The Cal State LA BioSpace initiative was created to foster a culture of inclusive entrepreneurship and promote the bioscience industry in the heart of Los Angeles.
The initiative aligns with the University’s mission of engagement and service for the public good. Cal State LA BioSpace is providing training, laboratory space and resources for emerging entrepreneurs and their startup companies.
Initiatives to create a bioscience ecosystem in Los Angeles date back to the mid-1970s. Those efforts were stymied by weak relational infrastructure and outdated organizational practices, resulting in a drain of human capital to places such as the Bay Area.
From 1976 to 2005, 214 biotechnology firms were created in the Bay Area, compared to just 55 in Los Angeles. More than 60 of those Bay Area firms achieved IPO status during the same period, while only three did so in Los Angeles.
To address this disparity, leaders in government, academia, private industry and the nonprofit sector began working together to build bioscience hubs, or clusters, to spur bioscience entrepreneurship and job creation across the Los Angeles region.
A place where innovation thrives
As part of the Cal State LA BioSpace initiative, an incubator is being developed with investment from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the Economic Development Administration (EDA) of the U.S. Department of Commerce, and philanthropic support. The incubator will be housed in the new Rongxiang Xu Bioscience Innovation Center, a state-of-the-art 20,000-square-foot facility at the southern gateway of the University.
The two overarching goals are to provide critical laboratory space and help emerging entrepreneurs turn their scientific discoveries into job-creating businesses.
“We’re a place where innovation thrives and where the seeds of prosperity are sown by providing emerging entrepreneurs with the training and knowledge they need to launch successful startups,” said University Executive Vice President Jose A. Gomez, who is the chair of Cal State LA BioSpace.
The incubator will house up to 25 startup firms, and will feature wet lab and dry lab space, coworking space, multi-use classrooms and other lab options to accommodate needs ranging from desks to single lab benches to secured and walled off lab suites.
The incubator is unique because it’s located at a primarily undergraduate and Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) and supports a community of underserved emerging entrepreneurs and ventures lacking access to costly equipment, resources and professional networks.
Supporting emerging entrepreneurs
A key component of the initiative is Cal State LA BioStart, an intensive, five-week training program that prepares emerging bioscience entrepreneurs to launch their own bioscience ventures. About 60 fellows have been trained in business fundamentals, leadership skills and bioscience industry knowledge by industry leaders and business experts.
The training is offered at no charge to eligible participants and has been funded by the Economic Development Administration, Cal State LA and partners. The program has been a collaboration between Cal State LA, the Biocom Institute and the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator.