COVER STORY: Global Biotech Report
By Stefanie Ramsperger and Jack Rogers
From the March/April 2013 issue
The recovery in the biotech sector appears to be solidifying. According to the most recent biotechnology report published by Ernst & Young, the sales in established biotech markets grew more than 10 percent in 2012. This threshold hasn’t been crossed since the outbreak of the worldwide financial crisis. Expenditures for research and development significantly increased by 9 percent.
About $33.4 billion in venture capital was raised in the sector. However, mostly big enterprises profited from this inflow whereas small- and medium-sized companies still have to suffer from a depletion of seed money since the Recession. In contrast to the U.S., financing in Europe has not regained the levels seen prior to the financial crisis. A retreat in the public markets in 2011 resulted in overall financing levels that are back to those seen in 2008, reflecting the continuing struggles of the Eurozone countries over the sovereign debt of some member countries.
While the biotechnology sectors of Eurozone countries are relatively small, the uncertainty has driven investors across the continent to seek lower risk. One bright spot is that, similar to the U.S., Europe has seen venture capital hold relatively steady. Across Europe, there were 56 venture rounds of greater than $5 million (down from 65 in 2010). The most significant venture capital transactions included $39 million raised by Symphogen (Denmark), $99 million raised by Biocartis (Switzerland) and $96 million raised by Circassia (United Kingdom). Biotech accounts for approximately 15 percent of total venture capital investment across Europe, a slightly higher percentage than in the U.S. in 2011.
In Europe the list of commercial leaders—Actelion, Elan Corp., Eurofins Scientific, Ipsen, Meda, Novozymes, Qiagen and Shire—has not changed since 2007. In 2011, the revenues of these commercial leaders increased by 19 percent, while those of the other companies decreased by an identical percentage. The same pattern was repeated across all the major indicators, with the health of a few large companies increasing as the rest of the industry saw its performance worsen.
In this year’s Global Biotech Report, we zero in on several locations in Europe that are well-positioned for future success, including three biotech hubs in Germany and key biotech/ pharma centers in Austria, Belgium and Luxembourg that have strengthened their competitive position in the global market in recent years. As always, we also take a fresh look at the leading biotech and pharmaceutical hubs in the U.S.
Hessen Keeps Getting Bigger In Biotech/Pharma
Biotech is among the most important sectors of the Hessen region and this sector is growing every year. With Frankfurt recognized as the financial capital of Germany, the area is well known for its excellence in the service sector. However, the region also excels in manufacturing industries, and it is Germany’s logistics gateway to the world.
PARTNERS FOR INNOVATION: HESSEN RESEARCH FACILITIES WITH CORE COMPETENCE IN INDUSTRIAL BIOTECHNOLOGY
- Universities of Applied Sciences in Darmstadt, Gießen, Frankfurt: Main focus biotechnology and process engineering
- Technical University Darmstadt Goethe University Frankfurt: Joint Master’s course Molecular Biotechnology
- Justus Liebig University Gießen: Hessen’s only food chemistry course
- Justus Liebig University Gießen: Focal point of LOEWE project. LOEWE is a state initiative for the development of scientific and economic excellence in biotechnology; Fraunhofer Bioresources Project Group
- Philipps University Marburg, MPI for Terrestrial Microbiology: LOEWE project “Synthetic Microbiology”
- DECHEMA-Forschungsinstitue (DFI) in Frankfurt: Bioprocess engineering, interface between research and industry
Source: Hessen Trade and Invest GmbH
More than 19,500 people are employed in the biotech/pharma sector in Hessen. The area has 225 biotech companies (of which 59 are core biotech concerns), and 14 percent of these employ at least 500 people. In the last decade, Hessian biotech companies have more than doubled their revenues to over 5.2 billion Euros.
The strength of Hessen’s biotech sector are a multitude of R&D programs, its number of industry patents and its domination in the medical sector of biotechnology—known as “red” biotech, accounting for 81 percent of all Hessian biotech revenues (according to the latest Location Study Hessen-Biotech, which was commissioned by Hessen’s location marketing organization, Hessen Trade and Invest GmbH). However, industrial biotechnology (“white” biotechnology) is on the rise. About 56 percent of all biotech companies in Hessen have their own R&D programs.
White biotechnology is located at the interfaces of chemistry, biology and the engineering sciences. “It uses microorganisms and enzymes to create new substances and processes for the purpose of producing innovation for many different user sectors, for example amino acids, vitamins and aromas for the food industries,” explains Dr. Thomas Niemann, Director Technology and Future at Hessen Trade and Invest GmbH.
The biotech/pharma activities in Hessen center around two clusters: one is located in Central Hessen, the other is in the southern part of the State. Hessen is a stronghold in biotech production. Out of a total capacity of more than 830,000 liters of fermentation production in the manufacture of “red” biotech in Germany, more than 250,000 liters are attributed to Hessen. Production takes place in Frankfurt (sanofi-aventis), Marburg (Novartis- Behring), and Hanau (Heraeus).
Höchst Industrial Park in Frankfurt is one of Europe’s largest chemical and pharmaceutical parks and looks back to almost 150 years of chemistry tradition. Just in 2012, tenants invested 310 Million Euros, bringing the total to about 5.5 Billion Euros since 2000. Höchst hosts 90 on-site companies, among them sanofi-aventis, Bayer CropScience, Clariant and Celanese. Researchers, manufacturers, customers and service providers come together at the site and cooperate in terms of raw materials and infrastructure. They also join forces with regard to future-oriented technologies, because the Industrial Park embodies a wealth of research and production know-how. Site operator Infraserv Höchst offers services with regards to secondary processes; for example, they provide the companies with raw materials on-site, do the facility management and run site security. New companies can also rely on their patent lawyers, engineering consultants and other personnel services, which decreases their starting cost.
Hessen has five universities and five Schools of Applied Sciences that cooperate with biotech companies. Hessen is particularly strong in the field of Medical Technology. It comprises a total of 900 medical tech companies, which employ more than 20,000 people. Many of them are located at Höchst Industrial Park. According to Dr. Niemann, “one-third of the German production capacity of biotechnological medicine is centered in Hessen.”
Recently, the importance of “white” (industrial) has increased in the area. The Cluster Initiative Integrated Biotechnology (CIB) in Frankfurt supports networking in this field. The cluster was one of the winners of the “BioIndustry 2021” contest held by the Federal Ministry of Research. The Hessian state government also has set up a state initiative for the Development of Scientific and Economic Excellence (LOEWE) with the aim of providing long-term support for the research landscape. “This especially includes new ideas in Industrial Biotechnology,” says Niemann. “In Hessen, funds of more than 32 million Euros are made available for Industrial Biotechnology.”
Another promising biotech field is “personalized medicine.” CI3 is a network in Hessen to advance individualized immune intervention. It has been selected as one of Germany’s leading edge clusters in 2012 and has thus been awarded 40 million Euros by the German government. “Research in this field is very promising,” confirms Niemann. “The cluster, that is supported by the states of Hessen, Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Wurttemberg and has 120 member-institutions, is on its way to the very top.”
The cluster CI3 works on innovative medicine that is exactly adjusted to the individual patient, who suffers, for example, from tumors or autoimmune diseases. The center of the cluster is based in Mainz. The idea of the cluster is that companies and research facilities will work in partnerships on 78 different projects. The project partners estimate a total volume of approximately 130 million Euros.
“Universities, other research facilities, small and medium-sized companies as well as international players in the field—we have the whole value chain in Hessen,” says Thomas Niemann. Among the project partners are, for example, the technical university Darmstadt, Goethe University Frankfurt, the Paul-Ehrlich-Institution, Georg-Speyer-Haus, Abbott, Biotest, sanofi-aventis and Merck.
Berlin: Biotech Mega-Hub
The Berlin-Brandenburg region concentrates on clinical research. In the capital of Germany, biotechnology is a strong force driving innovation and growth, interfacing with the pharmaceutical, diagnostics and medical technology sectors. Berlin-Brandenburg has a versatile research and clinical landscape. HealthCapital, the cluster management of the region’s healthcare industries, was implemented in 2010. Its goal is to coordinate companies, research and education institutes to foster collaboration and innovation.
Among the focus areas of Berlin-Brandenburg are biomedicine and diagnostics, therapeutics and regenerative medicine and industrial biotechnology. Berlin-Brandenburg is home to more than 200 biotech companies. The sector employs more than 4,000 people. In addition, pharmaceutical and medtech companies in the area have another 10,000 employees each.
BIOMED IS BIG IN BERLIN
At Berlin-Brandenburg, most companies focus on biomedicine. 83 percent of the companies have their strengths in developing new diagnostics and drug development. 13 percent of the companies focus on agriculture and the food sector. 19 percent of the companies are active in white biotech.
If you take a closer look at the Berlin area, you will find biotech labs located in areas like Potsdam, Adlershof, Luckenwalde and Henningsdorf. Each of these areas hosts one of seven biotech parks in the Berlin area. Berlin is home of Europe’s largest hospital lab, Lab-Berlin—Charité Vivantes GmbH.
(Source: BioTOP Berlin-Brandenburg)
Like Munich, Berlin is a top location for start-ups. In 2012, Berlin was ranked the top start-up region in Germany by Foreign Direct Investment magazine. The region offers foreign companies reimbursement grants of up to 50 percent. Berlin is not only home of various start ups, but existing bioscience companies are expanding in the area. In 2012, Takeda made Berlin its distribution headquarters. The Japanese pharmaceutical company is Berlin’s most recent arrival, having relocated its distribution unit from Aachen and Konstanz to Berlin.
Also, sanofi-aventis and B. Braun Melsungen made large investments to expand their existing locations in Berlin. B. Braun Melsungen had their roofing ceremony in January 2013. The 38.2 million Euro expansion project increases the size of the production site by 65 percent. Injectable solutions in plastic containers will be manufactured there. The building will probably be completed by October 2013. Production lines will be installed in 2014. B. Braun Melsungen expects to create 25 new jobs by 2015.
In the past five years, B. Braun Melsungen already had invested 40 Million Euros in Berlin for expansion projects. 670 employees already work for the company in Berlin. In total, the business has three sites in Germany’s capital.
Among other major global corporations that are located in the capital region are Bayer Pharma AG, Berlin-Chemie AG, Pfizer Deutschland and sanofi-aventis. In the past years, sales revenues of more than 5 billion Euros were generated by pharmaceutical products of 24 Berlin-based pharma companies. Together, they employ 10,000 people in the area.
Among a variety of research institutes in Berlin that focus on Life Sciences are four Max Planck institutes, two Fraunhofer institutes, Leibniz institutes and Helmholtz centers, five universities and four universities of the Applied Sciences.
The Berlin Institute of Health (BIH) was founded in November 2012. On this occasion, Professor Walter Rosenthal, chairman of the board and scientific director of the Max Delbück Center for Molecular Medicine Berlin Buch, said: “The founding of the Berlin Institute of Health is a unique opportunity for the German science landscape to restructure the collaboration between a non-university research institution and a university medical center in the field of basic and clinical research.” The BIH will be established in 2015 by the state of Berlin as a public corporation and it will combine the research of the Charité and the MDC, one of 18 research institutions of the Helmholtz Association. The MDC employs more than 1,600 people from 57 countries and works with a budget of more than 70 million Euros per year. The goal is that the cooperative venture with the Charité will harness the strengths and expertise of both partners and significantly advance health research not only in Germany but also on an international level. It will focus on an interdisciplinary approach. For research of the BIH in the coming years, extensive technology platforms are being setup.
“Based on its excellence in interdisciplinary and transnational cooperation, the cluster HealthCapital Berlin- Brandenburg is generating innovations which are to benefit patients as soon as possible,” says director BioTOP Berlin-Brandenburg and cluster manager HealthCapital, Dr. Kai Bindseil. “The application spectrum for biotechnology is constantly increasing. While biotech has concentrated on developing new medicine and diagnostics in recent years, we are now moving on to new markets due to intelligent interconnections with branches like information and communication technology.”
To enforce cooperation at the interface of biotech and IT, Berlin brings together IT and biotech science and industry to develop interdisciplinary projects for innovative IT-supported healthcare. One example is the project “IT-Future of Medicine (ITFoM). The Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics is leading in the project. 60 institutions and companies have joined forces to develop computer models by which personalized “virtual patients” will be derived from the molecular, physiological, anatomic and environmental data of every individual patient. The goal is to develop optimal concepts with minimal side effects.
Public support remains an important factor for financing new products because only few companies have access to venture capital funding. A study by Fleischhauer, Hoyer & Partner has shown that venture capital has increased compared to the crises. With 70 million Euros most of the money was invested in biotech. Investments in medtech were also high with 66 million Euros. The study shows that the Berlin-Brandenburg area ranks third (Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia rank first and second) in regional distribution of all investment. According to the latest BioTOP Report, public funds worth up to 42 million Euros are provided by the federal states for fixed-asset investments and new product developments. The leverage effect generated a further 45 million in private investment. The federal government and the European Union provide additional double-figure million Euro funding.
For start-ups, the High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF), leading investor in innovative start-ups, has created a new fund worth more than 300 million Euros. Among the investors are Altana, BASF and Robert Bosch.
From Invention To Innovation In Bavaria
“Success through synergies” is the motto of the Bavarian cluster initiatives. To assist entrepreneurs in the starting up and expanding of biotech, Bavaria has set up three agencies under the cluster Biotechnology Bavaria: BioM is responsible for greater Munich, BioMed Würzburg is located in the north of Bavaria and BioPark Regensburg GmbH is responsible for biotech in the core of the state. Bavaria is home to over 320 biotech and pharmaceutical companies.
