Community, business, and elected leaders gathered at the Rongxiang Xu Bioscience Innovation Center at Cal State LA to celebrate the grand opening of the facility, which will foster a culture of inclusive entrepreneurship and support the growth of the region’s bioscience industry.
The Rongxiang Xu Bioscience Innovation Center is a 20,000-square-foot facility at the southern gateway of the Cal State LA campus that can support up to 25 startup firms with wet lab and dry lab space, coworking areas, and multi-use classrooms.
The center is part of the Cal State LA BioSpace initiative and home to the Cal State LA BioSpace incubator, which provides critical laboratory space and helps emerging entrepreneurs turn their scientific discoveries into job-creating businesses.
“This is an important day not only for Cal State LA, but for all of Southern California,” said Jose A. Gomez, Cal State LA provost and executive vice president. “The bioscience industry holds tremendous promise for our region. It is creating new technologies, new companies, and new employment opportunities. It has the potential to expand and reshape our economy and our future. We are proud to serve as an anchor for a thriving bioscience corridor in the East and Northeast sides of Los Angeles.”
Many of those who attended the April 14 grand opening celebration were present for the groundbreaking of the center seven years ago. The official opening was delayed by the pandemic.
The development of the Rongxiang Xu Bioscience Innovation Center and the Cal State LA BioSpace incubator was made possible by investment from the university’s founding partners: the National Rongxiang Xu Foundation, including foundation chairman Dr. Li Li and foundation president Kevin Xu; the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors; and the Economic Development Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
“Today is such a huge step forward in ensuring Cal State LA’s educational leadership, developing our bioscience talent and strengthening our communities,” said Congresswoman Judy Chu, who represents California’s 28th Congressional District. “I am so proud that we have this resource that can help so many people in the San Gabriel Valley and in all of Los Angeles.”
Other speakers during the event included Congressman Ted Lieu, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, Assemblyman Phillip Chen, Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo, Assemblywoman Laura Friedman, Assemblyman Mike Fong, Karen Glenn Martinez of Grifols, and Wilfred Marshall of the Economic Development Administration. John Chiang, former California Treasurer, also attended the event.
“As an alumna of this institution, I couldn’t be more proud to see this development take place here as the university continues to spur innovation in the bioscience industry across Los Angeles, across the state, and across the nation,” said Assemblywoman Carrillo, whose 52nd Assembly District includes Cal State LA.
During the event, congressional leaders and state legislators presented Cal State LA with certificates recognizing the opening of the center.
“This is not just a celebration of this valuable resource for the region, but also a celebration of how far we have come,” said Howard Xu, director of incubator development and programming and professor of microbiology at Cal State LA. He is not related to the Rongxiang Xu family.
Xu oversees Cal State LA BioStart, an intensive, five-week training program that prepares emerging bioscience entrepreneurs to launch successful startup ventures, which is a key component of the Cal State LA BioSpace initiative and the university’s efforts to foster the bioscience industry in the heart of Los Angeles.
Cal State LA BioStart has successfully trained about 100 entrepreneurs in the region, including faculty and student teams. The boot camp is a collaborative project of Cal State LA, the Biocom Institute, and the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator. The sixth cohort of the program is set to begin this summer.
The Rongxiang Xu Bioscience Innovation Center honors the legacy of Dr. Rongxiang Xu, a surgeon, scientist, and inventor whose extraordinary advances in burn therapy helped alleviate pain and improve the outcomes for numerous patients.
For Kevin Xu, the son of the late Dr. Rongxiang Xu, the date of the April 14 ceremony carried special meaning—it was the same day he lost his father eight years before.
“My life since then, its mission, has been to continue his legacy, to fulfill his promise of supporting others and to make impactful influence to help others thrive,” Xu said.
In the years since the groundbreaking, Xu recalled passing by Cal State LA and seeing the building’s progress. “Every time I drove by on the freeway and saw the building, it reminded me that my father never left; he just changed into another kind of form.”
In 2020, during some of the worst days of the pandemic, when opportunities for COVID-19 testing were limited, Cal State LA partnered with Los Angeles County and the Governor’s Office to open a free COVID-19 testing site in the Rongxiang Xu Bioscience Innovation Center. The center helped to expand free, safe, and accurate COVID-19 testing for county residents.
“If my father were here, he would have done the same thing, he would step up and serve the community,” Xu said. “I believe in the future the center will nurture the next generations of scientists and promote the brightest minds, not only to reshape our world, but make our world a much better place for all of us.”
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California State University, Los Angeles is the premier comprehensive public university in the heart of Los Angeles. Cal State LA is ranked number one in the United States for the upward mobility of its students. Cal State LA is dedicated to engagement, service, and the public good, offering nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education, and the humanities. Founded in 1947, the University serves more than 26,000 students and has more than 250,000 distinguished alumni.
Cal State LA is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility, Billie Jean King Sports Complex and the TV, Film and Media Center. For more information, visit www.CalStateLA.edu.