On Saturday June 27, 2015, BCLA and LAb Launch’s Entrepreneurship Summit showcased the energy and diversity of the booming Los Angeles biotechnology startup scene during a busy half-day of talks, panel discussions, and breakout sessions. Invited speakers represented the entirety of the entrepreneurship landscape, from venture capitalists and incubators to legal services. Our keynote speaker, Dr. Dino Di Carlo – a UCLA Professor of Bioengineering and creator of Microfluidic Technology – delivered an inspirational talk on what it means to be a bio-entrepreneur and debunked many perceived conflicts between academia and industry. Dr. Di Carlo is a strong advocate for and a prime example of the synergistic benefits of the academia-industry partnership. The following panel discussions emphasized the necessity of building a strong team with diverse talents in order to navigate the multifaceted startup process and to attract the right type of investors. The panelists strongly cautioned against starting businesses with family and friends, especially newlywed spouses; these comments drew both laughs and affirming nods from the crowd.
During the breakout sessions, attendees chose from multiple mentor tables, focusing on topics ranging from legal support to business strategy. Each table was staffed with experts in the respective field to provide personal advice to the participants. We received positive feedback for organizing this more intimate format that provided attendees the opportunity to interact with industry mentors on a personal level. The event closed with a networking lunch with plenty of food and ample opportunity for people to mingle and build relationships. In the end, all participants walked away with a special booklet assembled by our team – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the LA Biotech Galaxy – a catalog full of information on useful resources within Los Angeles to support biotech entrepreneurs. Overall, we were thrilled by the great turnout and appreciate all the encouraging feedback. We would like to thank everyone who participated in this event, and we are especially grateful to our co-host LAb Launch, our sponsors, speaker, and all the panelists and mentors who made this event possible!