Vacaville aggressively pursuing biotechnology expansion

May 01 2020

The Reporter By NICK SESTANOVICH | |

PUBLISHED: April 30, 2020 at 5:15 p.m. | UPDATED: April 30, 2020 at 6:35 p.m.

As the home of Genentech, a biomanufacturing facility that remains one of the city’s top employers, it should come as no surprise that Vacaville is a growing biotechnology region. It already has a number of other biotech centers and is looking to expand.

On Tuesday, the Vacaville City Council approved a pair of initiatives to allow the city to implement a strategy that would allow Vacaville to become “the largest biotech hub in the world.”

The strategy, according to a press statement, includes the retention of a biotechnology consultant and the establishment of a new director of economic development services position to make an aggressive push to expand the city’s biotech and advanced manufacturing clusters.

The first phase was approved by the council at its Feb. 25 meeting and included an in-depth analysis of the two industries, recommendations for new branding efforts and new unique zoning for Vacaville, a proposed marketing plan as well as new marketing materials and tools. This phase has already been completed, city officials announced.

The second phase includes establishing a nonprofit organization, creating a life science advisory board consisting of local and regional industry leaders, establishing new zoning opportunities that promote new life science uses, hosting multiple familiarization tours with biotech real estate developers and brokers,and participating remotely in Bio International 2020 to promote Vacaville’s strategy.

“We want to find every possible avenue to facilitate biotech investment and generally be prepared to make Vacaville the place that biotech companies want to be, and need to be,” City Manager Aaron Busch said in a statement. “Our city has the land, building space, infrastructure and skilled workforce that these industries require.”

The city has already approved a contract with Matthew Gardner of Innovation Counselors, LLC to prepare the second phase of the initiative.

“I’m extremely honored to be part of this process in Vacaville,” Gardner said in the statement. “We’re bringing the industry together in new ways and looking for solutions that deliver for citizens, industry, patients, and consumers.”

Bob Burris, president and CEO of the Solano Economic Development Corporation, praised Gardner’s hiring in a statement.

“With its leadership position in biomanufacturing, Vacaville and Solano County are poised to support the national effort to build a stronger life science manufacturing base in the U.S.,” he said. “We are thrilled to have someone with the national stature of Matthew Gardner on board with the City to help guide our efforts.”

The second phase is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2021. After that, the goal is to install an infrastructure system capable of establishing and supporting Vacaville as a life science leader, officials wrote.

“Vacaville has been a global leader in life sciences since Alza invested in the city in 1984,” Gardner said. “Now home to a deep biomanufacturing complex and talent base, the City sees numerous ways to grow from strength.”

The initial focus will be on the biotechnology/medical device technology industry, particularly as the coronavirus has created more interest in medical devices and the manufacturing of pharmaceutical drugs. On the advanced manufacturing side, the plan is for Vacaville to expand an existing industry with a focus on agriculture technologies, aerospace and transportation, food and beverage and robotics.

“The opportunity exists for Vacaville to take advantage of our unique position in these two sectors,” Mayor Ron Rowlett said in the statement. “I feel we now have the team, knowledge and experience in place to make this happen. We’re poised to be a world leader, and we’re anxious to get started.”

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