The cluster in the greater Munich area is home to around 200 companies. 19,000 employees work in the Munich Biotech region. With two universities, two universities of Applied Sciences, the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Neurobiology and Psychiatry and the Helmholtz Research Center for Environmental Health, the region offers an excellent environment for innovation. These institutes include, for example, the Center for Nanosciences, which is one of the world’s leaders in the development and application of nanobiologies. The Life Sciences Campus in Martinsried forms the core of Munich’s Biotech region. The agency “Invest in Bavaria” states: “The campus is home to nearly half of the region’s Biotechs.”
The focus of this area is on “red biotechnology,” particularly on diagnostics and therapeutics. The region is dominated by small and medium-sized companies, but eight corporations are listed on the stock exchange, among them MorphoSys.
Freising, located just a few minutes north of Munich, is home of the Weihenstephan campus. It is one of Europe’s major centers of green biotechnologies and has its own incubation center.
In 2012, BioM announced that the Bavarian Ministry of Economics granted four groups of young academics in the field of biosystems research. The subsidies by the state mount up to 1.5 million Euros for each team of young academics. The duration for the grant is five years. This lays the cornerstone for a new research network in the field of molecular biosystems (BioSysNet) that is being established within the framework of a new strategy called “Aufbruch Bayern.” The four young academics that lead the research groups have previously worked in Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and in the U.S. The goal of BioSysNet is to further strengthen Bavaria’s competitive situation in molecular biosystems.
BioSysNet is part of a Bavarian research center for molecular biosystems and thus profits from the subsidies by the Ministry of Science, Research and Arts and is being supported by “Aufbruch Bayern.” The total subsidies amount to 18.1 million Euros.
Bavaria’s north attracts entrepreneurs in the field of biotechnology and medical technology with its Innovation and Start-up Center for Biotechnology and Biomedicine. The Würzburg region is the largest entrepreneurship center in the district of Lower Franconia. The project “Life Sciences in Würzburg” has been established to provide consultancy services and to promote start-ups.
A third hub for biotechnology in Bavaria is in the middle of the state, in Regensburg. Back in 1998 the BioPark Regensburg GmbH was founded. The industrial park was supported by the State of Bavaria and built directly on the university campus at a total cost of 42 million Euros. The park has been expanded in 2001, 2006 and 2011 and now offers 18,000 square meters of laboratory, office and storage space for companies and institutes. Currently, 36 leaseholders and 550 employees have chosen the BioPark. The Regensburg region is home of 47 companies with more than 3,145 employees, 900 of them working in the core area of biotechnology. This makes the Regensburg area the second top biotech region in Bavaria.
The specialties of the university of Applied Sciences in Regensburg are fluorescent bioanalytics, molecular diagnostics, biofunctional surfaces, sensors and applied biomedicine.
In January, BioPark Regensburg GmbH announced that a new center for biomedical engineering will be established in the area. The “Regensburg Center of Biomedical Engineering” (RCBE) will move into interdisciplinary lab facilities in Regensburg’s BioPark. The aim of the new center is to bundle biomedical, medical, IT and engineering competencies and make use of the interfaces.
It comes as no surprise that Regensburg bundles its competencies in interdisciplinary research. For four years the University of Applied Sciences in Regensburg has offered classes in “Medical Information Technology.” Since 2011, “Biomedical Engineering” is a course of studies. Graduates are qualified to work at the interface of medicine and IT, or engineering, respectively. The RCBE will now support and bundle research competencies in these fields. Its focus will be on biomechanics, e-health and equipment technology for medical engineering.
Collectively, companies in Bavaria have performed well in the past years. Employment figures rose slightly by two percent. Bavaria’s 166 small and medium-sized core biotech companies employed a record-setting 4,000-plus people in the state. Since 2006, employment in these companies has grown by 30 percent. 126 of the 166 small and medium-sized companies are located in the greater Munich area. Core biotech companies account for 10,300 in Bavaria, a plus of 300 employees at Roche, Penzberg, which is remarkable. Adding pharma to this count brings employment in the sector to well over 20,000 people.
There were four newly established companies and among the most recent openings of international subsidiaries are three US-biotech companies and one Japanese pharmaceutical company. LabPMM, San Diego California, opened its German diagnostics Laboratory and Myriad Genetics, Salt Lake City, Utah, set up its central European laboratory in a new building in Martinsried.
Bavaria was countrywide the only state in the past year to attract foreign companies for greenfield development. Bavaria was able to chalk up about 70 million Euros of external biotech funding for Germany in 2011. Numbers for 2012 are not available yet, but it can be estimated that external funding will be higher after a rather meager year. At the same time, revenues of Bavarian biotech companies went up to a new record of more than 510 million Euros.
In 2010, the Munich Biotech Region along with Bavaria’s Medical Valley Nuremberg were winners of the Leading Edge Cluster competition by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Until March 2015, the main research and development strategy for several projects in the Munich area will push personalized medicine. Like the cluster CI3 in Hessen which got the same award only two years later in 2012, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research contributes 40 million Euros for the cluster. The Munich Biotech region received another 60 million Euros by the Bavarian ministry and industry partners.
Next to this, a number of Bavarian biotech companies receive grants by the European Union for their research and development projects. One example is the EUROCALIN Consortium, which includes ten companies, for example Pieris AG in Freising. Over the last 15 years, Roche has invested more than 2 billion Euros for their location in Penzberg to develop and produce therapeutic proteins. In the last two years alone, they invested more than 350 million Euros in new plants for production of therapeutics and diagnostics in Penzberg.
Belgium: Beehive Of Biotech
In Belgium, Flanders has specialized in plant biotechnology, whereas Wallonia has focused on health biotechnologies and medical technologies. Most biotech companies in Belgium are located in the northern part of the country, Flanders. Approximately 17 percent of the companies are in the Capital region, and Wallonia is home to around 34 percent of the companies.
More than 15 percent of the European biopharmaceutical exports come from Belgium. The country is said to be the largest exporter in pharmaceutical goods. A quarter of the world’s vaccines are produced in Belgium. As the world’s second largest vaccine producer, the company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK Biologicals) in Rixensart, southeast of Brussels, contributes to a great deal to this. Approximately 30,000 people work in the biotech sector.
Biotech in the three parts of Belgium is organized in special associations. Flander’s association is called “FlandersBio,” the association in the Capital Region is called “Brussels Life Tech” and Wallonia’s association is “BioWin.” Flanders in the North looks back to a strong tradition of biotechnology that is centered around the university towns of Gent, Mechelen and Leuven. Flanders is home to more than 120 biotech companies, most of which belong to the health and green biotechnologies sectors.
Brussels is home to mostly young biotech companies. Although the region covers not even one percent of the country’s territory, it represents more than 15 percent of the biotech activity in Belgium. Most companies in the capital work in medical biotech.
The same holds true for companies in Wallonia. Since 2005, the regional government of Wallonia supports biotechnologies with the so-called “Marshall Plan.” Setting out from this action plan, the Walloon government has updated and optimized its priorities via a “Marshall Plan 2.Green.” It has been endowed with a budget of 2.75 billion Euros for the period 2009 to 2014. 1.15 billion Euros are alternative funding.
