A Medical Device Daily

The Southern California Biomedical Council (SoCalBio; Las Angeles), BIOCOM (San Diego) and BayBio (South San Francisco), which together represent life science firms and research organizations across California, reported an alliance to promote the state's life science industry.

The California Life Science Alliance is based upon a memorandum of understanding signed at last week's 2008 BIO International Convention in San Diego. According to the three-year agreement, the organizations will pool resources and work together to address a range of public policy issues.

The new alliance recognizes that California is the "birthplace of biotechnology and the undisputed leader in global biocommerce and innovation." But while the life science industry is one of the state's largest employers and economic catalysts, it has not garnered its fair share of visibility and recognition, according to the organizations.

"Citizens and elected officials tend to understate our industry's vast contribution to California's economy and society as a whole," said Joe Panetta, president/CEO of BIOCOM. "By working together as an alliance, we can make sure that our representatives in Sacramento and Washington, as well as the public at large, understand that the life science industry is vital to California's future."

With more than 200,000 employees at about 5,000 establishments that generate more than $70 billion in revenues, California's life science firms and research organizations represent nearly half of the world's biotechnology industry, the groups noted. They employ a large workforce and generate a financial impact rivaling that of other sectors such as film and television production, which is routinely heralded as one of California's most important signature industries.

"For too long, California's biotech industry hasn't been recognized for its economic impact, as well as its role in shaping the future of healthcare. The alliance announced today will help remedy this problem," said Matt Gardner, president/CEO of BayBio.

The alliance will focus on public policy and joint advocacy efforts at the state and federal levels. The three organizations will also collaborate on life science industry conferences and joint purchasing group opportunities.

"Regions throughout the world are aggressively trying to lure our biotech firms and the clean, high-paying jobs that go with them," said Ahmed Enany, president/CEO of SoCalBio, which represents the life science and medical device industries throughout the greater Los Angeles area. "Raising the visibility of this vital industry will help Californians understand that California must work proactively to retain its leadership in biotech innovation and commercialization."

California is home to industry leaders such as Amgen (Thousand Oaks), Genentech (South San Francisco) and Invitrogen (Carlsbad). It's also home to hundreds of smaller biotech, medical device, diagnostic and scientific service companies, as well as a diverse range of service providers that help the industry succeed.

In addition, California is home to research institutions including the University of California-San Francisco, Stanford, UC Berkeley, the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of Southern California (Los Angeles), the University of California-Irvine, California Institute of Technology (Pasadena), University of California-San Diego, Salk Institute (La Jolla) and the Scripps Research Institution (also La Jolla), which serve as life science innovation and talent centers.

The California Life Science Alliance said it is open for participation with other regional organizations that help strengthen the alliance and promote the life science industry throughout California. The memorandum signed does not constitute an agreement by any of the entities to provide financial support for any individual project or activity.

BayBio, Northern California's life sciences association, more than 400 members involved in R&D and commercialization of life science technologies. Over a third of its members develop medical technologies, diagnostics and research tools.

BIOCOM represents more than 570 member companies in Southern California. It focuses on initiatives that position the region's life science industry competitively on the world stage, and on the development and delivery of innovative products that improve health and quality of life.

SoCalBio is the member-supported trade association of the life-science industry in Greater Los Angeles. Its mission is to promote biomedical and life science R&D, manufacturing and overall economic development in the six counties that comprise the greater Los Angeles region.