BioLA: An Innovation Catalyst for Los Angeles County
The announcement in September 2018 of Bioscience Los Angeles County – or BioLA -- sent a strong, visible signal that Los Angeles is committed to becoming a major player in the life sciences industry. The decision to launch an independent innovation catalyst organization was inspired by the nationwide experiences of successful innovation hubs, input from regional life sciences stakeholders, and independent assessments of the region’s strengths and weaknesses.
BioLA’s mission is to ensure that Los Angeles has a collaborative, well-coalesced ecosystem that encompasses all aspects of the Southern California life sciences cluster – biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, medical diagnostics, bioinformatics, healthcare IT, medtech, digital health, and more.
BioLA is not designed to duplicate existing activities or organizations but to help harmonize the efforts of all regional stakeholders -- academic institutions, research hospitals, investors, startups, mature companies, trade associations, public and quasi-public agencies, and others -- to advance Los Angeles’ capacity and pace of innovation.
Government, industry, and philanthropic sector representatives endorse the potential of Los Angeles to become a major west coast life sciences innovation hub.
Why Does Los Angeles Need an Innovation Catalyst?
Los Angeles County already possesses many of the necessary elements to be a life sciences powerhouse. We are home to world class academic research organizations, medical centers serving millions of patients, a skilled and diverse workforce, and industry leading companies such as Amgen, Grifols, Kite/Gilead, Medtronic, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, and ThermoFisher. The region also enjoys the presence of a robust tech cluster. Los Angeles and California have always boasted access to venture capital, but now there are new entrants of early-stage life sciences investors such as Westlake Village BioPartners. Los Angeles County has long led the state in NIH grant funding, and recently has overtaken its better-known neighbor San Diego in life sciences jobs and employment.
The County of Los Angeles recognizes the importance of its life sciences assets and has been actively investing in the region’s innovation capacity. Significant public funding has been directed into physical infrastructure, capital attraction and workforce development. The County also has also promoted and funded coordinating activities to strengthen the life sciences ecosystem. The time has come to transition the County’s coordinating role to a more formal public-private partnership whose sole mission is to coordinate efforts across the ecosystem. BioLA is the vehicle for that growing partnership -- an independent entity with a public purpose and an entrepreneurial bent.
The model has been met with early enthusiasm. BioLA was incorporated as a CA nonprofit public benefit corporation in December 2018 with financial support from founding sponsors representing government, industry, and philanthropic sectors, all of whom endorse the potential of Los Angeles to become a major west coast life sciences innovation hub.