EXAMPLES OF RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT IN WALLONIA
- The Cantol programme has resulted in iTheos Therapeutics, a new spin-off to combat cancer using immunotherapy. At the beginning of 2012, iTeos raised nine million Euros of public and private funding.
- The goal of the BioLine project is to develop, build and market a comprehensive platform of optical instruments based on patented digital holographic microscopy technology. To date, over a hundred different machines have been sold.
- Radiotarget is a project aimed at metastatic liver cancers, with the goal of destroying them more effectively. The consortium has developed the prototype for the reconcentration module of Rhenium 188, the radioisotope capable of destroying cancerous metastases. The development of such a solution is the first for the radiopharmacy sector.
One of the most important regional clusters is the “BioWin” life science network. 27 research and development projects are being funded within the cluster. “BioWin is establishing Wallonia as a world leader in various areas of cutting-edge technology, such as biopharmacy, cell therapy, radiopharmacy, diagnostics, biotechnological products for research and industry, bioinformatics and the processing of complex data,” says Frédérick Druck, communication and international relations director at BioWin.
The cluster has 510 members with 116 businesses and around 80 percent of its members are small and medium-sized companies. 400 research units employ about 11,000 researchers from five academic centers of excellence. With 14,300 employees and a turnover of 4.4 billion Euros, the health sector is key to the economy of Wallonia.
Of the 27 projects that have been funded as a result of the Marshall Plan, five have been completed. Druck says: “In the coming years, we will create 1,200 new jobs.” He adds: “With the help of the cluster we have made a big step in excellence in technologies.” One outcome of this is that 51 patents connected to the projects have been submitted and seven new products have been launched on the market. “We see that five new businesses have been set up,” Druck adds. “Now that there is a network there is a real dynamic.”
Internationalization is key to BioWin in order to strengthen its global competitiveness. Therefore, WAL-Dx/BioWin, the Walloon in vitro diagnostic network and its partner, EuroMediag, the diagnostic cluster of EuroBioMed, the health cluster for the PACA and Languedoc-Roussillon regions (France) joined forces to create EDCA, the European Diagnostic Cluster Alliance. The network already includes nine clusters and represents 400 companies and 40 universities across Europe.
“It was also important for us to create new technological platforms,” Druck says. MaSTherCell, Wallonia’s first technological platform dedicated to the clinical and commercial production of cell therapy products for third parties is a case in point. Realized in 2011, it helped create 20 new jobs. By 2014, 35 jobs will be created and 50 new jobs are predicted by 2017.
“In Wallonia, the universities in Brussels, Charleroi and Liège are hotspots for research,” says Druck. In total, 14 universities and several other research facilities add to Belgium’s great research experience. Flanders and Wallonia have five universities each and four schools are located in the Brussels area. On a regular basis, Belgium’s universities rank among the top 25, according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities. Leuven University, for example, has specialized on medicine, cell biology and gene therapy. Gent University, by contrast, focuses on biomedicine and plant genetics. Hasselt University is known for its expertise in autoimmune diseases.
The financial situation for biotech companies in Belgium is favorable. “For the last eight months we note that very small companies have found 60 million Euros private capital at venture capital funds,” says Frédérick Druck. The website reports that Belgium is Europe’s leader with regard to venture capital.
One recent investment was made by the biopharmaceutical company Union Chimique Belge (UCB). The company inaugurated a new biotechnology pilot facility at the Braine-l’Alleud site of UCB in September 2012. The site operates a research and production facility employing 1,500 people. The biopharmaceutical facility was constructed with an investment of 65 million Euros. Approximately 100 new jobs will be created. With the opening of the pilot biotech center, UCB is gearing up to reinforce its biotech activity through industry and academia collaboration. It is among the first plants in Belgium to produce cell-culture-based therapeutic proteins. The plant is a milestone in the development of new biological medicines and molecular development.
Luxembourg: Europe’s Solid Rock
“[Luxembourg has] a solid foundation to generate future economic diversification and growth,” says Dr. Thomas Dentzer, Head of Life Sciences Sector Development and Luxembourg BioHealth cluster manager. As the competitiveness of a country is more and more dependent on effective innovation networks involving private and public sectors, Luxembourg has implemented various initiatives in order to strengthen the research and development and innovation potential of companies and to reinforce links with public research organizations and academia.
“The Luxembourg Cluster Initiative, launched by the Luxembourg government, actively encourages networking between the private and the public sectors,” explains Dentzer. Healthcare and biotechnology are among the key technologies that have been identified as being important for the future sustainable development of the Luxembourg economy. Luxembourg’s research and development and innovation policy brings together biotech with other networks, such as eco-innovation-technologies or IT.
The Luxembourg BioHealth Cluster brings together public and private stakeholders whose activities are related to health science and technologies in Luxembourg. “It aims to foster partnerships and collaborations that favor innovative projects, thereby reinforcing and capitalizing on the national strategy developed to achieve scientific excellence in molecular medicine,” says Dentzer.
Luxembourg is strong in biomedical research. “The trends in Luxembourg, also due to the focus on personalized medicine, are going in the direction of computational biology and bioinformatics, using the latest IT-solutions to investigate complex processes,” adds Dentzer. The medical field is taking advantage of Luxembourg’s IT infrastructure and its expertise in data security.
Among the most important research facilities in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg are the Integrated BioBank of Luxembourg (IBBL), the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) and, most recently, the House of Biohealth, a new life science incubator.
The mission of IBBL is to work with the people of Luxembourg to provide high quality specimens and data, catalyze partnerships and support research. To accomplish its aims IBBL will, for example, support the four priority research programs in the personalized medicine initiative (cancer, type 2 diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and normal population cohort). The LCSB, by contrast, is accelerating biomedical research by closing the link between systems biology and medical research. Neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease, metabolomics and disease network analysis are in the focus of LCSB’s research.
Luxembourg’s most recent research facility is the House of Biohealth. The construction of the new life sciences incubator was officially launched in November 2012 by the Secretary of Economy and Foreign Trade, Etienne Schneider. It aims to facilitate the transformation of research results into marketable products and services, and it is expected to receive its first tenants in the beginning of 2014. It will be built in the vicinity of the future city of sciences in Esch-Belval. Dentzer says: “This unique facility will offer office space as well as laboratories providing the necessary infrastructure for the creation and development of start-ups as well as already established companies in the fields of biotech, cleantech and ICT.” Within 10,000 square meters of laboratory space, the building is expected to host 500 to 700 researchers.
The building is a joint project of the Luxembourg Ministry of Economy and Foreign Trade, the ZARE Park for economic activities in Esch-sur-Alzette and private investors.
