BioLA: Innovation Catalyst and Entrepreneurial Hub

The Board of Supervisors has thrown its weight behind Bioscience Los Angeles County (BioLA), a nonprofit corporation created to accelerate the growth and development of the County’s bioscience industry.

Unanimously acting on a motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, the Board directed LA County’s Chief Executive Officer and departments to support BioLA’s mission to serve as an innovation catalyst and entrepreneurial hub for government, research institutions and private investors to accelerate startup activity and amplify economic opportunity.

Modeled after the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, which catapulted Boston into of the world’s leading bioscience hubs, BioLA will help coordinate academic institutions, research hospitals, investors, startups, mature companies, trade associations and public and quasi-public agencies to advance the pace of innovation.

BioLA will also facilitate local job creation. Currently, much of the talent and commercializable research developed at LA County’s world-renowned universities migrate to other, more developed, bioscience hubs.

“LA County has always been a bioscience powerhouse from a research perspective, but now we are flexing our entrepreneurial muscle,” Supervisor Ridley-Thomas said. “LA County has a deep bench of young companies as well as a diverse pipeline of relevant underlying research. BioLA is being formalized to further encourage the region’s top scientists to partner with entrepreneurs and commercialize, as well as to ensure that the core elements of startup activity – infrastructure, capital and talent – exist in abundance for all early stage life science companies.”

A 2014 study by the Battelle Memorial Institute affirmed LA County’s potential for becoming a national bioscience industry leader and identified the enablers that could grow the industry and help LA County realize its full potential. In 2016, under contract to the County, the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation released the Los Angeles County Bioscience Industry Cluster Development Implementation Plan. A key need identified by these two reports was the establishment of an entity that could serve as a hub for knowledge, innovation resources, coordination among players, and greater cohesion around biosciences countywide.

As a non-profit corporation, BioLA will be funded through various donations and will recruit and retain staff who will work to promote the Los Angeles region as a national hub for bioscience. It is to have a 12-member founding board which includes Amgen SVP of Business Development David Piacquad. More director announcements are anticipated in January.

Supporting BioLA is only the latest LA County initiative to boost the bioscience industry. LA County has also funded bioscience incubators at California State University Los Angeles and at LA BioMed on the Harbor-UCLA Medical Campus; set aside 15-acres on the Harbor-UCLA Medical Campus for the development of a biotech park; allocated $15 million to create a Bioscience Investment Fund for early-stage startups, and partnered with community colleges and industry leaders to implement life sciences apprenticeship programs.