The worldwide pandemic, COVID-19 plus variants, have added a new appreciation and admiration for the nearly 60 biotech companies that call Pleasanton their home.
Cumulatively, these firms employ over 5,000 people and offer high-paying jobs to our residents that desire to live and work in Pleasanton. Here is a partial list of biotech firms located in Pleasanton: Roche, 10x Genomics, Bio-Rad, Abbott, Veeva, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Allergan and many more.
First-term Mayor Karla Brown along with the Pleasanton City Council recognized the tremendous financial benefits that come from our quiet yet lucrative biotech hub. For these reasons, expanding Pleasanton's life sciences industry is one of the mayor's and council's two-year work plan priorities, approved in May.
To better educate residents, and city leaders, Mayor Brown and city staff approached several people to request their participation in a professional panel discussion on this topic. The discussion took place on June 17 with Pleasanton's Economic Vitality Committee (EVC).
The panel members presented their vast knowledge and experience in clinical research science, biotech incubation and commercial real estate needs. This panel's information provided an opportunity for the EVC to advance discussions on future expansion of the biotech life sciences industry locally, plus explore steps to work toward the City Council's goal.
Clinical immunologist/molecular biologist Andy Blidy was a key speaker regarding technical opportunities available to the city, during this presentation. Brandon Cardwell, executive director for I-Gate Innovation Hub/Daybreak Labs, offered his expertise in creating the integral ecosystem necessary and current initiatives to grow life sciences companies.
Commercial real estate/R&D sales and leasing adviser Brian Wilson added to the discussion by sharing current commercial real estate activity and how Pleasanton's environment fosters, or in some cases, inhibits the ability to attract and retain life sciences companies.
The outcome from the EVC meeting was an active discussion around the following topics:
* Brand Pleasanton as biotech hub.
* Support biotech companies and their employees within Pleasanton.
* Investigate a bio-incubator in Tri-Valley, to facilitate and assist the creation, growth and success of the next generation of biotech, pharma, life science and medical device companies.
* Enhance education on the topic and educate students about careers in the biotech industry. As an example, restart molecular biology courses or Jim Allison's Nobel laureate movie "Breakthrough" in Pleasanton Unified School District's high schools and Las Positas College.
To continue the expansion of our current biotech hub, Pleasanton could foster a creative exchange and active collaboration with industry leaders. The region should provide access to experts for mentoring, and training, plus interactions with prospective investors. The region should consider running seminars and workshops to expand knowledge and ensure the acquisition of new skills with community involvement.
The pandemic exposed a lot of good ideas about how people can work together in their organizations and their community. We have seen the benefits to our own health through scientific breakthroughs by local biotech firms such as Roche's 16 diagnostics solutions to help minimize the impact of COVID-19.
Our Pleasanton-based biotech hub is working on ways to cure life-threatening diseases and use early diagnostic tools to save others. Through these companies, we will improve and extend human lives. What could be more important than that?
Editor's note: Jointly authoring this Guest Opinion were Andrew Blidy, clinical immunologist/molecular biologist and former employee of two local biotech firms, and Karla Brown, current mayor of Pleasanton after serving eight years on the City Council.