The Luxembourg government has developed financial aids for companies involved in research and development. The Ministry of Economy and Foreign Trade, for example, targets small enterprises or small private research organizations established in Luxembourg which were created less than six years before the aid is granted and which either will, in the foreseeable future, develop new products, processes or services, which involve a significant risk of technical or industrial failure or which have used at least 15 percent of their operating expenses for research and development over the least one of the three years preceding the granting of the aid, or over the current year. All of the enterprise’s expenses are eligible. This aid can only be awarded once and it cannot exceed one million Euros. Financial aids for new innovative businesses are, for example start-up loans or equipment loans offered by the Société Nationale de Crédit et d’Investissement. To support intellectual property rights, Luxembourg offers an 80 percent tax exemption to income from patents, trademarks, design, models and software copyrights or domain names. Capital gains generated on intellectual property will be exempt up to 80 percent. Plus, in 2009, net wealth tax was abolished on qualifying intellectual property.
Biotech company WaferGen Biosystems, Inc. set up its European headquarters in Luxembourg in 2010. The Luxembourg government provided the company with significant support towards increasing its research and development activities and raising its profile in Europe. WaferGen is working in partnership with the Integrated Biobank of Luxembourg and maintains offices in the business incubator Luxembourg Technoport. WaferGen is an emerging leader in the development, manufacture, and sale of state-of-the-art systems for genome analysis for the life science and pharmaceutical industries.
Another company that installed its European Headquarter in Luxembourg is Neo Medical Systems. The company collaborates with Luxinnovation and the BioHealth cluster. Founder Francois Scalais submitted a business plan to the 1,2,3,GO programme, which selected the company as a laureate in the 2012 round. With a prototype of a system that provides 3D laparoscopic images in operating rooms, Neo Medical Systems is currently preparing to participate in the Seed4Start initiative to bring in additional financing. Scalais explains: “Luxembourg is great for us.”
Austria: Connecting East And West
The total revenue in biotech in Austria accounts for approximately 3 billion Euros. The vast majority is generated by only 36 large companies like Boehringer Ingelheim, Sandoz or Sanochemia that have 5,800 employees. In 2010, the research strength of these companies was as high as 107 percent. Innovation hubs are in Tirol, Upper Austria and Styria. The most important innovation hub for biotech, however, is Austria’s capital region, Vienna. Every second biotech company in Austria is based in Vienna.
TOP THREE LIFE SCIENCE CLUSTERS IN AUSTRIA
- LISAvienna – Life Science Austria Vienna: the Vienna-based Cluster connects more than 400 companies with 22 research facilities. 99 of the companies are core biotech companies. Among others, corporations like Boehringer Ingelheim, Ottobock and Baxter engage themselves in the cluster. 9,000 scientists work in the cluster. Together, their total revenue in 2010 was 1.7 billion Euros.
- Life Sciences Tirol: 62 companies with more than 23,000 employees form a network in the West of Austria through the cluster Life Sciences Tirol. Three universities and other research facilities are also involved, among them the Institute for Biomedical Aging Research in Innsbruck or the competence center Oncotyrol.
- Human.Technology.Styria GmbH: Biotech in Styria focuses on white biotechnology. Approximately 80 organizations work on three competence areas: pharmaceutical process- and production technologies, biomedical sensor technologies and biomechanics as well as biomarker technologies. Approximately 10,000 people are employed here. The total revenue is two billion Euros.
(Source: Invest in Austria)
The cluster LISAvienna connects more than 400 companies, 99 of which are core biotech companies, and 22 research facilities. 9,000 life scientists work in Vienna.
Austria is known for its research funding. In 2011, Austria raised the research rate/premium from eight to 10 percent for expenses in research and development. Companies that invest in innovation get the premium in cash.
“Two national funding agencies, AWS and FFG, fund pre-seed formations of companies with 200,000 Euros”, says Susanne Locker. She is a project manager in the LISAvienna cluster management. “AWS and FFG fund young high-tech-start-ups with one million Euro seed-financing.” The research funding company FFG supports innovative projects financially.
One central funding initiative is the Competence Center for Excellent Technologies (COMET). It aims to strengthen cooperation between industry and academia. During its run duration from 2006 to 2019, 1.5 billion Euros will be invested in industry-oriented research; a great part of this will go to life sciences.
One of Austria’s focus areas is cancer research. The competence center Oncotyrol in Innsbruck has a research volume of 37.5 million Euros until 2015. In 2012, the EU-project OPTATO was started to develop new strategies against an incurable bone marrow tumor. It has a research volume of four million Euros.
Also, the institute of molecular pathology (IMP) that is based at the Campus Vienna Biocenter, enjoys an excellent reputation. More than 200 researchers from all over the world work here. Boehringer Ingelheim invests more than 160 million Euros per year for cancer research in Vienna.
Among the most important research facilities next to IMP and Oncotyrol are the Austrian Institute of Technology (AIT), the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria), the Austrian Center for Industrial Biotechnology (acib) and the Research Center Pharmaceutical Engineering (RCPE) in Graz.
The RCPE was founded in 2008 in the context of the funding program COMET. RCPE’s CEO Johannes Khinast says: “With our special research focus, corporations like Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Roche, Novartis, sanofi-aventis, Bayer, AstraZeneca, Abbott or Merck like to partner with us. We work together with 10 renowned research facilities. There are only two comparable non-university research institutes in the world.”
In 2012, pharma-giant Baxter announced it will build a 30 million Euros production facility in Vienna. The company is planning to launch the operating site at the end of 2014. In 2011, Baxter invested approximately 47 million Euros in production sites in Austria. In 2012, the pharmaceutical corporation invested 100 million Euros. In total, the company employs 4,100 people in Austria. Baxter employs 900 people in Vienna and Orth in the field of research and development. Three out of four scientists who work for Baxter around the globe are thus based in Austria. The country is Baxter’s largest site in the world.
In 2012, Austria’s investment agency ABA was able to attract 201 foreign companies across all sectors to start their business or relocate to Austria. They invested 282.4 million Euros. 2,385 new jobs were created, which is an increase of 31 percent, compared to 2011.
One of 11 life science companies that invested in Austria in 2012 is biolitec AG. The German company develops medical laser systems and fiber optics. Biolitec CEO Dr. Wolfgang Neuberger says: “The infrastructure, funding options and flexible group taxation were crucial for our decision to relocate our headquarters to Vienna.”
Texas Biotech Out Of The Labs, Into The Market
In the U.S., the race is on to move promising biotech initiatives out of labs and into commercial production.
In the Lone Star State, a University of Texas spinoff company has pulled in $2 million to test a new technique for culturing non-embryonic stem cells. According to a regulatory filing, StemBioSys raised at least $2 million of a $3.5 million equity offering. CEO Dr. Steven Davis told the San Antonio Business Journal late last year (when the company began raising the round) that it would fund research projects to validate the quality of the stem cells generated by the company’s technology.
StemBioSys is developing XC-marrow ECM, a propriety three-dimensional culture for growing mesenchymal stem cells from bone marrow, adipose tissue and umbilical cord blood. These immature cells have multiple potential uses in research and therapeutics because they can self-renew and mature into a variety of cell types. Stem cell therapies are being studied as a repair mechanism for tissues all over the body, from the heart to the brain to the knees.
