For a startup company, time and funds are undeniably limited.
Networking effectively and cultivating appropriate partnerships can make all the difference while striving for growth. Where do you find life science events in Orange County and how do you choose the right ones to attend? When should I spend money on events and how to attend others cost free?
There are life science events every single day in Orange County, Los Angeles, and San Diego. However, circulating within a familiar (if not always effective) group of people wanting only your business can be a difficult to avoid. As a startup, you are seeking sincere mentorship and productive relationships.
1 Million Cups is a fantastic place to find eager, early-stage entrepreneurs and well-seasoned individuals alike. Lively and almost always a full house, this group invites two speakers each week (every Wednesday) to introduce their companies. Each is given roughly five minutes to present with about 20 minutes of audience feedback through questions and comments. Following the speakers, there is an hour of dynamic networking. There is no cost to attend and complimentary coffee is always on hand!
UC Irvine in particular is becoming a hub for progressive work in the medtech and biotech spaces. A prime spot to get connected is UCI Beall Applied Innovation (BAI), which held 600+ events (a mixture of paid and unpaid) and welcomed over 50,000 visitors through their doors just this past year. Along with their startup incubator (Wayfinder), their ability to draw a combination of top researchers, angel investors, and other curious minds makes BAI/UCI a fertile resource for the OC/Southern California life sciences community.
The Orange County Life Sciences Innovators Forum (OC LIFe) is a monthly free event series focused on creating a collaborative environment that fosters connections between innovators in the life sciences industry. OC LIFe aims to connect industry with entrepreneurs and strengthen the life sciences and medical technology communities.
JLABS (Johnson & Johnson Innovation) also consistently offers paid and free life science events. Held in San Diego for their Southern California sector, this organization endorses itself as “the premier life science incubator empowering and enabling innovators to deliver life-enhancing health and wellness solutions to people around the globe.” Consistently inviting compelling speakers with fascinating projects, JLABS brings life sciences innovators to the world’s stage, right in your backyard.
Biocom presents a wide variety of topics within the life sciences community, fostering a mentality of actionable change with a focus on public policy. Offering over 150 annual events, this institution can be a great place to network effectively and get educated. CLSA similarly holds events centered on creating a bright future for California’s life scientists. They are “committed to ensuring that the life sciences entrepreneurs connect to the capital and resources needed to sustain critical innovation in the industry.”
OCTANe is another organization that continually puts on fruitful events, as well as stages larger scale gatherings several times per year. Although there is most often a cost associated and memberships are offered, this company draws quite the crowd. With access to an accelerator, network of investors, and programs for later stage startups, OCTANe can be impactful in getting connected within our local life science and technology startup space.
Attending a variety of free events when starting out can be a great idea for exposure and experience. However, you will quickly recognize which gatherings attract the type of relationships you seek versus which organizations may cast too wide of a net with little substance. You will want to ask yourself: What am I trying to get out of a particular event? What’s my objective? There is a wide array of choices out there so, keep an open mind while finding your feet. You may want to watch out for the word “networking” if a group is not life science related. While this seems initially counter-intuitive, it can often equate solely to “sales opportunity” for others. There is nothing wrong with networking in this way (nor sales!), but a startup must use time wisely. Wasted time is wasted capital in the absence of actual capital, especially at the beginning.