Global Biotech Report Presents Upbeat Picture

There hasn’t been a lot of good economic news coming from Europe these days, but the continent is getting a much-needed boost from its growing biotech/pharma labs.


https://businessfacilities.com/2015/06/cover-story-global-biotech-report-2015/
There hasn’t been a lot of good economic news coming from Europe these days, but the continent is getting a much-needed boost from its growing biotech/pharma labs.
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Cover Story: Global Biotech Report 2015

Global Biotech Report Presents Upbeat Picture

By Stefanie Ramsperger
From the May/June 2015 issue

Europe is still mired in the economic doldrums, as the EU struggles to find a solution to its festering debt crisis, and growth across the continent is measured in fractions of a percentage point.

But if there’s a bright spot in this dark fiscal landscape, it’s pulsing from Europe’s biotech sector. The best example of the resiliency of the biotech/pharma industry across the pond can be found in Europe’s traditional economic engine, Germany—and in the heart of Germany’s capital region, Berlin.

There are 232 biotech companies, more than 30 research institutions and more than 130 clinics and hospitals that make the capital region a hot spot for the life sciences. Berlin claims to be the start-up capital of Germany, and, in fact, it provides good conditions for spin-offs and start-ups in the healthcare industry. The capital region Berlin-Brandenburg initiated a new “Healthcare Industries” master plan to develop the sector until 2018. The four pillars of the plan are basic research, innovation, spin-offs and application. Biotech, pharmaceuticals, medical technology and the healthcare industries are the focal areas.

So we’ll begin our annual Global Biotech Report in the burgeoning research hub of Berlin-Brandenburg. We’ll also fan out across Europe for an overview of the latest developments in Austria, the U.K., Belgium, other regions in Germany, as well as a birds-eye view of some biotech hotspots in the United States. All you need to do is put on your lab coats and protective goggles, and read on.

According to BioTOP Berlin-Brandenburg, a center within the health cluster, biotech development will feature the creation of new translation platforms in basic research, clinical research and industrial biotech.

Max Planck and Fraunhofer Research, the Helmholtz and Leibnitz Institutes are drivers of new technologies and products. Another focus area is the concentration on therapy development through new system medicine strategies. The Max Delbrueck Center for Molecular Medicine and Charité hospital in Berlin are supposed to be the “flagship of German biomedicine.”

Next to personalized medicine, regenerative medicine and the development of new cell therapies are in focus. The Berlin-Brandenburg Center for Regenerative Therapies (BCRT), biotech SMEs and pharmaceuticals, partners in the international Regenerative Medicine Coalition, are part of a new product development network. The region also plans to focus on the sustainable use of biological resources for medical applications in industrial biotech.

The 232 biotech companies in the region employed almost 5,000 people in 2013. Thus, the number of employees has grown by more than five percent compared to the previous year. According to the newest BioTOP survey, the number of companies has expanded by 10 against the year before. Precisely 14 companies have relocated or shut down their business, whereas 24 companies came to the region—18 of which are start-ups. In general, smaller companies dominate the capital region’s business landscape: 139 companies in the sector have fewer than 10 employees. Most of the small businesses focus on diagnostic products and biopharmaceutical services.

Berlin has 24 large research institutes and university departments that focus on the healthcare industry. The players include one of the largest university hospitals in Europe, the Charité; Europe’s largest clinical laboratory, Labor Berlin—Charité Vivantes; the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine; and the German Heart Institute Berlin. Non-university research institutions also have made Berlin their home. Among these institutions are four Max Planck Institutes, two Fraunhofer Institutes, two Leibniz Institutes and two Helmholtz Centers.

Berlin has eight technology parks providing customized services to biotech and life sciences companies. Every year, 3,000 students graduate in life science related disciplines in Berlin-Brandenburg, including 750 graduates in biotechnology fields. The universities, universities of applied sciences and academies offer over 90 degree programs as well as professional training in life sciences. In addition, the Max Delbrück Center founded the “Helmholtz International Research School in Translational Cardiovascular and Metabolic Medicine—TransCard.”

VIENNA: BIOTECH GROWTH MAGNET

Vienna has never been more attractive for international corporations: In 2014, the Austrian city attracted 159 new companies across all sectors. Thus, 2014 was even better than 2013 (133 new companies). The newcomers created 960 new jobs in Vienna and invested more than 244 million euros. Of the new companies, 42 came from neighboring Germany, 15 from Hungary, 11 from Russia and eight from the Ukraine.

LifeScience Vienna Muthgasse, above, is the most important biotech complex in Vienna; it includes the University of Natural Resources and the Austrian Institute of Technology. Biotech II (258,333 square feet) is under construction.
LifeScience Vienna Muthgasse, above, is the most important biotech complex in Vienna; it includes the University of Natural Resources and the Austrian Institute of Technology. Biotech II (258,333 square feet) is under construction. (Photo: LifeScience Vienna Muthgasse.)

