Life Sciences Incubator Grows in LA

Public-private BioscienceLA @ Culver City replaces an old courthouse

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To highlight the inaugural Bio Tech Week in Los Angeles County, a top life sciences incubator in the region opened a new bio-innovation hub in Culver City on Oct. 13, and said it sent a signal that L.A. is committed to becoming a major player in the industry.

The nonprofit, BioscienceLA, calls itself a catalyst for life sciences growth as it aims to ensure L.A. provides an ecosystem for the sector to thrive in. The new center was funded by the county, as well as by Cedars-Sinai Hospital and firms like Amgen and PhRMA.

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The new hub is a former county courthouse at 4130 Overland Avenue that was transformed into a multipurpose collaboration space. At the 20,000-square-foot center — called BioscienceLA @ Culver City — the nonprofit will support new companies and continue trying to attract top startups and established firms, researchers and investors.

CEO David J. Whelan said that while BioscienceLA has a ways to go, “we’re making incredible progress.”

“We’re focused on new ways to build resilient systems that will help us recover faster from and even prevent future pandemics, and bring together the entire delivery of care from bench to bedside,” he said at the opening event.

According to Biocom California’s most recent economic impact report, almost 97,000 people in L.A. County last year were employed by life sciences companies — good for one-fifth of all California’s life sciences jobs. And those L.A. companies generated $60.8 billion in total business sales last year, and secured more NIH funding than any other county in California. 

Before BioscienceLA @ Culver City opened, CBRE estimated about 7.8 million square feet of life science space in L.A. and Orange County, with triple-net asking rents averaging $38.40 per square foot per year. That’s well below the $69.84 rate in San Francisco and $59.88 in San Diego.

CBRE’s most recent report also explains an increasing developer interest in L.A.’s life sciences sector, with an influx of venture capital and continued NIH funding. Southern California also hosts home-grown STEM talent coming from universities and education institutions.

“Los Angeles is one of the most vibrant economies in the world with an incredible talent base,” CBRE’s Jeff Pion said in a statement. “It is home to major academic and research institutions such as CalTech, UCLA and USC. Given this massive talent pipeline, this region will continue to attract companies in the life science sector.”

At the opening of BioscienceLA @ Culver City, County Supervisor Holly Mitchell said jobs in the bioscience sector have proven to be resilient through economic downturns and that growth of the life sciences sector in L.A. is critical to the county’s competitiveness.

“It’s essential that we expose our talent to opportunities in the communities that they grew up in,” she said. “[This center] will help best coordinate our resources to make sure that the county generates cutting-edge bioscience research and development and we create cutting-edge bioscience opportunity as we do the best from the public sector to produce a trained workforce capable of launching and supporting companies that emerge from local research institutions and incubators.”

Gregory Cornfield can be reached at gcornfield@commercialobserver.com.