The company says its three-dimensional extracellular matrix can grow cells quicker than conventional media while retaining stem cell properties and may help overcome key obstacles in creating stem cell therapies. The technology was developed by Dr. Xiao-Dong Chen, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center and the company’s chief scientific officer, and licensed from UT.
Although it’s only available for research purposes now, this kind of technology could have therapeutic applications down the line. “If this research transfers successfully to clinical application in humans, we could establish personal stem cell banks,” Chen said. “We would collect a small number of older stem cells from patients, put those into our young microenvironment to rescue them–increasing their number and quality–then deliver them back into the patient.”
The company has struck a deal with GenCure, an affiliate of the nonprofit South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, to receive mononuclear cells from clinical grade umbilical-cord blood that it uses for R&D purposes. It was founded in 2010 in San Antonio, Texas and has received previous funding from the Texas Technology Development Center’s McDermott Pre-Seed Fund.
Currently, there are more than 160 Austin-area companies with over 8,200 employees operating in the areas of Biotech, Diagnostics, Medical Device, CRO/IRB, Pharma, Biosecurity and Agribio, among others. Texas is one of the leading biotech states in the country, with 3,400 companies and an estimated economic impact of $75 billion.
As relatively young industries in Austin, life science and biotechnology companies enjoy unique successes, with strong growth projected in the areas of biologics/biotech and medical device/diagnostics. Here’s a breakdown of the leading sectors:
- Medical device/diagnostics (40 percent)
- Biologics/biotech (20 percent)
- Contract Research Organizations (20 percent)
- Pharmaceuticals (10 percent)
- Other (11 percent)
Molecular Biotech Center Opens In Salt Lake City
The University of Utah has developed a well-deserved reputation for its research and business innovation, a reputation now enhanced by a new high-tech facility that could promises a financial return as well.
Leaders from the Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative in 2012 dedicated the James L. Sorenson Molecular Biotechnology Building—a $130-million, 208,000-square-foot research facility where scientists, physicians and engineers will collaborate to create new advances in the biotech field.
“The technology that is developed here is going to be a multidisciplinary …cross-pollination of ideas,” said Dinesh Patel, chairman of the USTAR Governing Authority, as reported by KSL.com. Located midway between the engineering and medical areas of campus, the new research building will facilitate increased interaction among faculty and student researchers,
Up to three additional buildings are planned to expand the university’s biotech center.
Financial support for the facility came from $100 million in state bonding and the balance from private donations, including $15 million from the Sorenson Legacy Foundation and $1.25 million from Micron Technology. Construction of the project began in April 2009 and was completed in December 2011. Tenants started moving in last month.
According to the KSL.com report, researchers at the new facility will have the ability to perform “dry” nano (fabrication) for silicon chips, etc., as well as “wet” nano—for use in biomedical devices. The facility also boasts precision equipment, including a $3 million confocal microscope for florescent imaging of cellular processes. Nanofabrication is the design and manufacture of devices with dimensions measured in nanometers. One nanometer is a millionth of a millimeter—less than the diameter of a human hair. The process is of interest to computer engineers because it could open the door to super-high-density microprocessors and memory chips that could one day store a data bit in a single atom.
Since its inception in 2007, USTAR has helped produce more than 300 invention disclosures and patent filings, along with 44 start-up companies or industry partnerships, according to a program statement.
USTAR collaborates with the University of Utah and Utah State University to create world-class research teams in strategic innovation development areas. Highly regarded faculty members, supported by teams of top researchers, lead the teams.
The infrastructure and multidisciplinary nature of the new Sorenson Molecular Biotechnology Building and at the related facility at Utah State University will likely help draw bigger research grants to Utah.
“To successfully win big federal and industry grants takes more complex, collaborative teams of researchers,” Patel told KSL.com. “The physical and intellectual infrastructure this building represents has already helped the U. of U. win a $20 million advanced materials grant.”
The new facility houses the Brain Institute, Nano Institute of Utah and Department of Bioengineering, according to USTAR spokesman Michael O’Malley.
Thus far, the USTAR program has recruited 32 principle researchers to Utah from such prestigious institutions as Harvard, MIT and UCLA. As of Dec. 2011, the researchers have generated nearly $80 million in grants since 2007, with more than $81 million in research proposals pending.
NBAF Bio-Defense Lab Moves Forward In Manhattan, KS
In Kansas, state leaders are celebrating recent progress in the region’s largest biotech project: the National Bio- and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF), in Manhattan, KS.
The federal Department of Homeland Security signed a formal land transfer agreement with the state to move ahead with NBAF.
“While there is much more work to be done, signing of the land transfer agreement is a good step forward in securing the future health, wealth and security of our nation,” Gov. Sam Brownback said in a news release. “It demonstrates DHS’ continued commitment to completing the NBAF in Manhattan. Kansas stands ready to partner with DHS to move this important national security priority forward.”
DHS will acquire about 46 acres of land near the north end of Kansas State University for the lab. The transfer clears the way for construction to begin, and a groundbreaking later this year.
NBAF scientists will research animal and human diseases and develop cures and vaccines to counter them. According to the news release, DHS already has invested more than $125 million in the lab, which is expected to cost $650 million. The state has committed $105 million dollars of matching funds for the facility and $35 million dollars of research funding. The project is expected to have a $3.5 billion economic boon to the state in its first 20 years, including 757 construction jobs and 326 permanent positions.
NBAF researchers would study animal-related diseases—including foot-and-mouth disease, classical swine fever, African swine fever, Nipah virus, Japanese Encephalitis, Rift Valley fever and contagious bovine pleuropneuomonia—and develop vaccines and treatments. The facility would be run jointly by Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
“This was the next step we have all been waiting for and moves us further down the construction timeline,” said U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts. “We will continue to monitor each step in the process to ensure NBAF remains a top national security priority.”
VC Funds Flowing Into Florida Bio Initiatives
The bioscience industry in Florida is on the rise in terms of new companies and venture capital flowing into businesses, according to BioFlorida, an industry trade organization.
Venture funding for the industry in 2012, for example, rose 19 percent over 2011, to $103.5 million, according to a BioFlorida release. That was the best year for venture capital in the industry since 2007. Plus, the amount of deals rose from 15 in 2011 to 19 in 2012.
The amount of biotech start-up companies in the sector is growing, too. BioFlorida reports that tally is up 13.5 percent since the first quarter of 2012.
The statewide data comes from a University of Florida Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator report. “The new data is evidence of a strong, innovative and sustainable bioscience business climate here in Florida,” says David Day, assistant vice president of the University of Florida Office of Technology Licensing and the Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator.
“Not only is Florida experiencing growth in the number of biotechnology businesses, we are also seeing a continued increase in venture capital investments—demonstration of investor confidence in our biotechnology start-ups and breakthrough research,” Day added.