Current numbers for the biotech sector will be released in the fall. At the moment, Vienna’s cluster initiative, LISAvienna, is collecting the latest facts and figures. According to the last Life Science Report, 378 life science companies are situated in Vienna with main activities in the biotech/pharma or medical technology sector. The tradition of the Vienna Medical School, for example, focuses on medical biotechnology with an emphasis on the areas of vaccinations, anti-infectives, immunology and oncology. A further focus is on medical technology, particularly in the areas of electromagnetic medical technology and software for medicine, telemedicine and e-health. In 2012, the 378 companies employed more than 21,000 people and generated more than nine billion euros in sales—18 of them were in the core field of biotechnology and medical technology. Today, the number has increased to over 180. They employed more than 10,000 people and generated a turnover of 2.8 billion euros in 2012. More than 13,000 employees currently work in the field of life sciences.

Vienna is home to approximately two thirds of all Austrian biotech companies. And almost half of the medical technology companies are based in the capital. While the majority of applied research is carried out directly within the companies, the basis for operational research is mainly the academic research. Twenty-five research institutes are located in Vienna. In addition, five universities, two applied universities, twelve non-university research institutes and six other organizations educate 38,000 life science students. Thus, every fifth student in Vienna studies in this field and potential employees are near. More than 35,000 people in Vienna are employed in the sector.

Premier life sciences facilities in the city of Vienna include:

  • Life Science Vienna Muthgasse: The location bundles university and research institutions such as the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences or the Austrian Institute of Technology with life sciences companies. BioTech II (units C and D, approx. 312,153 square feet) will continue the design concept of the first part (approx. 258,333 square feet). The further development of LifeScience Vienna Muthgasse into an international biotech center will be continued with the construction of White Space (274,479 square feet).
  • University of Veterinary Medicine: The animal hospital with its university clinics is an integrated component of the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna.
  • Medical University of Vienna: This academic institution is Austria’s leading healthcare services provider.
  • Campus Vienna Biocenter: One of the leading international biomedical research centers worldwide. It is home to several research laboratories, biotech companies and start-ups.
  • Vienna University of Technology: The TU provides, among others, expertise in bioanalytics and sensor development, biomechanics, biomedical engineering and chemical technologies.

MANCHESTER: INNOVATION HUB

Manchester’s history of innovation started at the time of the industrial revolution. Since then, the city has been a pioneer of medical and technological evolution: Think of the first hip replacement, the first test tube baby or the discovery of Graphene.

Today, the region attracts over 250 biotech companies. Home to four universities who have a strong track record working with industry on biotechnological projects, Manchester provides a climate where innovation can grow and prosper. It is connected to the world through its airport, via road, rail and sea.

The Atrium of the Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocenter at the University of Manchester is one of the leading biotech research hubs in the U.K.
The Atrium of the Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocenter at the University of Manchester is one of the leading biotech research hubs in the U.K. (Photo: MIBatrium.)

Manchester is a member of the European Super League of biomedical clusters. As the current European City of Science with the EuroScience Open Forum 2016 is approaching, Manchester offers not just low costs and international connectivity but also unique gateway organizations and support systems to help companies gain an important foothold in the National Health Service (NHS). With over 30 NHS organizations, Manchester has a significant proportion of the UK National Health Service market with a population of eleven million within a one-hour drive.

Tim Newns, CEO, MIDAS (Manchester’s inward investment agency), says, “The concept of highly connected urban science parks linked with academia, the NHS and excellent connectivity is enabling the city to gain recognition as a top location for biomedical companies around the world.” He continued, “Manchester is well placed to lead in this area with Europe’s largest clinical/academic campus located here. It is closely connected with a wide range of incubator and growth facilities ideal for all stages of a company’s life cycle.”

Manchester’s latest sites are 400-acre Alderley Park, Citylabs and Airport City and Medipark. According to Newns, Alderley Park is a “major asset” within the UK’s life science industry. Manchester Science Partnerships’ intention is to maintain and strengthen this position, working with health science partners across the North of England and beyond, and with the business community. Their goal is to create a collaborative community of bioscience innovators and businesses at every stage of growth.

Citylabs opened in the summer of 2014 and is Manchester’s newest center of biomedical excellence. Citylabs offers high-specification flexible office and laboratory space. The site is a flagship redevelopment of the former Royal Eye Hospital, sitting within Europe’s largest clinical and academic campus, into 94,000 square feet of bespoke-built biomedical facilities. Located on Oxford Road, the campus is made up of Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and The University of Manchester.

Airport City Enterprise Zone is located directly at the UK’s busiest airport outside of London. Medipark is an advanced health and biotech research park adjacent to one of Europe’s largest teaching hospitals and Manchester Airport. It offers over 500,000 square feet of office space, laboratories and manufacturing plants and will provide a home for high-value knowledge intensive life science and healthcare related businesses.

