BayBio and CHI Merge, Making California Life Sciences Association the Largest Life Sciences Advocacy Group in U.S.

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May 13, 2015
By Riley McDermid, Breaking News Sr. Editor

Two of the Bay Area’s leading advocacy groups for life sciences and biotechs have formalized their marriage, with BayBio and California Healthcare Institute (CHI) merging to create a new entity, the California Life Sciences Association.

The new entity is the largest such state advocacy group in the country, with 750 members, and the leading voice for biotech/life sciences causes across strata both political and regional. CLSA is a nonprofit previously known as the BayBio Institute.

“Our industry is at the cusp of improving global healthcare, but without supportive public policy, the potential of new innovations to transform health and life will not be realized,” said Rick Winningham, chairman of CLSA and chairman and CEO of Theravance Biopharma, in a statement. “Through CLSA, we have created the strongest possible organization, advocating for policies that support innovation and enable the success of our member organizations, as well as the growth of the life sciences sector within California.”

In an interview last month with BioSpace , BayBio said the Bay Area is commonly considered “the birthplace of biotech,” a region that now includes nearly 1,000 companies, directly and indirectly employs 125,000 people, and generates $29 billion in revenue.

Biotech Bay also represents “the full spectrum of life sciences,” including digital health innovators blending technology and medicine to transform healthcare; biotechnology, medical device and diagnostic companies that are advancing medicine; agricultural companies that use biotech to improve their yields; and bioindustrial organizations that lobby and reform all worldwide.

With this completed merger, CLSA now serves over 750 biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical device, and diagnostics companies, research universities and institutes, investors, and service providers. CLSA is headquartered in California with offices in San Diego, South San Francisco, Sacramento, and a national lobbying arm in Washington, D.C.

“Our top priority is the wellbeing of people everywhere,” said Sara Radcliffe, president and CEO of CLSA. “Our society depends on advancements in science and technology to create a greater quality of life through transformative innovation. CLSA is committed to providing one robust, unified voice for California’s life sciences sector, which works tirelessly to drive advances that will benefit patients and consumers in the U.S. and around the world for many years to come.”

The jobs that are rooted in the Bay are certainly unique and committed to building a lasting local ecosystem. Last month Johnson & Johnson ’s new 30,000 square foot life science incubator, JLABS @South San Francisco, will eventually accommodate up to 50 life science startups in the Bay Area and hopes to spark an “innovation revolution” across the region, Melinda Richter, head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS, told BioSpace at CALBIO 2015 exclusively.

“We look forward to building relationships with innovators in the region and filling JLABS @SSF with cutting-edge startups across the healthcare spectrum, as well as kicking off our education events at the site,” Richter told BioSpace in an interview. “In addition, we are also always continuously evaluating additional life science hubs that may be a good fit for the JLABS model, in order to enable more entrepreneurs to gain access to the resources of JLABS.”

The latest addition to the Johnson & Johnson Innovation family was hatched several years ago and is a sign that the industry is moving quickly to bring hot new life sciences startups directly into the experimental and funding models that had long been monopolized by larger, better connected early-stage companies.

The new South San Francisco location will house five companies to begin with: Applied Molecular Transport (AMT), which focuses on therapies for immune-mediated inflammation and metabolic diseases; Audentes Therapeutics, which is developing new treatments rare diseases through gene therapy technology; Cortexyme, an Alzheimer’s and other disorders of aging company; and MiNDERA, which is creating non-invasive skin tests to help aid in the diagnosis of skin cancer and other skin diseases.