South San Francisco, CA November 10, 2017 by Mel Ellison, ESC Correspondent
This past Thursday, South San Francisco welcomed biotech company Genewiz, into the growing cluster of such companies in our city, with a ribbon cutting ceremony for their sparkling new laboratory. Genewiz, headquartered in New Jersey and with offices in Europe, China and Japan, is a company specializing in genome sequencing which, in the words of co-founder Amy Liao, “….although still in it’s early stages, will become a major tool for humanity meaning better medicines, better food, health, energy and eventually everyday consumer items.”
On hand to welcome the new addition was our esteemed and quite ebullient Mayor Pradeep Gupta. A gathering of Genewiz customers listened as the mayor spoke about the “biotech ecosystem” that is evolving in South San Francisco of which Genewiz is a welcome new addition. From SSF’s early beginnings with larger companies like Genentech which do most everything, the mayor pointed out that we are now seeing smaller, more specialized , boutique companies that provide a specific service as part of a larger “food chain” of biotech services. Within that “ecosystem”, Genewiz fills the niche market of genome sequencing and, as the Mayor pointed out, is part of what has become a “vibrant network of entrepreneurship and innovation” here in South San Francisco.
Genewiz had it’s beginnings 18 years ago as a genomics start-up in a 200-square foot laboratory in Long Island. Co-founders Steve Sun and Amy Liao had a goal to “….increase research productivity through fast, reliable, delivery of quality results, competitive pricing, first-rate project management, and easy access to expert technical support.” As evidenced by the companies rapid expansion in the intervening years, they have met their goals and then some.
The stated mission of Genewiz is to “…contribute to the advancement of life sciences and technologies by making research more productive and cost efficient through our scalable services.” As an example of how far the technology has advanced in the 18 years since they started, Ms. Liao remarked that “When we first started, sequencing a whole human genome cost $3 billion and took decades to complete. Nowadays at Genewiz, it can be done in a week at a cost of $1,000!” Now that’s impressive!
In concluding his formal remarks to the gathering, the Mayor said that whenever he sees Sign Hill these days, he often thinks it might be changed to “The Industrious City” rather than “Industrial”. Says the Mayor, “We have redefined ourselves to reflect the innovative entrepreneurial and industrious spirit that has made South San Francisco a world leading cluster of biotechnology companies”. And to Amy Liao and Genewiz he went on to say, “You’re now part of that fabric, that effort, and I really want to welcome you to that biotech ecosystem.”
Now, about those thorny issues of traffic and housing……
Mel Ellison is a free-lance writer and photographer who covers special features for Everything South City as well as taking the role of co-admin on our social media. Married to Lynn Brunetti, they enjoy family time with their grandchildren and enjoying their Brentwood neighborhood in South San Francisco. When not dazzling us with his photography you will find Mel on the open seas pursuing his love of sailing.
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