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Berkeley City Council set to vote on agreement to grow anchor biotech; negotiates significant community investment commitment

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Employees at Bayer making FVIII. Credit: Bayer Berkeley

This story brought to you by Bayer Berkeley.

Last month in a unanimous vote, the Berkeley Planning Commission recommended that the city council approve a proposed extension to the development agreement with Bayer. The revised agreement paves the way for the city to attract investment in over one million square feet of biotech infrastructure projects in Bayer over the next 30 years. The potential new facilities will enable Bayer to develop a range of new biotechnology-based drugs for patients awaiting new treatment options.

In life sciences centers around the world, including the United States, governments often offer valuable incentives to earn just this type of investment. In return, Berkeley is expected to reap not only the economic benefits of Bayer’s growing operations, but also a commitment from the global life sciences company to invest $33.1 million in the community. Berkeley City Council is expected to vote on The extension of the development agreement on November 30.

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The upcoming vote comes on the heels of a nearly two-year comprehensive environmental review of Bayer’s plans to transform the 46-acre biotechnology center, long known for manufacturing treatments to serve hemophiliacs. Bayer is now planning to transform its operations to add treatment production facilities to cells and gene therapies to treat patients with conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, cancer and cardiovascular disease to name a few.

In 1992, when The development agreement was originally created, and was the first of its kind in Berkeley. Since then, this public-private partnership has served patients around the world and helped the local community thrive,” notes Drew Johnston, Vice President of Engineering at Bayer. The extension of the development agreement continues this tradition and ensures that Bayer can develop infrastructure that will support a wider range of patients, while proudly providing significant local investments in areas defined by the community.”

The The extension of the development agreement proposes investments that advance education and workforce development in biotechnology, support the West Berkeley community, fund civic arts, and contribute to the city’s efforts to promote affordable housing and childcare. In addition, the company should provide ongoing volunteering for employees in the community, communicate regularly with neighbors, promote business opportunities locally, and explore how local minority and women-owned enterprises can do business with Bayer.

Nearly 50% of Bayer’s annual community investment in Berkeley will go toward STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics) education and paid internships for high school and community college students from an underrepresented population. This investment builds on the current Development Agreement, which launched Biotech Partners, a nonprofit organization serving students at Berkeley High and other Bay Area schools. In addition to a paid high school internship, the program enables a one-year community college internship that allows students to earn and learn while gaining marketable experience in biotechnology.

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“Biotechnology Partners would not exist today without the help of Bayer and the foresight of the many community leaders interested in providing meaningful opportunities to students, particularly from low-income families,” said CEO Linda Jayden. “By extending the development agreement to continue paid internships for high school and community college students, Berkeley will ensure that young, disadvantaged populations have access to opportunities that pave the way to lucrative biotech careers.”

Add task to The extension of the development agreement came directly from community comments seeking to support the West Berkeley neighborhood. Twenty percent of Bayer’s commitment to community benefits will revitalize neighborhood initiatives in three areas: climate action, health equity, and local economic resilience.

Faith in the Bay and community engagement advocate Denisha DeLane were early advocates of this approach. “Bayer’s involvement in community programs was part of my upbringing in South and West Berkeley; investments like this are a start to ensuring the next generation has access to just solutions for those who need them most.”

  • Public arts, affordable housing, and childcare

The remainder of Bayer’s community benefit funding will be split between Berkeley-operated programs that develop programs for affordable housing, childcare, and the public arts.

Bayer’s relationship with Berkeley goes far beyond the current mandatory elements Development agreement or proposed extension.

“Bayer has proven to be a strong supporter of the Berkeley community,” said Sarah Webber, co-founder and CEO of the Berkeley Food Network. “The Bayer Fund’s intervention at a critical time with a large donation has helped us greatly increase our assistance to those who are food insecure during the Covid-19 pandemic. We look forward to continuing to work with the team at Bayer for decades to come.”

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Find out more about Bayer in Berkeley and their plans for a future visit bayer.com/berkeley.

This story is written by Bayer Berkeley. Bayer is a global organization with core competencies in the areas of life sciences, healthcare and nutrition. Its products and services are designed to benefit people by supporting efforts to overcome major challenges presented by an increasing and aging global population. Bayer is committed to the principles of sustainable development, and the Bayer brand stands for worldwide trust, reliability and quality. Bayer is a life sciences company with over 150 years of history and core competencies in the healthcare and nutrition fields. Through its innovative products, it contributes to finding solutions to some of the major challenges of the growing and aging world population.

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