Naples-based biotechnology firm Kirax is planning a new high-rise headquarters. “My goal is to continue to expand Kirax in Naples,” said Edmundo Muniz, president and CEO of Kirax, which develops pharmaceuticals, in an interview with the Naples Daily News. “You will see a big tall building in Naples with the word ‘Kirax’ across the top.”
Southwest Florida is playing catch-up with other regions of the state in developing a biotech cluster. Of the 219 biotechnology companies based in Florida, seven of them are located in Southwest Florida, according to Florida BioDatabase. That puts the region sixth out of the state’s eight regions in terms of numbers of biotech companies, tied with Northeast Florida and behind the Panhandle and Central Florida, according to the database.
Florida experienced a biotech boom from 2006 through 2011, with the number of companies growing by 42 percent compared to just 5 percent nationwide, the university’s Florida BioPulse report shows. More than 10 percent of the nation’s biotech companies call Florida home.
The report gives much of the credit to then-Gov. Jeb Bush, who pushed a controversial $310 million incentive package through the state Legislature to lure the Scripps Research Institute to Palm Beach County, which threw in another $187 million for the first phase of construction.
The institute specializes in biomedical research. It opened in 2009. Scripps “opened up the dam” for biotech in Florida, said Patti Breedlove, associate director of UF’s Sid Martin Biotechnology Incubator.
“That was a pivotal moment,” she said. “People stopped laughing about the possibilities of biotech in Florida.”
Getting Southwest Florida a larger share of the biotechnology pie isn’t “on our radar now,” said Michael Wynn, co-chairman of The Partnership for Collier’s Future Economy, an arm of the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce.
He said he sees a “huge potential” for attracting biotechnology firms when the county is ready to redirect its focus there, citing the region’s quality of life and the plethora of CEOs that live here and whose connections with the biotech world could be tapped.
In Estero, Florida Gulf Coast University’s fledgling biotechnology program has graduated 40 students, and is setting its sights on creating a master’s and doctorate degree program, said Takashi Ueda, an associate professor of biology and the biotechnology program leader. A 241-acre research park, dubbed Innovation Hub, is planned to break ground at FGCU in early 2013 with a focus on renewable energy sources, including biotech.
Roche Breaks Ground On Indy Learning Center
Late last year, Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard joined Roche Diagnostics President and CEO Jack Phillips as well as other Roche executives and community leaders to break ground on the company’s new Learning and Development Center. The center is the first element of a $300 million site transformation investment that was announced in June 2012. The city of Indianapolis and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered Roche tax abatements, tax credits and training grants.
“Roche has been an important part of our life sciences heritage for nearly 50 years now, and this expansion signals an important commitment to the region,” said Ballard.
“Central Indiana has been our home since 1964 and we are here to stay,” said Jack Phillips, president and CEO of Roche Diagnostics, adding that the company’s history and growth in the region is due in part to the community’s outstanding workforce and partnerships with the state and city that have enhanced job creation.
The capital investments at Roche’s North American headquarters on the northeast side of Indianapolis will support the company’s growing diagnostics and diabetes care businesses. The new Learning and Development Center will host the training of more than 1,500 customers from across the nation each year.
“As a key piece of our North American Headquarters, the new Learning and Development Center will serve as a hub and gateway for worldwide operations,” said Phillips. “We felt that it was important for the building to reflect our global influence, right here in Indianapolis.”
Mississippi Medical Center Unveils New Research Hub
Construction of a new research building, which will include space for start-up biotechnology companies, is commencing this year at University of Mississippi Medical Center in Fondren. UMC leaders plan to spend $35 million initially on the eight-story shell of the Cancer and Biomedical Science Research Center and plan to finish the ground, first and second-floor interiors of the 220,000 square-foot building. That work should take about 18 months. Contractors would complete additional floors as funds become available. “We have very limited amounts of research space right now,” said Dr. John Hall, UMMC associate vice chancellor for research. “This building will help us recruit scientists, expand our research centers and institutes, and develop the Biotechnology Research Park at UMMC.”
Biotech company incubator space will occupy about 25,000 square feet on one floor. That will mark the first phase of a long-term plan to construct the Mississippi Biotechnology Research Park. The building also will house laboratory animal facilities and UMMC Cancer Institute labs. Hall said administrators will survey space needs of departments and research centers. UMMC leaders put plans on hold last year for a Mississippi Biotechnology Research Park project at the old farmers market when Congress swore off federally targeted funds, known as earmarks. The project already had received nearly $20 million in federal earmarks, and UMMC had taken ownership of the farmer’s market property, located at West Street and Woodrow Wilson Avenue. With little likelihood of further federal support, administrators opted to include biotech incubator space in the Cancer and Biomedical Science Research Center, which allowed use of the $20 million for the on-campus building.
Frederick County, MD: U.S. Biotech Research Hub
Frederick County, Maryland, is the prime location for bioscience companies to establish and continue their dynamic success in a global marketplace. Already home to more than 70 cutting edge bioscience companies, Frederick County has the second largest cluster of bioscience companies in Maryland.
In fact, Maryland is home to the highest concentration of federal biotech research facilities, anchored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Taken together, Maryland’s bioscience research complex is conservatively estimated to represent nearly $8 billion in research and development expenditures annually, third in total size only to California and New Jersey. The state also has a leadership position in academic R&D per capita, led by Johns Hopkins University, the top recipient of NIH funding in the U.S.
Frederick County’s burgeoning biotech cluster continues to expand exponentially. A good example is MedImmune, now part of AstraZeneca, which recently completed its $250-million, 337,000- square-foot Frederick Manufacturing Center, creating 200 new jobs and bringing total employment to 450. The Frederick facility will be one of the biggest bulk biotech manufacturing facilities in the country. The workforce at the $600-million facility is expected to double when the plant ramps up to full production. MedImmune also has expanded its headquarters complex in Gaithersburg, investing $200 million and increasing the lab staff to 600.
Qiagen, a Netherlands-based supplier of sample and assay technologies in the life sciences sector, expanded its North American headquarters and manufacturing center in Germantown. The $2-million, four-phase expansion is adding about 90 new jobs. Qiagen employs more than 3,500 globally, including nearly 700 across its three locations in Maryland at Germantown, Gaithersburg and Frederick.
Lonza Bioscience invested $26 million in an expansion of its cell production and office space in Walkersville, adding 80 employees bringing total employment to 480. Additionally, Life Technologies undertook a $5 million expansion of their life sciences manufacturing distribution center.
Many new and expanding bioscience companies choose Frederick County as their preferred business location for the following reasons:
- Business Friendly Environment
- No business personal property tax
- Competitive tax structure
- Fast Track permitting assistance
- Start-up companies benefit from a high-tech incubator at Frederick Innovative Technology Center
Recent bioscience expansions also include the Fort Detrick National Interagency Biodefense Campus; new laboratories and office for Interagency Biodefense R&D and new facilities at the SAIC-Frederick, Inc./National Cancer Institute.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is seeking to spur biotech development with his $100-million InvestMaryland program, which would provide tax credits to insurance companies so they could invest in technology companies, including biotech research facilities. The state also is well under way with its Bio 2020 plan to invest at least $1.3 billion in biotech across the decade. The 15-year-old Maryland Venture Fund, which makes direct investments in technology and life sciences early-stage companies, has invested $25 million and returned more than double that investment.
