In 2000, Governor Gray Davis founded the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3) and three other University of California institutes for science and innovation. QB3, the only one of the four to focus on life sciences, now brings together over 220 laboratories at UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, and UCSF to support basic research and training at the highest level. The leaders of these laboratories are UC professors who see value in joining an institute that can connect them to colleagues and resources that can help them make discoveries and develop them to benefit society.

QB3-affiliated faculty include two Nobel laureates (Berkeley’s Steve Chu and UCSF’s Elizabeth Blackburn) and 41 members of the National Academies.

The institute is headquartered at UCSF Mission Bay, and operates research facilities at that campus as well as at Berkeley and Santa Cruz.

“Quantitative biosciences” is a broad term encompassing all aspects of modern biology that apply techniques taken from physics, chemistry, mathematics and computer science. Examples include advanced medical imaging (primarily MRI); computational genomics; medical device engineering; and high-throughput screening for drug compounds.

Over the past decade, QB3 has become involved in commercializing UC research. QB3’s economic initiatives have developed in an organic fashion, centered around UCSF Mission Bay, which has been designated a Biotech iHub.

Based on a systemic analysis by consulting firm Deloitte, QB3 created a separate division explicitly devoted to commercialization. That division, the Innolab, now handles QB3’s industry partnerships with Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, GE Healthcare, and other large companies; the seed-stage venture fund Mission Bay Capital; and QB3’s five-site incubator network, which a 2012 report cited as having helped launch 65 companies that have created 280 jobs and raised over $230 million in capital.

The QB3 network of biotech incubators spans both public and private spheres. The QB3 Garage, launched in 2006, was the first business incubator of any kind at the University of California. An informal partnership with midsize biotech company FibroGen saw the opening of the Mission Bay Innovation Center; subsequently QB3 opened a second Garage space in its building at UC Berkeley, and partnered with real estate company Wareham Development to open the QB3 East Bay Innovation Center in West Berkeley. QB3 also operates a dry-lab (business and computational biology only) space in Genentech Hall at UCSF Mission Bay, which includes the Canadian Technology Accelerator, space leased by the Canadian government for a biotech footprint in the Bay Area.

Beginning in 2012, QB3 has offered the program QB3 Startup in a Box—a standard package of services to enable UC and Bay Area entrepreneurs to incorporate well-structured virtual companies in order to apply for federal Small Business Innovation Research grants. In its first sixteen months, Startup in a Box has helped launch over 115 companies, 25 of which are already operational.

Bay Area life science startups can also benefit from joining the QB3 Accelerator, a membership program that offers group rates on services such as HR and benefits, payroll and accounting, insurance, supplies, and contract research organizations.

QB3 entered the investment arena in 2010 with the launch of Mission Bay Capital (MBC), an $11.3M seed-stage venture capital fund. MBC’s mandate is to invest in promising life science technologies emerging from the University of California. To date MBC has made nine investments, the first of which was in Redwood Bioscience, a spinoff from the laboratory of Carolyn Bertozzi at UC Berkeley.

UCSF professor Adam Abate (right) and student. Photo: Christine Fu

Taylor Holstlaw of Adheren. Photo: Christine Fu

Byers Hall, the QB3 building at UCSF Mission Bay. Photo: Elisabeth Fall

For more information, please visit:  http://www.qb3.org/