Image Source: UCLA Health

Skeptics once doubted the feasibility of a high-speed rail connecting LA to Las Vegas, but now it's becoming a reality. Perhaps all it takes is the right team to turn the improbable into the possible.

LA County has invested millions to establish itself as a biotech hub, including funding the nonprofit BioscienceLA and its BioFutures program. The county's investments have also created a supportive infrastructure with initiatives like the 20,000-square-foot BioscienceLA office in Culver City, generating significant economic activity and jobs. However, despite these efforts, LA has remained a secondary market for biotech and life sciences due to geographic sprawl and limited supply of life science/biotech space, even though the region boasts significant life science talent.

Life Science Degree Completions by Vacancy Comparison

Cushman & Wakefield

A leading figure in the biotech scene in Los Angeles is the impressive biotech entrepreneur, Arie Belldegrun. Belldegrun has played a significant role in the successful exits of Agensys, Cougar Biotechnology, and Kite Pharma, which collectively sold for $13.4 billion. An Israeli-born urologist and immunology researcher, Belldegrun has been instrumental in building the biotech sector in Los Angeles. Utilizing proceeds from these exits, he established Bellco Capital, which primarily invests in life science and real estate companies, and co-founded several biotech-focused funds and ventures.

Belldegrun's efforts have culminated in the creation of the California Institute for Immunology and Immunotherapy at the former Westside Pavilion in Westwood, in collaboration with other prominent figures and philanthropists. The 700,000-square-foot property, acquired at the end of 2023, will also house the UCLA Center for Quantum Science & Engineering. “The goal is to build the immunology equivalent of Silicon Valley in Los Angeles,” says UCLA Health CEO John Mazziotta, MD, PhD. The center will hold its own patents and will eventually foster new biotech startups through its incubator and accelerator programs. The initiative has secured $500 million in state funding and plans to raise an additional $1 billion, positioning Los Angeles to become a leading biotech hub alongside regions like the Bay Area, San Diego, and Boston. Despite challenges posed by the city's geographic sprawl, these combined efforts by leaders like Belldegrun and county programs are transforming LA's biotech landscape, fostering a thriving environment for future scientific and commercial successes.

Happy Friday Los Angeles!

🔦 Spotlight

University of Southern California has long been known for big spending parents, but the university is now also attracting big investment in the form of research grants from agencies and institutions.

In 2023, USC’s annual research expenditures reached $1.04B, driven by federal grants supporting health protections for children against air pollution, quantum computing research, and stem cell research targeting kidney disease and Lou Gehrig's disease. USC President Carol Folt's initiatives, including the Frontiers of Computing initiative with a pledged $1 billion investment by 2030, have positioned the university among the top private research institutions in the United States. Noteworthy researchers, such as Paul Aisen and Massoud Pedram, have played crucial roles, with USC leading in computer and information sciences spending on the West Coast and ranking fifth nationally.

The National Institutes of Health is USC’s most significant source of research funding ($387 million), followed by the U.S. Department of Defense ($107 million) and the National Science Foundation ($72 million). The fourth largest in 2022 was pharmaceutical company Cognition Therapeutics ($21 million), followed by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, the state’s stem cell research agency ($11 million).

Image Source: USNews

The big question now is: will all of this funding translate to more founders, startups, and venture funding in Los Angeles? Time will tell, but as Silicon Valley emerged and grew around Stanford over the last few decades, hopefully our own Silicon Beach will continue to benefit from proximity to USC and LA’s other top Universities. ✌️📚🌴

🤝 Venture Deals

Just Announced

  • The Realest, a startup founded this year that operates a marketplace for sports memorabilia, raised a $4.6M seed round led by KB Partners and including BAM Ventures, NFX, Slow Ventures, and FLÜS Investment Group. - learn more
  • Act One Ventures, which focuses on investments in early stage companies involved in vertical SaaS, fintech, compliance, and ecommerce infrastructure, has raised a third fund of $73 million. The firm now has $148 million under management. - learn more

