Life Science Sector Thrives In Bay Area

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October 31, 2016

By: Christian Basconcillo, Research Manager, JLL

While the tech sector grabs most of the headlines in the Bay Area these days, there is also a thriving life science economy here.

According to JLL’s 2016 Life Sciences Outlook, robust clusters have been established throughout the Bay Area with South San Francisco, Silicon Valley and the East Bay communities of Berkeley and Emeryville particularly well populated.


Education in the Bay Area

From a research and development perspective, the Bay Area has been the source for new, innovative technology spanning across multiple industries.  Bay Area colleges such as Stanford, UC Berkeley, and UCSF have dedicated programs focused on the development of future life science professionals. The outflow of new graduates and the well-established presence of major life science companies allow the Bay Area as a whole to attract the best and brightest scientists from around the world.

Space is limited

One sign of the industry’s success in the Bay Area: There is a lack of available high-finish, research lab space.  Over the past four years the demand for lab space has steadily risen, and as a result the available space in prime life science clusters is in very short supply with companies tying up space often before it is completed.  Late last year, Aduro Biotech, which in April 2015 completed the largest IPO of any company in Berkeley history, gobbled up all 110,000 square feet of 740 Heinz, a new lab building in Wareham Development’s Aquatic Park campus.

Speculative lab developments

For the first time in five years, we’re witnessing large, speculative lab developments break ground to alleviate supply constraints.  Wareham gets underway next month with vertical construction of EmeryStation West, a 200,000 square foot building atop an intermodal transit center in Emeryville’s thriving life science cluster.  In South San Francisco, several large projects are already underway and the purchase earlier this year of a fully entitled life science development at Oyster Point by a Chinese development firm suggests further product is on its way.

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