What have been the key advancements in Biocom California’s operations over the past few years?
We experienced explosive growth across the state and consequently adopted a new name: Biocom California. Our new brand reflects our leadership as the statewide trade association for the life sciences with more than 1,600 members in key life science clusters across California. We provide our members with advocacy, connections to capital, workforce development, an expanding talent pipeline, and networking opportunities in a state that has the largest concentration of life science companies in the world. Further east, Biocom California expanded its presence in Washington D.C., strengthening our policy expertise in FDA and CMS to complement our historical relationships with Congress and the executive branch.
On a regional level, we have seen an explosive growth in each of our clusters. In the San Francisco Bay Area, we see major companies like AbbVie, Thermo Fisher Scientific and Merck create large facilities in South San Francisco, the birthplace of biotech. In the greater Los Angeles region, we see organic growth and the rise of venture capital players. A few years ago, there were only a handful of large life science companies in the region. Gilead Sciences' acquisition of Kite Pharma for US$11.9 billion produced a new crop of serial entrepreneurs and other talent, leading to the launch of new companies. In San Diego, we have a growing abundance of new early-stage companies. UC San Diego is one of the most preeminent research universities, and its notoriety and success with technology transfer leads to new company creation.
Biocom California is also addressing a critical challenge. We must attract more talent to our industry – more researchers, business professionals, entrepreneurs, and future executives. And it needs to be diverse talent. In 2021, Biocom California launched a major Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiative, leading to the rollout of our statewide DE&I member CEO pledge.
One of the key drivers of the future of healthcare will be the convergence of tech, biotech, and medtech. We believe that Silicon Valley and the life science ecosystem are uniquely positioned to address the future of healthcare. Our new Tech+Biotech+Medtech community aims to capitalize on existing expertise by creating opportunities for experts from the three sectors to come together to realize the full promise of digital health.
How would you assess the industry’s response to Covid-19?
The speed at which the industry capitalized on several years of mRNA research to develop vaccines and partner with the FDA to get these through the regulatory review process was incredible. Many companies in California had already been working in the diagnostics arena, which was not the most lucrative field of biotechnology pre-Covid. These companies quickly shifted their diagnostics technologies towards pandemic-related needs.
Through the pandemic, we helped our members access the supplies and regulatory knowledge necessary to continue working. Biocom California assembled a statewide Covid-19 task force, bringing together experts from various fields including HR, facilities management, environmental health and safety, legal, and government affairs, to provide a one-stop comprehensive guidebook for our members.
What advancements has California made in the precision medicine space?
California has made great progress in precision medicine and our members lead the way in genetic sequencing, data analytics, and cell and gene therapy. Regenerative medicine is also growing – a few years ago, we were able to renew the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine's funding at US$5.5 billion so it could continue to provide grant funding to California-based companies developing technologies using stem cell research to treat patients in a more targeted way.
As we head into a post-pandemic world, where will Biocom California focus its efforts?
We want patients to have access to affordable medicines, which entails partnerships between industry, government, and other entities like PBMs, insurance companies, and hospitals.
Biocom California worked with laser-focus to defeat HR3, a bill in the House of Representatives that proposed to import foreign price controls on biopharmaceutical products, potentially destroying market competition that has rewarded biotech investment in the US and resulted in the introduction here of the most revolutionary therapies in the world.
Additionally, Biocom California values its partnerships with global entities, such as our 10-year relationship with Japan. We continue to look at regions with strong life science industries that could be potential partners and prioritize positioning the California life science industry on the world stage.