Actively Raising

  • ReelCall, Inc., an entertainment technology company focused on powerful apps and platforms that help build and maintain the professional network of connections vital to career growth, is raising a $850K Pre-Seed Round. - learn more
  • CZero, a startup building software to decarbonize logistics for logistics businesses and goods business through a vetted marketplace and optimization software. - learn more
  • Couri, a technology startup addressing last-mile delivery issues, is raising a $450K Pre-Seed Round at a $2.2M post money valuation. - learn more
  • Sweetie, a marketplace to help people plan date nights, is raising a $250K Angel Round. - learn more
  • StartupStarter, an investment platform that provides real-time data and analytics on startups, is raising an $850K Angel Round. - learn more

If you’re a founder raising money in Los Angeles, give us a shout, and we’d love to include you in the newsletter!

✨ Featured Partner

The WeAreLATech 'Experience' Club is for individuals working in LA tech; you can work at a startup or seasoned tech company.

We're engineers, investors, founders, designers, growth marketers, app developers, product managers and more... who do in person activities together 1-2 times a month. The concept is based on the saying 'More business gets done at the bar than in a boardroom.' That said, there's no panels or mixers. We have enough of those.

WeAreLATech was created by me, Espree Devora, back in 2012. I consider myself to be "an artist of human connection". Each event is my piece of art.

Activities include horseback rides, clay pigeon shooting, hiking, Price is Right gameshow, rooftop cocktails, surfing, escape rooms, food tastings, go karts, luxury beach picnics, drone flying, and the list goes on. We've done 100s of Experiences. Some events are curated by industry and others by role. The goal is to save you time making quality connections. Maintaining a strong culture and keeping the gatherings small, connective and curated is top priority.

Interested in more details about the Club? Check it out here.

And to listen to the WeAreLATech Podcast, click here

📅 LA Tech Calendar

Saturday, January 20th

  • The Future of Gaming: Opportunities in Connected Ecosystems - Join gaming enthusiasts and hear from speakers touch on the three foundations shaping the next phase of gaming technology: game transactions, privacy and security; authorship, generative AI, and new IP models; and decentralization, distribution, and extended gameplay. After the panel discussion there will be audience Q&A along with networking afterward.

Wednesday, January 24th

  • The Female Funders Club - Join this monthly networking event Wednesday evening in Santa Monica and connect with other tech-oriented investors, wealth managers, asset managers and women who are interested in starting their tech investment journey.

Thursday, January 25th

  • Product & Design Happy Hour - PMA LA is excited to kick off 2024 with a happy hour event at Truly LA. Because quality networking typically happens in a friendly atmosphere such as a happy hour, we're making it happen.

Friday, January 26th

  • Pitch and Run LA: Friday Runs - Join Founders and VCs for Pitch and Run Fridays! 7:30am near 17th St & San Vincente for a ~3.5 mile loop at an easy-conversational pace. Pitch and Run is designed to help you connect with others on ideas, passions, and life while enjoying a casual run. They started with a focus on people in tech/startups, but are open to everyone.


📙 What We’re Reading

  • Tune in to TenOneTen Partner Minnie Ingersoll’s conversation with Ivan Nikkhoo, Managing Partner of Navigate Ventures. From fleeing revolution at 14 to shaping the future of B2B SaaS investments, Ivan's journey is nothing short of inspirational. Uncover secrets to startup success and the art of building a vibrant venture community. - learn more
  • Silicon Valley Bank’s inaugural Innovation in Women's Health Report unveils an optimistic outlook for this undervalued and rapidly growing sector, despite broader VC challenges and obstacles within the space.. - learn more
  • Epic plans to contest Apple’s ‘bad-faith’ compliance with court ruling over App Store. - learn more
  • NEXT Life Sciences Secures $2.5M in Funding to Advance Male Contraceptive Product Plan A. - learn more

micheile dot com
When the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) passed last fall, much was made about the revamped electric vehicle tax incentive structure for new car purchases. Specifically that buyers would be eligible for up to a $7,500 rebate. But legislators also added language to the law that would create incentives for used EV sales. Naturally, this facet of the policy was largely ignored. That said, the used car market is typically around double that of new sales, meaning the rules for used EVs outlined in the IRA will have major implications for the country’s transition to an electrified auto fleet…eventually.
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