Contact Us

Bay Area Biotech Project Gets Lightning-Fast 3-Month Approval

Transwestern Vacaville Biomanufacturing Rendering

A 375K SF Bay Area life sciences project received local government approval in just three months, a lightning-fast approval process highlighting how municipalities can adjust their entitlements process to cater to biotech. 

Houston-based developer Transwestern acquired 22 acres in Vacaville, California, this past summer, seeking to build a three-story life sciences complex between the interchanges of two highways. The 90-day entitlement process was due to Vacaville’s fast-track program for approving biotech projects, something it launched in 2019 to help further develop a local biomanufacturing industry.

Economic Development Director Don Burrus told San Francisco Business Times that an earlier expansion of South San Francisco, California-based biotech company Genentech’s facility in Vacaville was done “over the counter,” due to the initiative.

Local government action, whether through subsidies or the approval process, is becoming a larger factor in life sciences development. As projects in some life sciences hubs, such as Boston and New York City, have faced pushback, other cities with nascent lab industries have sought to speed their own approval processes to take advantage of the economic development potential of life sciences.

In California, The GrowLA Bio Initiative, which began November 2021, gathered local government leaders in the Los Angeles region, educating them on the zoning and regulatory changes needed to welcome life sciences development.