Under the Bio 2020 plan, the Maryland Biotechnology Center was established within the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development to coordinate a host of state, university and private sector initiatives to support biotechnology innovation and entrepreneurship in Maryland. The Center works closely with university technology transfer offices and commercialization programs such as the Maryland Technology Development Corporation (TEDCO) and the University of Maryland’s Maryland Industrial Partnerships (MIPS) program to foster and fund collaborative initiatives between bioscience enterprises, universities, and federal labs. In certain qualifying cases, the Center can supplement funding of industry-university and industry-federal labs research partnerships.
The Center has created a BioEntreprenuer Resources Program which assists entrepreneurs in leveraging available public and private capital. The Center also works closely with the University of Maryland School of Law’s Intellectual Property Legal Resource Center (MIPLRC). The MIPLRC provides free legal services on the subjects of business and intellectual property to start-up bioscience enterprises.
Higher-Ed Partnering For Progress In Minnesota
A biotechnology partnership has been initiated between Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) and the University of Minnesota. In addition to the transferability of the Biotechnology program in its entirety, the partnership ensures graduates of MCTC’s Biotechnology program with grade point averages of 3.5 or higher will be enrolled at the College of Biological Sciences at the University of Minnesota, one of the University’s most prestigious schools.
“Minnesota has earned its place in the medical device industry by nurturing scientists,” said LifeScience Alley President and CEO Dale Wahlstrom. “This partnership moves students between two strong academic programs to graduate studies or careers in Minnesota’s famed bioscience sector.”
The first cohort within the new biotechnology partnership includes seven MCTC students. MCTC’s Biotechnology faculty leader Rekha Ganaganur noted all seven of the students have undergraduate research or internship experiences and some have obtained jobs in the bioscience industry. She applauded the vision of Robert Elde, the dean of the University of Minnesota’s College of Biological Sciences. “Dean Elde knows Minnesotans want colleges to collaborate to enhance the biotechnology workforce of the future.” Ganaganur is grateful for the LifeScience Alley membership for serving on the MCTC advisory group which made the partnership possible.
Elde and Ganaganur pledged their programs to support students who start their academic careers at community colleges. MCTC program participants can consider themselves University students as they grow their academic careers. “The partnership is a positive example of a collaborative effort that will help ensure a pathway for students to the top scientific careers in our state,” said MCTC President Phil Davis. “I am extremely impressed with the caliber of students enrolled in our programs, and MCTC welcomes this as a way to encourage academic success.”
New Jersey New Incentives For On-The-Job Training
NJ Gov. Chris Christie Administration recently announced that financial hiring incentives are now available to employers through the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development (LWD) if they hire and train former pharmaceutical industry employees. Employers willing to hire displaced pharmaceutical workers may reduce the cost to train new employees under this new on-the-job training program, which will reimburse each employer up to 50 to 90 percent of a new hire’s salary for up to six months and a maximum of $14,000.
“As a former business owner, I fully understand the expense associated with training new employees. This is an opportunity for employers to bring on new staff and offset their training costs. This program benefits employers and employees and will help stimulate job growth here in New Jersey,” said Dept. of LWD Commissioner Harold J. Wirths.
New Jersey employers from all industries are eligible to participate in this program, which is commonly known as an On-the-Job-Training program, as long as the prospective new hires are among the former pharmaceutical industry workers covered under a National Emergency Grant first issued to the LWD by the U.S. Department of Labor in 2010.
The program is managed in collaboration with the state’s Life Sciences Talent Network at BioNJ. It is designed to help workers who were displaced from the pharmaceutical industry due to the economic downturn by providing job training and assistance in finding new employment. New Jersey applied for the grant to keep the state’s pharmaceutical talent in the state and maintain New Jersey’s economic competitiveness. The workers covered under the grant include those who were displaced from approved locations of Bristol-Myers Squibb, Hoffman-La Roche, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., and Pfizer companies.
Under the new On-the-Job Training component, employers will not incur any fees and LWD or the Life Sciences Talent Network staff will pre-screen applicants for eligibility or will assist in qualifying candidates prior to the actual hire. New Jersey also is paving the way for increased cooperation between the state’s bio-pharma industry and academia.
Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno recently announced the formation of a new Council on Innovation to advise the NJ Partnership for Action on how industry and academia can better work together to improve New Jersey’s economy and attract more federal funding. Creation of the Council is among 15 recommendations in a report released by New Jersey Policy Research Organization (NJPRO) and Innovation NJ. In addition, Lt. Governor Guadagno announced Secretary of Higher Education Rochelle Hendricks as the newest member of the NJ Partnership for Action. The report recommends policy changes that would create an “innovation ecosystem,” making it easier for industry and academia to collaborate on new ideas and inventions.
Other recommendations include cutting red tape by creating standard agreements governing intellectual property rights and collaboration between entities. Identifying areas of expertise within New Jersey’s colleges and universities that can form the basis for Centers of Excellence. Designation of a single center of excellence for a topic would provide guidance to interested parties searching for a research partner; having a chief administrator at each college and university who will serve as a one-stop shop coordinator for businesses to connect with university information and resources.
Secretary Hendricks emphasized the importance of aligning businesses and academic institutions to grow New Jersey’s economy, attract more federal funds and bring innovative products and ideas to market.
“We need to be efficient and effective to win the competition to market commercial ideas and products,” she said. “Many of our academic institutions are already doing ground-breaking research. With improved collaboration among state agencies, colleges and businesses, that research can be directly connected with the economy, helping our institutions continue to compete on a national and global scale.”
Kentucky Spreads Seed Capital To Bio Start-Ups
Kentucky is offering a host of programs geared to jumpstart biotech start-ups. Commonwealth Seed Capital, LLC (CSC) is an independent fund that makes debt or equity investments in early-stage Kentucky business entities to facilitate the commercialization of innovative ideas and technologies. Investments are typically made in these specified innovation areas: health and human development; information technology and communications; bioscience; environmental and energy technologies; and materials science and advanced manufacturing. CSC invests in companies that have a significant Kentucky presence, the prospect for substantial growth and the potential to generate an appropriate rate of return.
The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development also offers a matching funds program to facilitate biotech start-ups. The Cabinet will match, on a competitive basis, Phase 1 and Phase 2 federal Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) awards received by Kentucky high-tech small businesses and those willing to become Kentucky-based businesses.
This includes matching Phase 1 federal awards up to $150,000 to support the exploration of the technical merit or feasibility of an idea or technology. The program also provides up to $500,000 of federal Phase 2 awards, which support full-scale research and development.