While many know Fremont as the “Capital for Advanced Manufacturing in Silicon Valley,” the amount of innovative, life-saving equipment and medical devices that are made in our city may come as a surprise. Fremont is home to over 115 biomedical companies, of which more than 100 make medical devices and equipment.


This past Tuesday, Fremont Mayor Lily Mei joined the mayors of Newark, Union City, and Milpitas at a mayoral roundtable event at the Pacific Research Center in Newark. Hosted by life science industry association Biocom, the event brought together business leaders from the four-city sub-region — sometimes referred to as Northern Silicon Valley — providing an opportunity for the biotech business community to hear directly from their elected officials and ask questions about pertinent issues.


Prior to the roundtable discussion with the mayors, attendees received an update on the Bay Area life science industry from Dr. Gregory Theyel of the Biomedical Manufacturing Network. Dr. Theyel’s research focuses extensively on the clustering of different segments of the life science industry and the factors that influence company location decisions. According to Dr. Theyel, the term Silicon Valley is increasingly becoming a misnomer as the region continues to grow the number of life science companies located here as it becomes a premier innovation hub.


Through his findings, Dr. Theyel separates the Bay Area into five sub-regions that he refers to as “Microclimates of Biomedical Innovation and Entrepreneurship.” Fremont and the other Northern Silicon Valley cities encompass what Dr. Theyel refers to as the scale-up region for biomedical activity. Our region is characterized by more established companies that are looking for space — and skilled workforce — to expand their operations. In fact, the biomedical companies in the scale-up region are twice the size of the Bay Area average and have the highest rate of business survival of the five sub-regions.


After Dr. Theyel’s deep dive into the state of the regional life science industry, the mayors convened to share updates on developments happening in their cities and fielded questions. Mayor Mei emphasized the City’s “high-touch” approach to supporting businesses launching or expanding in Fremont, noting that the City’s 50 million square feet of flex industrial space, proximity to transit and residential structures, and highly skilled workforce (55% of the City’s adult residents have a bachelor’s degree) provide the capacity for companies looking to grow while enjoying all the benefits of the Bay Area.


The Mayor also shared some of the ways that Fremont is not shying away from tackling major challenges facing businesses across the region. Currently, Fremont has nearly 8,000 housing units under development, including over 1,000 units of affordable housing, mostly near transit. In discussing workers’ commutes, the Mayor shared an update on planning efforts to create a rail route along Dumbarton Corridor connecting the cities of Fremont, Union City, and Newark to Menlo Park and the Redwood City Caltrain station as well as an additional BART station in Fremont’s Irvington area that was recently approved.


Workforce training came up as an important topic of interest to many employers at the roundtable. In response, Mayor Mei emphasized the Fremont’s partnership with Ohlone College. The college is home to one of four Applied Biotechnology Centers in the state focused on providing world-class training to address the middle-skill gaps that many companies face. Additionally, she emphasized the City’s strong K-12 school system and the many opportunities companies have to engage with young students through events like Manufacturing Day.


The Fremont Economic Development team thanks all the Fremont employers who attended, including Boehringer Ingelheim, AEMTEK, Ardelyx, Bionova Scientific, Cytek Biosciences, KOGANEI, Steri-Tek, and Veolia. We believe these kinds of conversations lead to greater collaboration and help us to continually improve the business environment in Fremont and our region. We also want to thank Biocom for hosting this event and look forward to more in the future.


For more information on Biocom, please visit https://www.biocom.org/about-biocom/locations/bay-area/.