Westlake Village BioPartners Names New Chief Operating Officer

Westlake Village BioPartners, the two-year-old venture capital firm founded by former Amgen executives and focused on bioscience startups named Peter Calveley its chief operating officer on Wednesday.

A former executive at health care industry investment bank SVB Leerink, Calveley will lead the firm's daily operational functions and guide the company's portfolio of young life science startups, many of which started in 2018 through strategic business decisions.

"Where we're really making our efforts are to find the best, most promising technologies which have the potential to be used to develop therapeutics for patients and matching with scientific and business talent to drive those promising technologies forward," Calveley said. "A substantial amount of my role is ensuring that those companies are financed optimally, as well, as we consider financing and strategic options for all of our companies."

Prior to joining Westlake, Calveley had his hand in a number of bioscience startups while at the bioscience-focused SVB Leerink investment bank. He saw many of them through in-licensing, acquisitions and even initial public offerings.

Last year, Westlake launched two funds worth $500 million. The largest of the two will invest in 12 Series A startups, with an eye toward Southern California companies. The rest of the funds will go toward Series B or later-stage startups.

Already, Westlake has invested in at least three new companies — a gene therapy startup in San Diego and two L.A. companies including ACELYRIN, a biopharma startup focused on immunology.

The firm opened a 130,000-square-foot campus outfitted with a lab in Thousand Oaks near Amgen for many of its younger startups to work out of. Co-founding Managing Director Sean Harper told the L.A. Venture podcast that he was particularly interested in seeding companies — usually with about $1 million — that it could incubate and take through successful rounds of funding.

"We don't do devices, or diagnostics or digital health. It's all about getting medicines to patients," he told the podcast.

The firm is taking advantage of Southern California's growing biotech community. According to a recent report from Biocom, the nonprofit tracking life science companies across California, L.A. County brought in over $1.1 billion in government funding in 2019 — the most of any county in California.

"The reason why I initially got into the biotech industry was it's an industry which is unique in the fact that it can have an unbelievable impact on young people's lives," Calveley said.

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