As we reflect on the past year, California’s life sciences industry remained resilient amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, demonstrating stability and a clear focus on science to solve the world’s greatest challenges. Our sector continues to be a leading employer and driver of economic growth for the state. Now more than ever, the world sees and appreciates the importance of scientific innovation. Through the collective efforts of the California Life Sciences (CLS) community and its member companies, it will remain a place of hope for patients through advances in medicine and technology as we strive to improve quality of life around our world.

2021 was a momentous year for California Life Sciences (CLS). In June, we rebranded our organization to better represent our collaborative spirit and mission to advance solutions on issues of importance to the constituencies we serve. We launched and amplified initiatives that focused on supporting DE&I across our industry, put energy behind academic collaborations that address the shifting demands in talent and celebrated California’s most dynamic leaders and organizations with our annual Pantheon awards. We facilitated discussions on health equity, supply chain disruptions, drug development, drug pricing, and patient access. And we expanded the CLS team, bolstering our capabilities across all of our functional areas.

Here are a few of our highlights:

Federal Advocacy:  CLS had a successful year advocating for legislation that protects the ecosystem we represent.  In addition to the priority issues related to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, we educated Congress on the impact of drug pricing proposals that would have tied the prices paid in the U.S. to those paid in other countries. We supported delayed enactment of the Medicare Coverage for Innovative Technology (MCIT) final rule, articulating the value to patients of having access to the most innovative medical devices. CLS was successful in continuing efforts to expand the Affordable Care Act, resolve on-going supply chain issues, and promote the next generation of legislation that will build on the original Cures Act that helped expand patient access, better manage data and privacy for healthcare, and protect intellectual property.

State Advocacy:  In 2021, CLS focused on three priority issues including Right to Repair, a harmful bill that would require manufacturers of medical device companies to share design and repair information with unlicensed, unregulated independent repair providers. We stopped the animal testing ban. We moved the step therapy bill forward that ensures health insurance plans operate with expediency and transparency. In addition, CLS remained engaged on all topics related to COVID-19, urging Governor Newsom to update Vaccine Allocation Guidelines, including allocation and distribution.  We also pushed for inclusion of R&D workers in the Phase 1B Tier 2 category for vaccination to be in line with essential manufacturing.

Diversity: In June, CLS named Illyasha Peete as Executive Director of our Racial and Social Equity (RSE) Initiative. With her leadership, we’re investing in BIPOC-led community programs, such as NexGENEGirls, that increase STEM opportunities for underrepresented students. We’re promoting the hiring, development, and advancement of underrepresented talent. Through our QuickFire Challenge and FAST Program, we’re creating visibility and training platforms for diverse entrepreneurs. We launched a program to promote board talent and are advocating for equitable access to and coverage for care for historically under-represented communities.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship: :  The CLS Fast Advisory program served 25 life sciences startups this year, including 5 from Northern California, 6 from Southern California, and 10 from Canada and Japan. Collectively, 89 FAST California companies have raised more than $2.1 billion, including 34 series A investments, taken in $49 million in revenue, created 770 jobs, and have received more than 8900 hours of advisory services valued at more than $2 million.

Cost Savings and Strategic Partnerships: CLS continues to cultivate our network of productivity partners that provide our membership with curated discounts on products and services needed to grow their business. In 2021 we added many new partners in our partner program, CLSAdvantage, and expanded our partnership with the largest biotech group purchasing program in the world, BIO Business Solutions.  We encourage you to visit the CLSAdvantage program page to explore the different ways you can save.

California Workforce Trends Report:  Released in partnership with the Biocom Institute, the report highlighted the most pressing talent needs of the life sciences industry in the wake of the COVID pandemic and national calls to address racial and social inequity. This was the most robust workforce report to date, which included 355K+ job postings and hiring surveys and interviews with life sciences executives.

Virtual Events and Programs:  As we continued to execute our event portfolio in an online environment, CLS created new avenues to bring our members, partners and community stakeholders together around topics of importance for our industry. We introduced our Conversation with Thought Leaders webinar series, launched a new website that features a community portal, and remained committed to providing members with visibility platforms to showcase their thought leadership. We reimagined our annual Pantheon Awards celebration, opening the nominations and voting process to the public for the first time in Pantheon history. This format allowed us to maintain our legacy of recognizing excellence within our industry.  

We’re excited for what 2022 will bring. As we look ahead with optimism, we anticipate welcoming our membership back, safely together, in-person. The CLS team is working toward resuming our signature events–Pantheon, Evening with Thought Leaders, Life Sciences Academy, happy hours, executive roundtables, and policy receptions–while also contributing our resources to support the important work of our community partners and program beneficiaries.  

Thank you to our members for your trust in our mission. We are inspired by you. And we’ll continue to strive to offer best in class benefits that help propel your solutions.