Each year, Biocom, a global-reaching life science industry association based in California with over 1,300 member companies, publishes its Economic Impact Report quantifying the impact of the life science industry on the California economy. The report typically analyzes key life science geographic clusters, such as the Bay Area, Los Angeles and San Diego. This year, however, we took it a step further and explored the many unique subregions that exist within the Bay Area’s thriving life science industry.

In 2019, Alameda County’s approximately 700 life science companies generated more than $23 billion in economic activity, employed nearly 35,000 people locally and contributed to another 50,000 local jobs in indirect and induced employment. The industry increased Alameda County labor income by $7.7 billion and industry employees averaged $127,173 per employee in wages., with much of that income recirculating within the East Bay economy.

Research and Lab Services make up the highest concentration of establishments and employment in the County, at over 370 establishments and 21,000 jobs. This subsector includes biotechnology and nanotechnology R&D, medical labs, contract testing labs, and higher education. Medical Device and Diagnostics subsectors play an increasingly important role, with approximately 150 companies and 8,000 workers involved in the development and manufacture of lab equipment, optical instruments, and electromedical apparatuses, among others. Biopharmaceutical manufacturing continues to be a driver of growth, with approximately 50 firms and 3,300 workers involved in the production of medicines, pharmaceuticals, in-vitro diagnostic substances and related products.

Even within Alameda County, there remain distinct clusters of life science companies and specialization. For instance, the Emeryville-Berkeley submarket is home to numerous startups and early-stage companies, many of which are UC Berkeley spinouts. To the south, Fremont and its neighboring cities have cultivated a formidable concentration of life science companies, including many mature and established businesses. For this reason, the average life science firm size in Fremont is four times the average size of life science companies within the broader Bay Area. Many of these businesses are engaged in medical device and biopharmaceutical manufacturing, including companies like Boehringer Ingelheim, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and Stryker.

The East Bay is home to a well-educated workforce and over 47% of Alameda County adults hold a bachelor’s or graduate degree, making it one of the most highly educated counties in the state.  Importantly, the life science industry in Alameda County provides employment for a wide range of education and skill levels. In an employment market where it is increasingly difficult to find middle-wage jobs, the life science industry provides workers a range of options and valuable technical skills training.

Despite all the challenges COVID-19 has created, the Bay Area life science industry has remained strong.  Faced with an unprecedented pandemic, many of Biocom’s members are on the front lines of the COVID-19 response by researching vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics, and manufacturing critical supplies and equipment for testing.

Biocom will continue to advocate on behalf of the California life science industry and bring the companies and personnel together to share information and best practices. Our mission is to accelerate life science success, and the pandemic has made this work more important than ever. If you belong to a life sciences organization, we encourage you to put in a request for our free PPE program and review our Path Forward guide, a playbook for safely reopening.

I hope you all stay safe and healthy, and remember we are in this together.