Bayer is saying farewell to a longtime research hub in San Francisco, centralizing US efforts in the Boston area and potentially leaving several biotechs in its incubator without a home.
The German drug giant will shut down the “innovation hub” and CoLaborator incubator ahead of its lease expiring in October, a Bayer spokesperson told Endpoints. Once a location thought of as pivotal to Bayer’s US plans, the San Francisco site will shutter after more than a decade of operation.
Since saying last year that it would “evaluate” different options for the site, Bayer has shrunk its San Francisco staff to fewer than 20 workers, the spokesperson said. These employees will be “encouraged” to apply for jobs elsewhere at Bayer, including at a Berkeley, CA location with more than 100 openings.
“We communicated with employees about this decision back in April to provide them with the longest possible runway to making their next career moves,” the spokesperson told Endpoints in an email. “We recognize that everyone may not find their next role within Bayer and in this event the company will be providing its standard severance as well as job placement services.”
For the biotechs with offices at the site, Bayer will work to help transition them to “future locations of their choosing,” the spokesperson added. There are currently 10 companies either headquartered at the Mission Bay site or using offices at the location, including the Swiss biotech CRISPR Therapeutics.
Bayer first opened the hub back in 2010, starting off with about 65 researchers at a former Pfizer space near UC-San Francisco. Then in 2012, Bayer launched its San Francisco incubator, which has partner sites in Berlin, Moscow, West Sacramento, CA and Kobe, Japan.
The incubator originally featured 6,000 square feet of office space, but Bayer expanded that footprint to 30,000 in recent years.
Bayer’s move comes after the drugmaker had once looked to continue expanding its San Francisco hub, but struck out at securing more office space. Per a report from the San Francisco Business Times, nearby Silicon Valley tech companies like Uber and Square snapped up all the premier space when building out their own businesses in the early 2010s.
As a result, Bayer has pivoted its focus to the Berkeley, CA location having recently petitioned the city for a 30-year “master plan” calling for roughly 1 million square feet of space and an additional 1,000 employees in the next three decades. The site has pumped out three hemophilia A treatments for distribution worldwide, but Bayer is looking to continue its cell and gene therapy push, including a gene therapy for the blood disorder.
Other efforts are likely to be included at the Berkeley site, and Bayer has been beefing up its pipeline in recent months. Back in October, Bayer committed up to $4 billion to acquire gene therapy pioneer Asklepios, more commonly referred to as AskBio. And in December, the drugmaker established a cell and gene therapy platform to consolidate all of its related projects under one umbrella, allowing execs to swing some more deals.
Bayer’s other tenants at the San Francisco incubator are Atlay Therapeutics, BioGraph 55, Cairn Biosciences, Coagulant Therapeutics, DNALite Therapeutics, Explora BioLabs, Mantra Bio, ProLynx and Xcell Biosciences.
This article has been updated to include comment from Bayer.