L.A. Gets Serious on Biotech Infrastructure

L.A. Gets Serious on Biotech Infrastructure

2018 might mark a major year for Los Angeles County’s effort to anchor and retain new biotechnology firms, using a mix of planning support and public dollars.

A county bioscience cluster initiative, drawn from two recent studies on how to expand the region’s $40 billion industry, aims to create business ecosystems that support biotech innovators. The initiative aims to nurture entrepreneurs by providing access to lab space and venture capital, something the region hasn’t done as well as places such as San Francisco or San Diego.

The headliner in the effort is a new development on LA BioMed’s 15-acre biotech park on the campus of Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, which the county Board of Supervisors is expected to approve this month.

The proposed 250,000-square-foot park for early stage and mid-size companies would be built and financed by a private developer in phases between 2020 and 2032 at an estimated cost of $200 million.

A $63 million, 78,000-square-foot LA BioMed research lab and incubator, supported by $3 million in county funds, is already under construction and expected to open next year in a different part of the campus.

LA Biomed isn’t the only outfit getting public support. The $12 million, 20,000-square-foot L.A. BioSpace Incubator at California State University Los Angeles has received $6 million in county and federal funds, and is slated to open this fall. The facility is expected to house two dozen start-ups.

The incubator will anchor LA Bioscience Hub, a nonprofit agency launched in 2014 to attract biotech businesses along a 4-mile industrial corridor from Cal State L.A. in El Sereno to the USC Health Sciences campus in Boyle Heights.

L.A. County has also earmarked 100,000-square-feet for bioscience at a renovated MLK Medical Campus in South Los Angeles, where the new MLK Health and Wellness Community Development Corp. will manage and lease out office space.