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Byline: Lisa M. Krieger
Jul. 14--A once-rural fringe of Fremont is the Bay Area's new bio-burg, transforming former farmland into a habitat for the most modern forms of life.
This blank slate of land on the northeast side of the Dumbarton Bridge, called Ardenwood, is a new hot spot for the fledgling biotech industry, offering a growing number of young medical technology companies the space they need -- at a price they can afford.
"We'd be unable to expand, and in real bad shape, if we were on the Peninsula," said Kurt Leutzinger, chief financial officer of the Fremont-based Abgenix Inc., innovator of genetically manipulated mice. With many products in the research pipeline, Abgenix is tripling its square footage and boosting staff eightfold.
The birthplace of biotechnology, the Bay Area is home to more than 700 bioscience firms that provide jobs to an estimated 84,000 people. This new industry has blossomed in the region's unique hothouse of universities, tech talent and venture capital experience.
But biotech is feeling sharp growing pains. This industry, more than other tech businesses, needs space for its fermenters, freezers and colonies of lab animals. So biotech companies are headed east, following the path already created by tech companies like Lam Research Corp., LSI Logic/Micronics Computers, Logitech and HMT Technology Corp. Further afield, biotech is expanding into Napa, …