Gate510 – San Leandro’s Growing Hotspot for Innovation
This story was originally shared in the City’s July 2022 San Francisco Business Times supplement – 150 Years of Making Things in San Leandro. See all of the great stories about San Leandro’s transformation over the years here.
Having solidified its reputation as a manufacturing epicenter in the 20th century, San Leandro has transformed into a hotspot for 21st-century innovation and technology. Creative makers like Daniel Best and Carl Friden have played an integral role in the success of San Leandro’s local business ecosystem, evolving from assembly line and automation manufacturers to robotics and advanced manufacturers. Today, top minds in biotechnology and clean technology are shaping the next generation of innovation and technology.
Gate510 is home to many of the area’s cleantech and sustainability-oriented entrepreneurs. “Over the past few years, we’ve focused on creating a space at Gate510 that is attractive to start-ups in the advanced manufacturing, biotech, and cleantech spheres,” says Peter Lennon, a partner at commercial real estate group B3. “We believe strongly that San Leandro offers tremendous opportunities to the right businesses, and it should come as no surprise that we’ve doubled down on our investments here.”
San Leandro-based start-up, Aralez Bio, set out with a lofty goal of changing the face of chemical engineering. Using engineered enzymes, the company manufactures various new and different amino acids for use in pharmaceuticals, flavorings, agriculture, and materials.
With a dedication to sustainability, Aralez’s unique green chemistry process produces amino acids while cutting waste, energy consumption, and costs, all the while helping its customers develop higher-quality products at a faster rate. Aralez Bio’s Co-Founder and CEO, Christina Boville, says the company is on track to double in size over the next 18 months and is expected to double again in the following five years. With this growth, Aralez is actively looking for a new space to accommodate its rapidly expanding operation.
Boville says San Leandro’s location is the perfect combination of commuter-friendly convenience and entrepreneurial spirit, and the city remains the front runner for the company’s future expansion. “San Leandro has facilities friendly to biotech companies’ infrastructure needs, and it’s one of the more economically reasonable locations in the East Bay,” she says. “I think that having a start-up-friendly environment encourages more and more companies to flock to the area, in turn boosting jobs and the broader economy.”
“We help apparel brands make their garments from thin air,” says Neeka Mashouf, Co-Founder and CEO of Rubi Laboratories. Powered by biology, Rubi is revolutionizing the textile industry by taking CO2 out of the atmosphere and turning it into high-quality fabrics and textiles. The process is carbon-negative and aims to transition major industries to planet-positive production.
Rubi is currently at the lab phase of its operation and plans to expand its manufacturing to commercial volumes over the next several years. Working among other leading innovators, Mashouf points to the “welcoming excitement of the city and landlords who support innovative start-ups in biotech and sustainability” as playing a pivotal role in their attraction to San Leandro.
“We chose San Leandro because of its unbeatable proximity to talent, national research labs, CROs (contract research organizations), and biotech services in the entire Bay Area,” says Mashouf. “It also has very affordable rent for a small business like ours, and it has established infrastructure for industrial manufacturing, R&D, and freight.”
Founded at Stanford University in 2015 by Dr. Richard Wang, Cuberg is revolutionizing the future of battery technology. Utilizing lithium metal anode and a unique electrolyte chemistry formula, Cuberg’s trailblazing technology is propelling aviation and high-performance vehicle companies into the next generation of battery technology and electric mobility.
Recently acquired by Swedish-based battery manufacturer, Northvolt, in 2021, Cuberg expanded into a 35,000-square-foot facility in San Leandro. “We were attracted to San Leandro for various reasons,” says Rizwan Dard, Strategy Manager for Cuberg. “Geography played a key role in the move, but so did the support we received from the City. They have been very gracious in supporting our endeavors to bring this high-tech, innovative battery production facility to the area.”
Cuberg is already working on expanding into a larger, 70,000-square-foot facility adjacent to its current site. “Over the next five years, our goal is to improve our product and further expand our manufacturing footprint in San Leandro,” says Dard. In addition to more than doubling its manufacturing space, the company’s significant growth spurt will increase its employee count nearly fivefold. “We are at the forefront of a booming industry, which allows us to develop existing local talent and attract more high-tech talent at the same time.”