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Grow Your Network with Biotech Connection Los Angeles
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Lining Zhu


Los Angeles is home to thousands of graduate students in the life sciences. However, to most, it’s not a permanent home. Many graduate students leave the area for job opportunities in big biotech hubs like the Bay Area, San Diego, or Boston. In 2014 Biotech Connection Los Angeles (BCLA) was founded by two University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) postdoctoral fellows, Stefanie Volland and Katrina Choe, to retain local talent and strengthen the synergy between academia and industry. They believe that Los Angeles, which is producing top talent and exciting innovations, should become the next big biotech hub.


Founded in 2014, BCLA is an organization run by graduate students, postdocs, and early-stage professionals from all over Los Angeles. Since the beginning of 2017, BCLA is also a project of the 501(c)3 non-profit, Community Partners, enabling them to better serve the local community. The organization strives to inspire, educate, and connect scientists and entrepreneurs with the goal of growing and diversifying biotech in LA.


Since its beginning, BCLA has received continuous support from California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA and The Bridge Institute at the University of Southern California (USC). BCLA is proud to collaborate with many local organizations such as the LA Mayor’s Office, Biocom Los Angeles, LABiomed, LABioStart, and others, driving biotech in LA forward. The BCLA offers several eclectic programs like networking opportunities for matching talent with local companies and advocating for scholars to become entrepreneurs.


BCLA networking opportunities for talent and local companies

Biotech Connection, Los Angeles.

Courtesy of Lining Zhu

BCLA creates networking opportunities for postdocs and graduate students by putting on quarterly biotech mixers. BCLA’s annual “Bioscience Talent Connection” (BTC) is one of their most popular events, which has seen over 100 attendees in the past two years, and they anticipate that this year attendance is going to exceed these numbers. BTC successfully connects academic researchers and industry professionals with a lineup of local biotech companies actively hiring. BTC features interactive career panel discussions, career workshops, networking lunch, and specific company spotlights. The event is relevant not only to people looking for jobs in the near future, but also for students and postdocs in general to improve their CVs, develop networking skills and understand the market for a prospective transition to the life science industry. Another event the BCLA is hosting is a Medtech Panel on April 10, 2018, to educate job-hunters on hoping to transition from a more traditional bioscience position to the fast growing field of medical technology. 


BCLA advocates for entrepreneurship

Full day events like BCLA’s Entrepreneurship Summits allow researchers to learn that they have the potential to become the next generation of biotech entrepreneurs. By connecting academics with mentors and exploring topics such as building your team, identifying your unique value proposition, pivoting and adapting your business model, funding your startup, navigating intellectual property, and finding wet lab space in LA, BCLA enables young entrepreneurs to take their ideas to the next level. Additionally, BCLA hosted a pitch competition as part of the summit’s program in the last two years. In our 2017 summit, fourteen contestants impressed our judges with their two-minute pitches and posters. Winners received prizes to give them a head start on their entrepreneurial journey.


In addition to hosting an annual Entrepreneurship Summit, BCLA has partnered with Lab Launch to found the Biotech Entrepreneurship Coalition (BEC). The coalition offers a seminar series for students and postdocs, inviting scientists-turned-entrepreneurs to pass on their tips for success. Emerging entrepreneurs can gain insight and find support and guidance through this monthly program.


The BCLA team is tight-knit and ambitious

BCLA values strong teamwork and excellent work ethics. Currently, BCLA’s core team consists of 17 volunteer members, coming from the University of California Los Angeles, University of Southern California, LABioMed, City of Hope, and Thermo Fisher Scientific. The multinational team features people from India, China, Portugal, Austria, Spain, Russia, Italy, the United States, and Canada. The passion and hard-work of this team enables BCLA to deliver high-quality events. During monthly in-person meetings, the team lays out plans for the next events, brainstorms fundraising strategies, determines potential sponsors, partners or speakers, and analyzes post-event surveys, to fine-tune their programs.


Alongside their external partners, the BCLA team works to turn biotech into a major economic pillar of Los Angeles, and to transform the city into a place where biotech entrepreneurship flourishes and life science professionals call home.


If you are interested in growing your network, visit the BCLA website at and sign up for the newsletter to stay up to date. Help BCLA to make LA the next big biotech hub!


Lining Zhu, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow at the City of Hope. Outside the lab, she likes hiking and camping in national parks.


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