County looks to increase bioscience industry’s footprint in L.A.

Holly Schroeder,left, President and CEO of Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corporation presents the award for Tech Company of the Year to Chuck Alexander, Director of Product Management for Stratasys Direct Marketing at the SCV Technology Awards held in the Sharon Disney Lund Dance Theater at CalArts in Valencia on Thursday. (Dan Watson for the Signal)

Los Angeles County is sending a message to the business community: It’s serious about becoming a host for bioscience industry.

Expanding its commitment to the rapidly growing field of bioscience, L.A. County announced its latest effort, appointing two executives “to provide focused support to this industry sector and promote the county’s economic development priorities in the life sciences.”

Douglas S. Baron, a senior member of the county CEO’s office, was named the county’s director of business development for bioscience.

He’ll be charged with leading the effort to identify, grow, attract and retain businesses operating in the bioscience sector. Dr. Brad Spellberg, chief medical officer at LAC+USC Medical Center, is now the county’s medical director for bioscience.

The county is hoping his “groundbreaking work on antibiotic-resistant superbugs” will help catalyze the establishment and development of biotechnology parks in L.A. County, partnering with private sector, academic, nonprofit and public entities.

That’s perhaps the Santa Clarita Valley’s biggest avenue for making an impact, according to Holly Schroeder, president and CEO of the Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp., which has been a driving force in the attraction and retention of such business in the Santa Clarita Valley.

“We also want to make sure that as these companies grow, and move into production — whether it’s pharma, or therapies or a medical device, manufacturing — that they stay in L.A. County,” Schroeder said. “And they’re going to need facilities to stay in L.A. County, and that’s a big tie to us, because we’re going to have the industrial space, plus we have a big talent pool, because we already have a strong set of biotech companies here already, especially in medical devices.”

The Santa Clarita Valley has a growing cluster of about three dozen such companies, like UTAK, which has its U.S headquarters in Valencia in an 11,000-square-foot facility on Avenue Tibbets, and SetPoint Medical, on Rye Canyon Loop.

Los Angeles County is also hosting events to get the word out about its interest in attracting bioscience industry, Schroeder said, mentioning the L.A. Bioscience Summit on Sept. 20 as a type of outreach event that’s part of the attraction effort.

Boston Scientific, another significant part of the local tie to the industry, plans to have a speaker at the event. The SCVEDC worked with Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas on the SCV’s representation at the event, she said.

“We wanted to make sure the Santa Clarita Valley was represented, if we wanted to have a big county bioscience summit,” she said, “we wanted to make sure that all parts of the county are recognized in those efforts.”

The events are important, Schroeder said, because L.A. is often not considered in the same sentence as places such as San Diego, Boston or Minneapolis, but the reality is, L.A., especially in the Santa Clarita Valley, there’s space and opportunity.

“With world-renowned tech giants including Caltech, pioneering biotech companies and visionary start-ups, Los Angeles County is leading the nation in innovation, research and development,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger. “The county’s efforts to partner with research institutions and the private sector will result in greater economic growth, job creation and collateral success.”

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