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Sup. Solis and Cal State LA Partner to Promote Bioscience Industry

“The sky is the limit,” said Los Angeles County Sup. Hilda Solis last week during the closing of a five-week bioscience training boot camp at Cal State University, Los Angeles.

She was referring to the intensive training, mentoring and business knowledge graduates of the LABioStart program received to help them start and sustain successful bioscience ventures.

The event included an announcement by Cal State LA President William A. Covino that the university and Solis had reached an agreement to collaborate on initiatives to help spur interest in the bioscience industry locally by providing internships and professional development opportunities to students interested in the field.

Cynthia D. Banks, director of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services, Sup. Solis and Cal State LA Pres. William A. Covino agree to collaborate on bioscience initiatives during the inaugural LA BioStart graduation on Aug. 16. (Photo by Gareth Mackay/Cal State LA) [1]

Cynthia D. Banks, director of Workforce Development, Aging and Community Services, Sup. Solis and Cal State LA Pres. William A. Covino agree to collaborate on bioscience initiatives during the inaugural LA BioStart graduation on Aug. 16. (Photo by Gareth Mackay/Cal State LA)

As part of the collaboration, the county will support the high school summer STEM academy Cal State conducts with Grifols Biologicals Inc., and the LABioStart program, according to the announcement.

“Projects like LA BioStart energize interest in biotechnology and bioscience,” Covino told the gathering. “LA BioStart fits right into the mission of Cal State LA.”

LA BioStart is funded by the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The program is a collaboration between Cal State LA, the Biocom Institute and the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI). Training is offered at no cost and led by top industry experts who focus on critical areas such as business fundamentals, financing models, industrial research and development, regulatory affairs, leadership skills and communication strategies.

Howard Xu is LA BioStart’s director and a professor of microbiology at Cal State LA. He said he’s  “gratified” boot camp participants are benefitting from the program and that he’s looking forward to seeing the bioscience commercial products program they will launch in the future.

Boot camp graduate and Cal State LA alumnus John Chi, founder and CEO of Synova Life Sciences in Alhambra, is commercializing a medical device to harvest stem cells from adipose tissues for use as a regenerative therapy for joints. According to Chi, the program “exceeded” all his expectations. There was “so much depth” in the real-world business knowledge shared by mentors and instructors, he said.

Cal State LA Executive Vice President Jose A. Gomez called LA BioStart participants “pioneers” in the development of “Bioscience Valley,” which extends along Valley Boulevard and includes Cal State LA and Grifols Biologicals Inc. on the east, and USC’s Health Sciences campus on the west.

“The fellows of LA BioStart are the future of the bioscience industry,” Gomez said. “Their ideas and discoveries will transform our region and enhance the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship at Cal State LA.”