Economic Development

Giant Amgen joins a nascent effort to build a new biotech hub in LA

Beth Seidenberg and Sean Harper are going to get some help in their push to help build a real biotech hub in LA.

Right on the heels of their announcement that they had raised a $320 million fund that would — in part — start seeding new life sciences companies in the Los Angeles area, biotech granddaddy Amgen is throwing its considerable weight behind BioLA, a new support group that hopes to foster the ecosystem.

The BioLA group includes county and city officials who would love to see a hub take root here, and now Amgen is on board as a founding sponsor. The big concentration of biotechs and pharma research groups in California is in the Bay Area, which is often compared favorably with Boston/Cambridge as they rival each other in venture cash and IPOs. LA has the heft of a major metropolitan area, and some of the world’s leading academic and healthcare institutions. But aside from Amgen and some notable players like Kite, there hasn’t been much of a concentration of biotechs in the area.

David Piacquad

Amgen will play a big role in this, whether it likes it or not. In the Bay Area, a steady stream of researchers has gone out from Genentech to start their own companies, often moving close to the mother ship in South San Francisco. And scores of biotech execs in the area have extensive resumes that include a stint at Genentech.

Amgen can play the same kind of role in LA.

“Amgen was founded in 1980 and has grown into one of the largest independent biotechnology companies in the world. We are now part of a vibrant life sciences community in and around Los Angeles County that has all of the ingredients for sustained success, including world-class research institutions, experienced managerial talent, ambitious startups, incubator space and venture funding,” said David Piacquad, senior vice president of BD at Amgen.


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