Palo Alto’s name literally means “tall stick”, referring to the more-than-a-thousand-year-old El Palo Alto, a coast redwood lying near the edge of the city. Today, the city is more commonly known for its ties to Stanford, a high cost of living, and that good ol’ Silicon Valley start-up culture. However, many of the valley’s wealthiest seem to be turning to the city’s namesake to inspire the next big biotech innovation. Bezos, Page, and Brin are just some of the names currently investing in technology aiming to halt, or even reverse, the aging process.
As I drive up to San Francisco on US-101, I look to my right, and see large complexes with unfamiliar names – Mission Bio, Kezar Life Sciences, Ultragenyx. Drive into Stanford and you might pass Varian Medical Systems, Genencor International, or Stanford Genome Technology Center. The Bay Area landscape is still covered with large tech companies and countless tech startups, but the map is increasingly dotted with biotech startups. Big players, too, are constantly moving in. DuPont, in addition to owning Genencor, just opened their DuPont Silicon Valley Innovation Center in 2018 in Sunnyvale. Apple is making constant strides in healthcare – so much so that Tim Cook even said, “I do think there will be a day we look back and say Apple’s greatest contribution to mankind has been in healthcare.” And believe it or not, Google’s DeepMind is leading the field in protein engineering.
A revolution is brewing, and the game is changing.
That much was evident at Stanford’s AI in Healthcare panel featuring a few of the faces at the frontlines of the biotech startup industry.