Q&A with Gregory Theyel, Program Director of Biomedical Manufacturing Network

Our life sciences blog series continues. In this latest installment, we caught up again with Gregory Theyel, program director of the Biomedical Manufacturing Network. The Biomedical Manufacturing Network is convened by a partnership of regional entities focused on supporting and advancing the biomedical industry through business assistance, technology transfer, education and training, and economic development in the San Francisco Bay Area.

When we last heard from Gregory, the Network was just getting off the ground. So it’s great to see how it is helping biomedical manufacturing companies throughout the Bay Area and what industry trends are emerging through its work.

City of Fremont: The Biomedical Manufacturing Network has established itself as a go-to resource for the region’s biomed community. What are the specific ways you are assisting companies?

Gregory Theyel: We are helping more than 60 companies with everything from setting up production lines, finding employees, and enhancing quality control to finding funding and connecting companies to supply chain partners. We help out with manufacturing, operations, human resources, and financial services to make biomedical companies stronger and scale their technology to better serve their customers and enhance economic development in the Bay Area.

Fremont: Wow. So, now that you are familiar with the entire Bay Area biomedical landscape, how does Fremont fit into this ecosystem?

GT: Of the more than 1,200 biomedical companies in the Bay Area, Fremont is home to close to 100 — one of the largest concentrations in the region with a particular strength in large-scale medical device manufacturing. I’ve worked closely with the City’s Economic Development team to set up meetings and tours with many of these local companies. This partnership has been very productive, and to date, the Network has completed some of its largest projects with Fremont-based companies.

Fremont: What are some of the biggest challenges these companies are experiencing?

GT: The challenges really vary. Smaller companies often need help setting up their initial production lines, while medium-sized and large companies benefit from expanding their production, improving their quality, and training their employees.

Fremont: Anything else?

GT: Financing is also important. Most biomedical companies are working on a much longer timeline than other industries in the Bay Area. It can take years to go from concept to market, so investors are less likely to invest money they won’t see returns on for long periods of time. We have helped companies find local and more patient capital sources to help with the growth of regional biomedical companies.

We have also helped companies build better and more reliable supply networks. Fremont is well-positioned in the regional supply network. Because of their central location in the Bay Area, Fremont-based companies are often better able to find the resources they need close by.

Fremont: And how doyou see the future of the biomedical industry playing out in the Bay Area and the rest of California?

GT: In the recently released 2015 California Biomedical Industry Report, the Bay Area ranks No. 1 with the highest number of biomedical employees in California. In addition, the Bay Area has a diverse and robust concentration of related and supporting industries such as electronics, machining, and software, and these industries help enable innovation and new product development in the biomedical industry. It also helps that Bay Area biomedical companies have access to world-leading research centers — federal laboratories, UC San Francisco, UC Berkeley, and Stanford — that offer cutting-edge technological advancements.