Merck has staked out a new R&D campus for itself in the heart of South San Francisco, the epicenter of the Bay Area’s biotech mega-hub. Alexandria Real Estate Equities, the builder of many biotech facilities around the country, will be breaking ground on the site soon after Merck bought into a new, 294,000-square-foot West Coast research complex at 213 East Grand Avenue. The move-in date is being set for 2019....
...A Merck spokesman told me back in July that a central research campus in San Francisco would also open the door to about 100 new hires.
“We will ultimately consolidate our Oncology, Immuno-oncology, Biologics and CMR discovery work into a combined research site,” she noted at the time. “Our Palo Alto site will continue to focus on Immuno-Oncology and Biologics and Vaccines discovery until the long-term facility is up and running.”
The western migration follows a move by Merck to reduce staff levels at its operations in Kenilworth and Rahway, NJ. The move also affected its North Wales, PA screening facility. And Merck has already picked out a lab in Cambridge, MA for its expanded work in the East Coast hub. Now it’s well along the way to doing the same on the West Coast.
All of that fits neatly into a broad industry trend that has dominated R&D over the past 5 years. Big Pharma has been identifying central hubs, often in the mega-centers like Cambridge, MA, Cambridge, UK and San Francisco, to concentrate its forces.It's pretty amazing to me how pharma R&D is sorting itself into either Bay Area or Cambridge enclaves. With the assumption that this is (in the long run) where most of their medicinal chemists (and process chemists?) will be located, I imagine this will have the effect of increasing wages (while gains when compared to cost-of-living will be more modest.)
Does anyone see this trend reversing? I don't. Longtime readers are probably tired of me saying this: the prominence of Bay Area and Cambridge in pharma are due to decades of billions of federal research investments in world-class universities and medical centers combined with a relatively friendly funding atmosphere for entrepreneurial adventures. What this says for other regions and their pharma/biotech hopes isn't very positive, I'd think.