Lab Launch Inc is a 501(c)(3) non-profit working to establish a more dynamic biotech startup environment in Los Angeles.
Their mission is to enable LA’s scientists and entrepreneurs to develop their ideas in affordable, high-quality lab facilities, with access to services and a supportive innovation community to accelerate their success.
Me: Tell me about yourself, the team you worked with to Lab Launch and why did you build them?
Cox: I'm a molecular biologist by training. Lab Launch came about when I and my cofounders realised that many exciting new technologies and individuals were leaving LA to start up due to a chronic lack of independent lab space in the area.
Me: How did you find the space and funding?
Cox: We looked hard for space for appropriate space for several months before we met our current landlords and identified a suitable space. Initial funding was bootstrapped through the Founders, and much work was done by volunteers. We have more recently recieved sponsorship from corporate partners and our local municipality to build out the lab
Me: Was building the Lab Launch community hard? Who is/was part of the community?
Cox: Our comnmunity is diverse and growing. Our emphasis is on founders and early stage companies, but we are open to helping out anyone who needs space for their research. We even have a couple of "indie scientists" in our labs now. To help grow our community, we have also created "Biotalk", a regular series of networking/educational meetups to heolp scientists learn more about business and startups.
Me: What types of equipment did you find you needed and what were the challenges you encountered?
Cox: Our goal is to provide all the essential basics people need in a lab - fridges, freezers, hoods, etc. With help from our partners at HappiLabs, we found some excellent used equipment, we have picked up some unused surplus from local Universities, and we even have some equipment pieces on long-term, no-cost loan from academic labs that have downsized or are in the process of shutting down.
Me: What types of projects have you and the Lab Launch team worked on?
Cox: In addition to creating high-quality space for startups, we endeavor to support our residents in all aspects of business startup. That means for us, we cover a lot of compliance and safety management through OSHA, hazardous waste removal, etc. We are also working to increase opportunities by organizing networking events, training programs, and outreach to the wider community to promote biotech entrepreneurship
Me: What do you see as the future for biohacking in the CA and globally?
Cox: This is a very exciting time for Life Sciences. We see biotechnologies making increasing headway into all segments of industry - from manufacturing, to sensors, to food, to environmental management, to fuel, as well as of course healthcare and nutrition. As these technologies become increasingly main stream, many new opportunities will open up for people at all levels of education. Just as with IT in the past few decades, this process will have cultural challenges as biotechnologies are increasingly market-focused and regulated, rather than "garage hacking" - we see a key role of incubators and community labs in providing essential containment and safety education so that all can benefit from the biotech revolution, while maintaining essential standards that will prevent overly-aggressive safety and compliance legislation.