The World Cup is not the only place where countries are coming together, all seeking the same prize. This week, countries, regions, and companies from across the globe flocked to California for the 2014 BIO International Convention, taking their best “shots” at scoring more biotechnology business. As a City with biotech/biomedical as its largest single cluster, there was no better place for us to be than in the middle of the trade show floor. The World Cup is not just a fun and well-timed analogy, but very applicable given the sea of international flags that blanketed the convention floor, with governments at all levels celebrating this industry. In fact, perhaps no other industry receives theamount of attention biotech does, given that it links industry, government, research/academia, and finance.

And then, of course, there is the economic impact. California exemplifies this point more than most places do. Dubbed as the birthplace of biotech, California was on full display at BIO. Kish Rajan, director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, opened the California Pavilion with a rousing talk, expressing the state’s commitment to stimulating biotech growth. He highlighted the implementation of policies that are making the case for biotech business even better, such as the new sales tax exemption, tax credits, and inspection streamlining. He also emphasized the State’s efforts to grow international trade relationships, using the opportunity to sign an MOU with Israel right there at the convention!

MOU signing between State of California and State of Israel

We also heard from California-based biotech CEOs about why biotech manufacturing is on the rise at “Made in California.” This was right up our alley, not only because most of Fremont’s biotech/biomedical companies have manufacturing operations, but also because Fremont-based biotech contract manufacturer Boehringer Ingelheim’s Michael Howaldt was a member of this group. As head of one of the company’s most cutting-edge manufacturing facilities in the United States, Howaldt explained the Fremont site’s proficiency in three categories: “state-of-the-art services, technology know-how, and a great place to work.” He also stressed the importance of collaborations available in the Bay Area with premier universities and industry networks like BayBio and the East Bay Biomedical Manufacturing Network.

Michael Howaldt (left) discusses Boehringer Ingelheim’s Fremont manufacturing facility.

As if all this activity werenst exciting enough, the 2014 California Economic Impact and Talent Integration Reports were unveiled and presented by BayBio, Biocom, and the East Bay Biomedical Manufacturing Network. There is no doubt that bio is experiencing a boom and California is leading the way, bringing more treatments to patients than any other state. California also led with biotech IPOs (23 in the last two years), adding to what is already a $258 billion industry here. As an active member of the East Bay Biomedical Manufacturing Network, we were particularly interested in Dr. Gregory Theyel’s research on life science workforce trends. The key takeaways included an analysis of who is hiring and what their needs are, a close look at the trending demand for integrated skills, and action items for all biotech stakeholders to pursue “in order to develop the talent needed to meet the industry’s new challenges and opportunities.”

Biotech’s staggering impact on CA economy

Alameda County boasts more STEM completions that anywhere else in Northern CA, with nearly half!

If the recent successful IPO from Ardelyx and pending IPOof Zosano Pharma (both Fremont-based) are any indication, Fremont has much to gain from California’s bio boom.