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Building Biotech To Incite Innovation, developers continue to invest in research parks and incubators.
By Laura McElvaney
Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and Proctor & Gamble recently partnered with start-up companies to develop and clinically test nanobodies to treat cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, respectively. While scientists like those at Ablynx develop the next generation of medical treatments, economic developers work to create environments that foster such advances. Their go-to catalyst? Research parks. Since biotechnology cluster tend do grow rather organically from universities, constructing research parks and incubators continues to be a popular method for building a biotech industry, according to the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO).
The organization’s recent report, “Growing the Nation’s Biotech Sector: State Bioscience Initiatives 2006,” summarizes state initiatives over the past two years and identifies investment in research and development infrastructure, particularly in “mixed use” campus expansions, to be a significant trend. The BIO report also found that since 2004, 20 bioscience parks have been under development, plus an additional 15 multi-purpose research parks that include some focus on biotechnology. Here, we highlight some of the latest developments in research park and incubator construction discussed in the report.
The Big Three California, New York, and Massachusetts are bolstering their reputations as biotech hotspots through continued investment in facilities. Numerous parks in California are currently planning or undergoing expansions, including University Research Park (of the University of California, Riverside); Biomedical Research Park in East Los Angeles; and the University of California at Davis Research Park. In the past two years, the State University of New York (SUNY) has debuted new or renovated bioscience incubators at Farmingdale, Stony Brook, and Brooklyn, and Cornell University has opened one on its Geneva campus.
Not to be outdone, Massachusetts has added commercial space-including a Merck laboratory and a multi-tenant wet-lab building-to its Longwood Medical and Academic Area in Boston. Additionally, a third wet-lab building opened at Boston University’s Biosquare, bringing its square footage to 1.1 million, just over half of its targeted size. Each of these biotech meccas has seen exciting recent developments. In California, these include:
The opening of the 37,000-square-foot BioCenter 1, a $6.5 million incubator in Evendale Technology Park in South San Jose;
Phase one construction at a 303-acre development district surrounding the new University of California, San Francisco campus at Mission Bay;
Redevelopment of the Ames Research Center’s Moffett Field into 213-acre NASA Research Park; and
Development of research parks at California State Polytechnic at Pomona and the City of Hope Cancer Institute in Duarte.
In New York, significant developments include:
Development of the East River Science Park on 4.7 acres near the NYU/Bellevue Hospital medical campus in Alexandria;
Cornell University’s development of a 72-acre Agriculture/Food Technology Park at the Geneva campus of its New York Agricultural Experiment, for uses including agbioscience; and
Development of the Audubon Biomedical Science and Technology Park at the Columbia University Medical Center in upper Manhattan, and the development of the Downstate Biotechnology Park at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn.
Major Massachusetts developments of late include the development of the 15-acre Gateway Park (a dedicated bioengineering park adjacent to Worcester Polytechnic Institute), and planning for a 106-acre life science park adjacent to Tufts University’s School of Veterinary Medicine in Grafton.
The Illinois Science + Technology Park is meant to serve as a catalyst to transform Illinois from a scientific research hub to an economic engine for bioscience technologies.
The Four Corners Some of the biotech business from California and Washington is finding its way into the Four Corners region of the U.S. (roughly speaking, the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah), and not surprisingly, the beneficiary locations are rushing to make them feel welcome. Several research parks dedicated to biotechnology are in the works in Arizona, including the Phoenix Biomedical campus in downtown Phoenix, which will be centered around headquarters of the Translational Genomics Research Institute (Tgen). The city of Scottsdale and Arizona State University are producing SkySong, $320-million, futuristic research and office park that will contain retail and hotel/conference center space.
In addition, the Arizona Bioscience Park in Tucson will contain an estimated 2.4 million square feet of laboratory and office space. Recently expanded to 38 acres, Utah State University’s Innovation Campus has plans to construct “neighborhoods” for seven different fields, including genomics and pharmaceutical research and development. The campus in Logan, UT currently has six university affiliates and 22 tenants in its 10 buildings, but ultimately aims to stretch over 135 acres. The state’s biggest research park, the University of Utah Research Park in Salt Lake City, is fully occupied. A new 250-acre park facility within Utah is in the planning stages, though its site has yet to be chosen. Additional progress in the region includes the opening of the 40,000-square-foot Bioscience East building in the new 160-acre Bioscience Park Center in Aurora, CO.
The 60,000 square foot Bioscience Park Center located at the former Fitzsimons Army Medical Center in Aurora, CO is home to more than 18 early stage bioscience companies. Companies graduating out of this program will be able to continue growing in the 160-acre bioscience park at Fitzsimons.
