Hoping to nurture talent, develop a new industry and increase medical innovation, the Board of Supervisors took a first step towards creating the first ever biotech medical park in Los Angeles County on the campus of the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
The 15-acre campus will be located next to the LA BioMed Research center, a nonprofit institution with more than 60-years of successfully developing new medical procedures, devices and pharmaceuticals. Modern biotechnology includes research on genes, living organisms, agriculture and food processing.
When completed, the biotech campus, which is expected to house nearly 250,000 square-feet of office space, will be a public/private partnership that should generate between 800 to 900 jobs. The estimated private development cost of building the campus will likely be between $110-million and $125-million. The land, which is owned by the county and will be leased, has an estimated value of $25-million to $30-million.
“This will lay the groundwork to begin making Los Angeles a hub of biotech innovation,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who authored the motion that was approved. “Now the county can begin to achieve its full potential as a leader in this industry, support new discoveries made by local researchers and attract bioscience companies to our region.”
On May 6th, the supervisor participated in the campus transformation groundbreaking ceremony, during which LA BioMed received its largest donation ever — $3 million from LA BioMed board member Joan Jones, former mayor of Manhattan Beach. The money will be used to kick off the capital campaign to build state-of-the art research facilities to replace the World War II-era barracks that house some of LA BioMed’s researchers and their laboratories.
“I believe strongly in their vision,” Ms. Jones said during the ceremony. “The research done here really makes a difference not only in our community but around the world. For the last decade, LA BioMed has been on the cutting edge of bringing innovative changes in the world of medicine.”
The campus transformation begins with construction of an outdoor pavilion and shared communal space, funded in part with $1 million donated by Melanie and Richard Lundquist.
Mr. Lundquist said “an organization that has changed the face of medicine deserves a physical environment that reflects its lofty ideals and commitment to scientific achievement.”
A 2014 Battelle bioscience study, commissioned by the county, found that the bioscience industry faces significant hurdles in Los Angeles. In particular much of the research pioneered locally moves out of the county due to a lack of funding, facilities and support for new startups and early stage companies. Los Angeles falls behind the San Francisco Bay area and San Diego in venture capital, initial public offerings and fast growing biotechnology companies.
Located in the South Bay area adjacent Carson and Torrance, the proposed Biotech Campus is ideally situated to meet needs of bioscience companies and their high-tech work force. Since its founding more than 60 years ago, LA BioMed’s physician-researchers have helped develop some of the most important breakthroughs in medicine today, including cholesterol testing, heart scan technology, thyroid testing for newborns and treatment standards and techniques for paramedics.
“I believe that the new industry of consequence in this region will be in the area of biotech and Biomed, and LA Biomed is leading the way to cause Los Angeles County to be the premier locus of biomed and biotech in the nation,” said Supervisor Ridley-Thomas.
LA BioMed president and CEO David Meyer called Supervisor Ridley-Thomas a “supporter, partner, friend and believer.”
“Most importantly,” Mr. Meyer added, “We share a common vision for the future: to make Los Angeles County a vibrant hub for bioscience research that leads to better health outcomes, not just for his district, not just for the county, or the state or the nation, but for those who suffer across the globe.”
In addition to creating a biotech campus, the Board of Supervisors directed the Community Development Commission in November to establish a task force to carry out the recommendations of the Battelle study including creating bioscience hubs throughout the County.