A life sciences organization representing more than 750 San Diego-area companies plans to establish a beachhead in Los Angeles in June, striving to capitalize on the city’s rapidly growing biotechnology industry.
But the arrival of Biocom could step on the toes of SoCalBio, a local trade organization with nearly 400 members that has been active on the bioscience and health care industry scene for more than 20 years.
Jon Lasch, director of the Alfred Mann Institute at USC and a board member of SoCalBio, said that any duplicate efforts would not be helpful.
“It’d be useful if they were doing something the ecosystem really needed,” Lasch said.
With larger companies that already have teams of employees focused on advocacy and smaller companies primarily focused on their next round of funding, he said some of Biocom’s goals could be redundant.
“That said, competition between SoCalBio and Biocom might not be a bad thing and L.A. might benefit if both organizations had strong focus,” Lasch said.
Ahmed Enany, chief executive of SoCalBio, declined to comment on the impending arrival of a potential rival.
In a statement, his group said, “SoCalBio embraces its role as the region’s primary advocate and watchdog for the issues that impact local biotech, medtech, diagnostic and digital health communities.”
Biocom has said it will seek to accelerate the growth of the life sciences community in Los Angeles, which includes nearly 300 biopharmaceutical and medical device companies, in addition to hospitals and biomedical research organizations.
“To compete globally, it means we promote ourselves as a region and take advantage of the strengths that exist throughout Southern California,” said Joe Panetta, its chief executive.
The launch of Biocom in Los Angeles comes after a 2014 report by the Batelle Technology Partnership Practice to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors recommended that the county work with a local organization to advance the bioscience industry.
Between the poles of Los Angeles and San Diego, the Southern California area is estimated to be one of the largest life science clusters in the country, with the counties’ medical centers generating nearly $1 billion in National Institutes of Health-funded research.
Biocom, which has approximately 30 staffers in offices in Washington, D.C.; Tokyo; Sacramento; and San Diego, said it was attracted to this area because of the opportunities and wealth of capital.
“It’s important to team up,” Panetta said. “I wouldn’t say there is overlap (with SoCalBio), because we do everything we can to work together.”
Biocom, founded in 1995 by a group of San Diego biotech executives, is funded through annual dues ranging from $1,500 to $35,000, depending on a company’s size.
“I think there’s a lack of understanding about how expansive the life sciences industry in L.A. already is,” said Dina Lozofsky, who will serve as executive director in the new L.A. office. She had previously been associate director of licensing and business development at UC Santa Barbara.
“There’s no reason lots of organizations can’t help the same groups, the same organizations. More is better,” Lozofsky said.
Biocom expects to sign a lease for its new office in the CitiGroup Tower in downtown and staff up the local outpost with two to five employees.
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