Life Science Firm Leaves Bay Area for Orange County

Life Science Firm Leaves Bay Area for Orange County

Headquarters Relocation Reflects Search for Talent

Oncocyte Corp., a molecular diagnostics company, is moving from a modest space in the East Bay area to a full building at 15 Cushing in Irvine, California. (CoStar)

By Jacquelyn Ryan and Clare Kennedy
CoStar NewsFebruary 07, 2020 | 02:42 P.M.

Oncocyte Corp., a molecular diagnostics company, plans to move its national headquarters to Southern California from the San Francisco Bay Area, as it more than triples in size and seeks new talented workers for its growing divisions.

The publicly traded firm said it is relocating into a 26,800-square-foot office building at 15 Cushing in Irvine, the business hub of Orange County, from a 9,000 square-foot space in a mid-1980s flex building at 1301 Harbor Bay Parkway in Alameda. It appears that Oncocyte expects to occupy all of the building on Cushing, which was constructed in 2002.

The company said the decision came as it focuses on expanding its team as its portfolio of molecular diagnostics grows. This month, it announced its proposed acquisition of Insight Genetics, the commercial availability of its chemotherapy benefit test and the completion of a validation for its liquid biopsy test.

Company executives searched nationwide for a new location, surveying markets including Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina; Houston; and Carlsbad and San Diego, California.

“Ultimately, we settled on Orange County because of its access to talent, affordability, opportunity for future growth and incredible community treatment centers,” Ronnie Andrews, CEO of Oncocyte, said in a statement. The company plans to engage with the community and expects “to contribute to bringing clinical trials to patients in the Orange County area and beyond.”

Oncocyte’s new home is in the Irvine Spectrum area, one of the hottest areas of Orange County, which is seeing robust, broad-based economic growth, according to CoStar analytics. Its strength is tied to its proximity to a major research university, University of California-Irvine, which offers a direct pipeline to young, highly-educated workers. Orange County is also home to other life science firms including Leonard Cancer Institute at Mission Hospital, City of Hope Cancer Center and Hoag Hospital.

Nevertheless, in terms of price and availability, Irvine Spectrum is a much more accessible market than Oncocyte’s old stomping grounds in the East Bay, where annual market rent sits at about $39 per square foot and vacancy rates stand at 8.6%. Leasing an entire building of 15 Cushing’s caliber in the East Bay could be a costly prospect indeed. By contrast, market rent stands at about $35 per square foot a year in the Irvine Spectrum district, and its vacancy rate hovers around 13.7%.

The company’s new corporate headquarters space is designed to include state of the art cancer genomics and molecular pathology labs, as well as corporate administrative functions.