Irvine’s Life Science Ecosystem Works in Nexus with City’s Strong Healthcare Sector and Research Institutes

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

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By Bryan Starr, President & CEO, Greater Irvine Chamber

Irvine is on par with any life science ecosystem in the world. In fact, Irvine leads the way in life science innovation in consequential ways that contribute to the city’s economic health and its position on the world stage. Contributing to this strength are synergistic collaboration and cooperation that deliver complementary products and integrated service lines across life science, healthcare, and medical-focused research sectors.

There are nearly 500 life science companies in Irvine employing nearly 300,000 highly-skilled professionals in the city’s diverse life science ecosystem. With more than 900 high-tech companies in the city contributing to life science discovery and innovation, looking a little deeper at specific life science industry verticals reveals the power behind Irvine’s ability to provide world-class healthcare here at home and to bring advanced medical science to the world.

Irvine’s life science portfolio includes verticals in biomedical, biotechnical research and development, and pharmaceutical manufacturing. The more than 150 companies in these sectors employ roughly 5,000 highly-skilled professionals, such as scientists, chemists, microbiologists, physicists, and engineers specific to their field. Some of the organizations in these sectors are globally-recognized names like Allergan, EdwardsLifesciences, and Masimo. Other integral partners within the life science and healthcare verticals include such companies as B. Braun Medical, which manufactures innovative medical products and services for the healthcare industry to address hospital-acquired malnutrition and hazardous drug exposure; 2C Tech, a manufacturer of nanoparticles for ophthalmology; and Kool Blast Gas, Inc., which produces pharmaceutical-grade cryogen for dermatological lasers. Still, others have divisions or subsidiaries that support their better-known offerings, such as the University of California, Irvine (UCI) and Hoag, which conduct groundbreaking, medical-related research in addition to education and healthcare, respectively.

Not only do Irvine’s leading-edge life science companies help bring the latest in medical advancements to patients and healthcare providers worldwide, they also provide thousands of high-paying jobs for Orange County residents, graduates of our nationally-ranked universities and research institutions—including UCI, and workers who locate here for the robust and varied career opportunities available.

What’s more, our strong life science sector draws foreign companies to invest and expand in Irvine. As an example, 11Health—a pioneering healthcare company that is combining patient lifestyle support and mentoring for ostomy management with the world’s first SmartBag that collects real-time, patient-generated data for preventative care—has expanded its U.K.-based operation by way of Tustin to the Irvine Spectrum Business Complex, where it employs roughly 100 skilled professionals. 11Health founder and CEO Michael Seres planned to base the company’s U.S. presence in San Francisco, but decided that Orange County was a better option. The combination of a strong healthcare and life science sector, access to talent, and working culture in Irvine created a powerful and compelling proposition.

Irvine is home to many new life science and technology companies because our innovation ecosystem helps them flourish. To augment this pace of development, Irvine can now add a state-of-the-art wet lab incubator—a laboratory used for the analysis and testing of drugs, chemicals, and forms of biological matter—to its growing inventory of assets. The newest and largest wet lab incubator in Orange County, University Lab Partners (ULP) at UCI’s Research Park, provides entrepreneurs with access to high-end, sophisticated medical technology and life sciences laboratory equipment, professional resources, and peer-to-peer interactions within the medical technology and biotechnology industries. ULP offers wet lab infrastructure and value not found anywhere else in Southern California.

The Life Science/Healthcare Nexus

Major healthcare institutions are at the leading edge of patient care in Irvine and Orange County in large part because of the developments made through extensive research in biomedical, biotechnical, and pharmaceutical fields. Researchers establish labs and facilities in Irvine because of the comprehensive healthcare inventory we have here. Likewise, healthcare providers continue to advance and thrive because of their ability to work in concert with researchers, scientists, engineers, and others who are continually on the cusp of tomorrow’s solutions to what ails us today.

Greater Irvine Chamber-partner healthcare institutions that are at the forefront of these symbiotic endeavors include UCI Health, which comprises the clinical enterprise of UCI, and its main hospital campus, UCI Medical Center in Orange. City of Hope, known for many firsts, is a leader in cancer diagnosis and treatment. Its $1 billion investment to expand its world-class cancer care network in Orange County with a 12,500-square-foot facility in Newport Beach, which is projected to open in late 2019, will be the first spoke of the main health campus planned to open in 2022 at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine. This is a testimony to the strength of our life science and healthcare sectors here in Irvine. Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian consists of two acute-care hospitals, Hoag Hospital Newport Beach and Hoag Hospital Irvine, as well as eight health centers and 11 urgent care centers. Its Irvine facilities include Benjamin & Carmela Du Emergency Pavilion, Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute, and Hoag Family Cancer Institute. Through its five institutes, Hoag offers specialized services in cancer, heart and vascular, neurosciences, women’s health, and orthopedics through Hoag Orthopedic Institute. Kaiser Permanente Orange County has provided comprehensive, affordable healthcare to Orange County for nearly 40 years. MemorialCare is a nonprofit integrated healthcare delivery system that includes leading hospitals and medical groups MemorialCare Medical Group and Greater Newport Physicians.

All of these and other healthcare providers and practitioners in Irvine and throughout the world depend on Irvine’s life science innovators for the latest and best that science has to offer.

One of the key factors behind the city’s long-established focus on innovation is the visionary Irvine Master Plan, which laid the groundwork for sustainable innovation in the life sciences when more than 60 years ago it centered the city around what is now the University of California, Irvine—home to more than 120 research centers and institutes.

Irvine continues to be well-positioned as a worldwide leader in life science innovation, enabling us all to live as well as possible.

Category: Economic News, Member News, Life Sciences