Sandwiched between San Francisco and San Jose, the City of Fremont has been able to find tech and biotech startup success

The City of Fremont was recently ranked No. 1 city for tech startups, according to, bringing attention to a San Francisco Bay Area city often overlooked in favor of San Francisco and San Jose.

Located almost 40 miles southeast of San Francisco and 20 miles northwest of San Jose, the city is in a prime region – and has an inviting infrastructure to new businesses.

Fremont is home to tech powerhouse companies such as Seagate, ASUS and Western Digital, but it’s the startups ranging from LED company Soraa to pharmaceutical company Zosano Pharma, that have captured the imaginations of entrepreneurs and consumers alike.

“The city (of Fremont) has embraced this entrepreneurial class, provides important incentives for new business creation, and maintains leading educational institutions to attract people to settle and raise families in the area,” said Rishi Sood, Gartner Managing Vice President, Public Sector.

DailyTech recently spoke with Mayor Gus Morrison to discuss why Fremont has become a hotbed for tech and biotech companies.

Fremont has evolved into an important Silicon Valley tech city, and there are a few key reasons to the city’s development.

“First is who lives here – highly educated, innovative people who are willing to take a chance on an idea,” Mayor Morrison told us. “One out of every 100 residents of Fremont was awarded a patent last year… really amazing. Couple that with affordable, available facilities for startups, making a short commute for those starting a business.”

The city has steadily attempted to draw tech, biotech and clean tech companies to the city with extended tax exemptions and other incentives.

“Our future is pretty much tied to emerging technologies. Our location, with ties to UC to the north and Stanford to the west, gives us the perfect place to merge the biomedical innovation from UC with the computer technology innovation starting at Stanford. Fremont is the perfect place for the biotech industry to prosper. We have many solar energy businesses in town and we also have several consumer electronic product companies already here.”

Start-up businesses can be difficult to get off the ground, and finding a location able to incubate the business to succeed is important.

“We have always tried to help people start businesses in (our) town. We forgive some business taxes for some clusters and we have an omsbudsman program to help new businesses – and existing ones – work through the approval processes. I don’t think we are changing an image, rather allowing people to see what we can do and how we can do it.”

Business growth is vital for a city’s economic stability, though logistical issues arise related to public infrastructure, traffic, and a lack of resources for the community. The Fremont Planning Division has worked closely with the City Council to ensure residents and businesses would be able to comfortably co-exist during continuous change.

“When the first General Plan was established for Fremont, it was estimated we would grow to 390,000 people and all the infrastructure was designed to handle that population. Our streets are capable of handling more traffic than they do now – in 2015, when BART starts service to Warm Springs, it will open up that area for transit users. We are dependent on AC Transit and we continue to try to work with them to improve their service to Fremont, although that is very difficult.”

The recession and slowly recovering economy still has damaged much of Silicon Valley, and Fremont still has its own problems that are now being worked out.

“There are lots of vacant buildings, true, but that, to a great extent, is the result of the economy. Some are being leased, (while) some are essentially obsolete and not adaptable to today’s requirements. Our projections for the next 30 years show we do not have enough products to handle the new jobs to be created and will need more, hopefully around the new Warm Springs BART station and Tesla.”

Competition is fierce among technology startups, and cities throughout the San Francisco Bay Area await companies with open arms. Fremont was ranked on top of the list this year, but it needs to continue to make improvements to remain attractive for new businesses.

Sources: San Jose Mercury News, Fremont Mayor Gus Morrison, City of Fremont

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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