Entrepreneurs play a critical role in our economy. The innovations they develop have a cascading effect on job creation, standards of living, and growth in related industries. Teaching talented individuals to become entrepreneurs themselves and supporting them as they launch their own companies is one thing that universities can do to strengthen the economy in their communities. At California State University, Los Angeles, we understand the importance of this approach, which led us to create LABioStart, a boot camp to train emerging bioscience entrepreneurs in the region.
In partnership with the Biocom Institute and the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), we have been awarded a $500,000 challenge grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce. The department’s Regional Innovation Strategies (RIS) program helps communities create the building blocks that foster economic development through new technologies and job creation. In addition to the flagship LABioStart boot camp, the grant will support additional programs to promote bioscience innovation and facilitate networking in the Los Angeles area. The programs will engage local governments and other partners to develop new training modules in business fundamentals, leadership skills and business competencies specific to bioscience.
With the help of a team of seasoned subject matter experts and mentors, LABioStart will train five cohorts of emerging bioscience entrepreneurs during the three-year funding period, with the first boot camp planned for summer 2017. Each cohort of boot camp participants will learn from experts and mentors during four weeks of intensive training in areas such as business formation, human resources, financing, intellectual property, visioning and strategic planning, interpersonal and communication skills, research and development process, and regulatory affairs and manufacturing.
In addition to the boot camp, LABioStart and its partners will host a series of networking events for regional entrepreneurs, investors and other experts to strengthen bioscience collaboration and innovation in greater Los Angeles. Additional partners include: the County of Los Angeles, the City of Los Angeles, LA BioMed, the Pasadena Bioscience Collaborative (PBC), Cal Poly Pomona, Caltech, UCLA, USC, City of Hope, LA Bioscience Hub, LabLaunch, Biotech Connection LA, Grifols Biologicals, Molecular GPS, Inc., C3J Therapeutics, Inc., Hatch, and Synova Life Sciences, Inc.
None of this could have happened without the strong support of our community. Lisa Bozinovic, executive director of the Biocom Institute, shared that “according to feedback from local stakeholders, efforts to support the Los Angeles entrepreneurial community in the life sciences are welcome and needed. This is the first of several efforts for us to partner with local groups to support workforce development, entrepreneur education and STEM, all of which are needed to support the growing life sciences cluster in L.A.”
With the support of the Commerce Department grant, LABioStart will build human capital for Los Angeles and create new bioscience industry jobs that will drive long-term economic growth. It’s also a great example of regional stakeholders working in harmony to support innovation. Cal State LA is extremely grateful to have nearly 20 partners from government, colleges and universities, bioscience companies and other incubator operators in the area. We are excited to launch this collaborative effort and look forward to seeing the impact on innovation, the workforce, and economic growth in the greater Los Angeles region.
For further information about the LABioStart project and its programs, send your inquiries to LABioStart@calstatela.edu and/or call 323-343-2188.
Jose A. Gomez, Ph.D. is Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer at California State University, Los Angeles.