The Southeast North Carolina is a clear leader in biotechnology in the southeastern United States, but neighboring states are doing well at creating a similarly ripe environment for biotech by pouring millions of dollars into research park construction. The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is currently developing a complement to Huntsville’s celebrated Cummings Research Park, a development that ranks just behind North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park in size, making it the nation’s second-largest research park. The planned 7,800-acre UAB Research Park at Oxmoor, AL will target pharmaceuticals and life sciences.
Though it is still in the early stages of development, the park currently includes an established 67,000-square-foot incubator and a large pharmaceuticals distribution facility. The university recently completed construction of the Richard C. and Annette N. Shelby Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research Building, a $90 million, publicly funded facility that will house research in autoimmunity and immunobiology, neurology, diabetes, and biomedical engineering and bone matrix research. Other research parks currently underway in Alabama include the University of Southern Alabama’s 35-acre USA Research and Technology Park and the 156-acre Auburn Research Park. Other recent projects in the Southeast include the following:
A $500 million bioscience complex in northern Virginia, the Janelia Farm Research Campus, which contains 760,000 square feet of laboratory space that should house 300 scientists by the time it is fully operational in 2009.
The addition of two buildings of wet-lab space totaling 230,000 square feet to the University of South Florida Research Park.
The 22,000-square-foot South Carolina Biotechnology Incubation Facility in Greenwood, SC, adjacent to the 500-acre Greenwood Biotechnology Park and Greenwood Genetic Center.
Georgia State University’s development of University Science Park and Georgia Tech’s development of Technology Enterprise Park, both in Atlanta. o Development of new research, technology and commercialization parks at the University of Mississippi and the University of Southern Mississippi.
Development of the University of Tennessee-Baptist Research Park, which will include a 165,000-square-foot biotechnology research facility, in the downtown Memphis Medical Center.
Located in close proximity to the National University of Singapore, National University Hospital, and the Singapore Science Park, Biopolis is envisoned to be a world-class biomedical sicneces research and development hub in Asia.
Singapore’s Biopolis Lures Life Science Investment Development of biotechnology parks is not limited to the U.S.; in fact, Asia may be outpacing the rest of the world in its pursuit of the industry. The 250-square-mile island nation of Singapore has become a powerful, if unexpected, presence in the biotech industry in recent years. A key part of its growth strategy has been the Biopolis, a cutting-edge research hub that forms a part of what’s called the “one-north” scientific community. The seven-building Phase I construction was nearly full within a year of its 2004 opening. Phase II opened last October, adding two blocks and nearly 400,000 square feet to the complex.
Today the Biopolis boasts 97% occupancy, with such notable residents as the GlaxoSmith Kline Centre for Research in Cognitive & Neurodegenerative Disorders and the Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases, in addition to the nation’s most prominent scientific institution, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR). Top-notch facilities and progressive government policies toward projects like stem cell research have attracted leading scientists to the Biopolis, including Alan Colman, a scientist who helped clone Dolly the sheep. The activity at the Biopolis, coupled with competitive incentives and aggressive recruiting efforts by the Singapore government, is spurring biotech sector interest throughout Singapore. MSD Technology Singapore Pte Ltd., a subsidiary of New Jersey-based Merck & Co., Inc., recently completed a $65.5 million expansion of its pharmaceutical plant at Tuas Biomedical Park.
The new facilities will manufacture drugs currently in late stage development. “When building plants such as these we take into account our expectations for future growth,” says Russ Watson, managing director of MSD’s manufacturing operations. “Singapore has a favorable business climate, an excellent distribution infrastructure, an efficient regulatory process, and a strong commitment to the environment-factors that matched Merck’s requirements when determining the best location for new facilities.” Watson says that the government’s cooperative, progressive attitude was also a factor in MSD’s decision. “Singapore is recognized through the region for its excellent educational programs, making it an effective base for recruiting the kind of high-skilled workers required in our business,” he adds.
Philips Medical Systems opened the region’s first training center for the use of advanced medical diagnostics equipment in Singapore last June. “[We] decided to locate our Medical Systems Learning Center in Singapore as it is a convenient location for our customers’ medical staff from all over the Asia Pacific, spanning the Middle East to China and South Asia,” says Tom Jansen, the center’s director. “As a vibrant regional medical hub, it also provides easy access to medical communities in the Asia Pacific.” Jansen also cites a business-friendly environment and strong educational system as reasons Philips chose to locate the learning center in Singapore. “The Singapore government is extremely pro-business with a keen [desire] to cooperate with industries and a strong focus to develop Singapore into a knowledge-based society,” he says.