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AHMED A. ENANY AND A. STEPHEN DAHMS While many California biomed firms continue to succumb to the temptation of moving some or all of their operations out of the state, Alfred Mann and MiniMed adopted a different approach. Like other device firms, MiniMed is expanding its operations and revamping its facilities, and there is no doubt that the firm and its sister companies Advanced Bionics and Medical Research Group have received numerous lucrative relocation offers from other states and regions. But Alfred Mann decided to expand his operations in Los Angeles. His partnership with the California State University at Northridge facilitated by the Southern California Biomedical Council and supported by the mayor of Los Angeles involves the exchange of resources, people and ideas that will allow the two partners to gain. It will also spark novel entrepreneurial activities contributing to the economic growth of Northridge and the San Fernando Valley. This project is also important because it demonstrates how to bridge the cultural gap between the region’s educational institutions and industry, thereby creating a new framework of economic action to retain and grow the Los Angeles biomedical industry. For MiniMed, the partnership with CSUN provides cheap space to enable the company to expand significantly. It also facilitates access to unique university resources from intellectual resources to manpower that will help MiniMed and its sister companies to innovate, grow and compete effectively. For CSUN, the partnership with MiniMed provides a unique opportunity to gain more resources to build new areas of excellence, nurture its industrially relevant research activities and maximize access to good jobs by science, technology and business students. Also, the MiniMed/CSUN partnership will generate numerous economic benefits to Northridge in the form of increasing the community’s high-technology jobs and accelerating the growth of a biomed business cluster in the area. It is expected that more biomed firms will be attracted to the CSUN North campus site, and others, such as providers of supporting products and services, will agglomerate in the area to take advantage of business opportunities with the site’s occupants. The significance of MiniMed’s partnership with CSUN extends beyond these immediate economic benefits. This project is an important step in nurturing a different business culture that encourages collaboration between academia and industry for regional economic growth. Such collaboration is an essential requirement to grow the new Los Angeles “knowledge-value economy.” By this we mean a new economy that generates knowledge-intensive products based on factors that tangibly set them apart from other products available in the marketplace. In contrast to classic mass production, new economy industries are based on unique combinations of assets, human and otherwise, that tend to be geographically grounded. They therefore cannot be easily duplicated by shifting production to low-cost regions and countries. Examples include science-dependent, design-intensive and creative industries. It is our belief that the future of Los Angeles depends on nurturing knowledge-value industries from bioscience and robotics to entertainment and multimedia where the region possesses the assets needed to build lasting competitive advantages. These knowledge-intensive industries can stimulate the growth of not just related industries and services, but also the whole regional economy. Nurturing the Los Angeles new economy requires the involvement of the region’s centers of intellectual accumulation in local economic development. This is essential to enrich the region’s reservoir of unique assets from human skills to innovations to fuel the knowledge value revolution. Nowhere is this more needed than in the case of the biomed/biotech industry, which tends, by its very nature, to be science-dependent. Although many of us appreciate the gains resulting from the interface between academia and industry, creating effective bridges between the two institutions is often easier said than done. This is because such effort involves players separated by differences in mission, organizational structure and reward system. By comparison to other regions in the U.S., such as the San Francisco Bay Area or the Greater Boston area, this cultural gulf is wider in Los Angeles because of the historical absence of systematic efforts to link the region’s centers of learning and research with the knowledge-intensive industries of the future, including the biomed/biotech industry. The significance of the MiniMed/CSUN partnership lies in the fact that it illustrates how to cross the cultural divide between academia and industry in Los Angeles. One of the objectives of the Southern California Biomedical Council is to replicate this partnership throughout the Southland to create other nodes of biomedical and biotechnology knowledge-value centers that will be important sources of life-saving products, job generation and wealth creation. Ahmed A. Enany is founder and executive director of the Southern California Biomedical Council. A. Stephen Dahms is executive director of the California State University Program for Education and Research in Biotechnology.

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