the nonprofit Biomedical Manufacturing Network—an organization collectively started by UC Berkeley, Manex, and government entities to support the local biomedical ecosystem and provide companies with roadmaps to success—where he serves as program director. He wanted to find out where these companies were located in the Bay Area, but a comprehensive database with this information didn’t exist. A self-professed “map guy,” Gregory collected the data and built a heat map plotting each biomedical manufacturing company in the region from the ground up. The Biomedical Manufacturing Network, which originated from grant support, studies and shares this data: about 1,000 companies were identified when they first began. Today, there are 2,500.

How can all this information in the network be used? Through this project, Gregory identified three economic “microclimates” in the Bay Area and spotted relocation trends as companies grow and need funding, which enables him to assist with location strategy. Various businesses and entities are wanting this data, too: realtors can forecast which companies need more space; service providers, lawyers, and contract research organizations can find potential customers; and government agencies and nonprofits can locate companies that need funding. The network’s long-term goal is to facilitate the transfer of manufacturing technology between labs, universities and companies, and keep the infrastructure for a biomedical manufacturing ecosystem in the Bay Area.

We hear more from Gregory about how the Biomedical Manufacturing Network can assist startups and what kind of companies they are looking for, learn about the Tech Futures Group—another association he belongs to which helps startups find resources, capital and more—the latest technologies he’s excited about, and why he was a pioneer in online teaching.  Learn more about the Biomedical Manufacturing Network. Interested in becoming a member or joining us on the LifeLines podcast? Email [email protected].

Host: Chris Conner
Executive Producer: Marie Tutko
Senior Producer: Vincenzo Tarantino
Associate Producer: Lauren Panetta
Program Research Coordinator: Katy Burgess
Transcripts By: Jessica Schneider
Senior Director of Marketing: Heather Ramsay
Graphic Design By: Raquel Papike