Innovation Hub: Carlsbad’s Biotech Cluster

Innovation Hub: Carlsbad’s Biotech Cluster

By Emmet Pierce

Guest Writer

Editor’s Note: This content was originally created by our team for the City of Carlsbad

Carlsbad’s high quality of life and rich pool of skilled workers are attracting cutting-edge life sciences companies from other industry hubs.

Carlsbad is an important part of the San Diego region’s top life sciences cluster, said Joseph Jackson, co-founder of Bio, Tech and Beyond, a science and technology incubator that leases lab space to a variety of startup tenants.

“It is one of the better managed cities in the region,” Jackson said. “That is why it keeps attracting blue chip and innovation companies.”

The city has worked hard to make Carlsbad a welcoming place for life science companies and the high-paying jobs they create, said Jackson, who came to Carlsbad from Silicon Valley in 2013. The city leased Jackson a 6,000-square-foot building on Faraday Avenue to serve as a start-up incubator. 

Bio, Tech & Beyond  leases lab space to a variety of startup tenants.

Since then, tenants at Bio, Tech and Beyond have created more than 200 new jobs, Jackson said. The incubator has helped make Carlsbad one of the pillars of the San Diego region’s life sciences industry.   

Below, we take a peek into Carlsbad’s burgeoning biotech community that Bio, Tech and Beyond has helped foster. 

Lineage Cell Therapeutics

One of the new arrivals to Carlsbad’s life sciences community is Lineage Cell Therapeutics, a clinical-stage biotechnology company that develops novel cellular therapies. 

The company manufactures retina cells to help people with macular degeneration, said CEO Brian Culley. It also manufactures cells to promote recoveries from debilitating spinal cord injuries.

It was Culley who pushed for the move to Carlsbad as a cost-saving measure. A North San Diego County resident, he had no desire to relocate. The affordability of leased space and the close proximity to other top life science companies enabled him to make a compelling case for moving to Carlsbad. 

Lineage Cell Therapeutics’ Salk Avenue office currently houses 10 employees. It relocated from Alameda in the San Francisco Bay Area, although the company continues to employ people there as well as in Israel, Culley said. He described the Carlsbad office as “the heart and brain” of the company.

“It was really easy to find an ideal space for our needs,” he said. 

The team at Lineage Cell Therapeutics proudly rings the NYSE bell.

Another bonus was finding that labor costs in Carlsbad are much more affordable than in the pricey San Francisco Bay Area. Culley said his Carlsbad employees appreciate the lighter traffic and the local work-life balance. A soccer player, he said he already has connected with other local enthusiasts. One of the places he likes to play is Aviara Community Park. 

“It’s a delightful community,” he said. “It provides everything you need.”  

In Diagnostics

In South Carlsbad, Ana and Octavian Florescu started a company that develops disposable diagnostics based on a proprietary microchip. 

In Diagnostics was started in their garage a few years ago and soon after became a member of Bio, Tech & Beyond. At the beginning of this year, the company expanded into a 5,300 square foot facility near McClellan-Palomar Airport.

With a completed prototype, the In Diagnostics team aims to launch their first product by the end of the year, starting with a veterinary application. The couple has raised $3 million to bring their technology to market. 

Octavian completed his Ph.D. at UC Berkeley in biosensor technology and has over 10 years of experience in the semiconductor/IT space working with DEC, GE, Nokia, Quake Technologies and Qualcomm, where he developed control systems for nuclear reactors, software for network management, high speed digital blocks for 10Gb/s and 40Gb/s Ethernet, baseband PLLs for digital timing and RF front-ends for cellular communication.

He and Ana launched their business in 2018, after moving to Carlsbad from the San Francisco Bay Area. “We chose Carlsbad specifically because the work-life balance seems to be really good,” Octavian said. “We had a baby in May of 2018 and our second son two weeks ago. Carlsbad is one of the most family-friendly places we have seen.” 

Ana & Octavian Florescu, Co-Founders of In Diagnostics.

The couple enjoys the coastal lifestyle – Octavian is a surfer and likes the convenience of living a short drive from the beach.

Set on launching their commercial prototype, the couple hired a full time team and is gearing up to create partnerships with the local veterinarian community  “We’re very interested in connecting with local veterinarians who are interested in testing out our prototype, said Ana” Listen to more of the entrepreneurial couple’s journey on the Tacos & Tech Podcast.

As the region continues to grow as a booming innovation center, Carlsbad will contribute to the ecosystem’s growth by attracting and growing both large and small cutting-edge companies.  

Editor’s Note:  Innovation Hub is an original FBT series celebrating the extraordinary companies that span across the entire San Diego region. From software to biotech, Agtech, AI, fintech, cybersecurity, brewing and more, this series takes a deeper dive into the innovative industries that make up the collaborative culture of this diverse ecosystem.

Emmet Pierce

Emmet Pierce

Emmet is an award-winning journalist, freelance writer and content specialist based in San Diego.

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