The North Bay Life Science Alliance (NBLSA) has released its annual report for 2016. Prepared by the Marin Economic Forum, the report highlights growth in life science jobs in the four county region (Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Solano), significant economic investment in the industry in the form of both grants and venture capital funding, and significant expenditure on commercial real estate. As the report indicates, the North Bay’s four counties are focused on life science as an economic development target, and actively pursuing new and expanding businesses in the area.
Existing Business Cluster: There are approximately 470 life-science-related branches and businesses in the region, representing over 20 sub-industries. Notable residents include BioMarin, with approximately 1,200 employees, alongside Genentech, Medtronic and TriVascular. Over 90 of these businesses have global reach.
Investment: Since 2005, NBLSA counties have generated $10-$15 million annually in National Institute of Health (NIH) grant-funding. Additionally, over $2 million is reported to have been invested in US-based life science companies in the fourth quarter of 2015 alone, with a significant portion of that investment going towards biotech and medical device firms, areas where the North Bay is strongly represented. Indeed, in Marin County, biotechnology is second only to software in terms of VC investment
Commercial Space: Rising real estate prices in San Francisco and San Mateo County have made the North Bay an increasingly attractive destination, with some companies opting to sublease space. Novato’s Buck Institute for Research on Aging now houses a number of smaller companies. Meanwhile, BioMarin chose to expand their footprint in San Rafael by 315,000 square feet. The NBLSA has identified a number of potential sites suitable for life science expansion, including a 700,000 square feet building in northern Novato, in addition to office space in Rohnert Park, and industrial space in Solano County.
Employment and Cost of Living: The North Bay has an educated and skilled workforce, with growth in life science employment consistently trending upwards from below 8,000 in 2010 to above 10,000 by the end of 2015. Meanwhile the housing market for single family homes places all four counties below San Mateo in and San Francisco in terms of median house prices.
Transportation: In 2016, the North Bay counties of Sonoma and Marin will be connected by a new light rail system, the Sonoma-Marin Area Rapid Transit or SMART. This service will connects residential areas in these two counties with major commercial real estate stops to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal, which then connects the North Bay to San Francisco through mass transportation. This is anticipated to provide time and cost savings for all businesses in the North Bay.
To view the full report, please visit the 2016 NBLSA Annual Report webpage.