Eastside chases after a biotech future

Photo courtesy Cal State L.A.

Photo courtesy Cal State L.A.

EL SERENOCal State L.A. today formally announced that it has received a $3.5 million grant to establish a bioscience incubator where start-up businesses, students and faculty can collaborate. It’s the most recent step in what has been a long and not always successful effort to create a “Bioscience Corridor” stretching across Boyle Heights, City Terrace and El Sereno.

The $3.5 million grant from the County of Los Angeles will be used to create BioSpace L.A., which will include 20,000 square-feet of lab space dedicated to bioscience research and collaboration. “When the university is a hub for applied research and scholarship that produces new solutions, the local community, the region, and students can thrive,” Cal State L.A. President William A. Covino said in a statement.

The university pointed out that that the bioscience industry was one of the few industries in Los Angeles to grow in the recession.  Boyle Heights is already home to USC’s large health sciences campus that the university plans to develop. Meanwhile, in El Sereno, the biomedical firm Grifols has expanded over the years. About five years ago, the City of Los Angeles and the County of Los Angeles agreed to cooperate on the creation of a “biomedical focus area” that would run north of the 10 Freeway between Boyle Heights on the west and El Sereno on the east and an unincorporated section of City Terrace in between.

But, so far, an Eastside Bioscience Corridor has yet to materialize, with the demise of redevelopment agencies undermining the city and county’s plans.  Meanwhile, USC has made little progress more than a decade after it announced intentions  to create a giant biotech park on its Boyle Heights property. An effort to turn the former County USC Medical Center in Boyle Heights – aka  General Hospital –  into a biotech business incubator also went no where.

The new biosciences incubator at Cal State L.A., however, is a sign that business, university and political leaders have not given up on the idea. Karen Glenn, government affairs manager for Grifols, told the L.A. Business Journal:

We look at the Eastside of Los Angeles as an untapped gem for talent … With a bioscience corridor, the more talented people come into the area, the greater the talent pool is for all the employers.”

Cal State L.A. president William A. Covino, left, and County Supervisor Gloria Molina, center, tour university lab

Cal State L.A. president William A. Covino, left, and County Supervisor Gloria Molina, center, tour university lab | Photo courtesy Cal State L.A.

One comment

  1. Is it already too late to save Oakland…..(or Highland Park, Boyle Heights, East LA)? Are they being saved now?

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