But Manchester has more to offer for biotech companies: Manchester Science Park has a reputation as one of the most successful and fastest growing locations of its kind.

The Core Technology Facility provides state-of-the-art “grow-on” and incubation space for biotechnology and hi-tech start-ups or SMEs, to complement the existing Manchester Incubator Building. Its aim is to increase the number of fast growing biotech, hi-tech and low carbon companies in the Northwest region. The four-story CTF complements the existing incubator facility by providing additional turnkey laboratory modules, flexi-lab areas for “grow-on”, meeting rooms and conferencing facilities.

Manchester aims to achieve academic excellence in order to be able to provide a strong-skilled talent pool for biotech companies in the area. For example, the University of Manchester offers more than 400 degree programs to almost 40,000 students. The University attracts high caliber researchers, boasting 25 Nobel Prize winners among current staff and students. It is led by the President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell FRS, whose research has advanced understanding and treatment of brain damage in strokes and head injuries.

Manchester Metropolitan University has 37,000 students. The University’s School of Healthcare Science is home to the Institute for Biomedical Research into Human Movement and Health (IRM). The University of Bolton has a student body of around 11,000. The University houses the Institute for Material Research and Innovation (IMRI).

The University of Manchester has partnered with Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust and Salford Clinical Commissioning Group to form Northwest Ehealth (NWEH). This non-for-profit partnership develops software that unlocks the value of health and care data for the benefit of patients.

In 2014, Allscripts set up their European Headquarters in Manchester. The American based company offers an open, integrated portfolio of healthcare IT solutions for hospitals, physician practices and extended care organizations.

The Austrian based Miracor Medical Systems GmbH also has set up a site in Manchester. The company is dedicated to improving clinical outcomes of patients with impaired cardiac function.

Manchester also welcomed Sciformix Corporation. It is a leading Scientific Process Organization (SPO), providing scientific knowledge-based services to biopharmaceutical, generic pharmaceutical, consumer product, medical device, contract research and healthcare companies. Among other recent arrivals in Manchester are Nexcelom, that offers a wide range of Cellometer systems, and Hematogenix, that focuses on molecular based tests.

HESSEN: CENTER OF ACTIVITY

Hessen is located in the center of Germany and within 2.5 hours of every economic hub in Europe. Frankfurt, Hessen’s biggest city, is a global financial center and also a logistics hub. Hessen has seven universities, 13 schools of applied sciences, 15 other schools, one Helmholtz institution, five Max-Planck centers, eight Fraunhofer research centers, four Gottfried-Wilhelm-Leibniz-research institutions and 29 other research centers.

The University of Applied Sciences in Darmstadt, Giessen and Frankfurt focus on biotech and process engineering. The Technical University of Darmstadt and the Goethe University in Frankfurt offer a joint Master’s course in Molecular biotech. The Justus Liebig University in Giessen offers classes in food chemistry and also is a focal point of a state initiative for the development of scientific and economic excellence in biotech. The Philipps University in Marburg sticks out for its competence in Terrestrial Microbiology and the Karl Winnacker Institute of Dechema in Frankfurt is leading in the field of bioprocess engineering.

In recent years, biotech activities in Hessen have clustered around the industrial parks in Frankfurt, Offenbach, Wiesbaden, Griesheim and Hanau and investments have increased steadily, particularly those of companies located at Hoechst Industrial Park in Frankfurt. It is one of Europe’s largest chemical and pharmaceutical parks and looks back to 150 years of chemistry tradition. More than 20,000 employees work on the 1,136-acre site. It hosts approximately 100 companies; among them are Sanofi-Aventis, Clariant and Celanese. Sanofi invested six million Euros in a new cell culture site in Frankfurt in 2014. Production will start this year. Investments in 2014 amounted to 370 million Euros in Hoechst Industrial Park. Thus, since 2000, the investments at Hoechst amount to approximately 6.3 mrd Euros.

Hoechst Industrial Park in Hessen, pictured above, is one of Europe’s largest chemical and pharmaceutical parks, where more than 20,000 employees work for more than 100 major companies, including Sanofi-Aventis.
Hoechst Industrial Park in Hessen, pictured above, is one of Europe’s largest chemical and pharmaceutical parks, where more than 20,000 employees work for more than 100 major companies, including Sanofi-Aventis. (Photo: Christine Kloos, Bildservice/Sanofi.)

Other pharma giants in Hessen are Merck, located in Darmstadt, Novartis in Marburg and Heraeus in Hanau. Heraeus currently is investing in a new innovation center in Hanau. Rolf Najork, CEO of Heraeus, explains, “The innovation center shall consolidate our research and development activities at the site. It will create the perfect surrounding to work on the products of tomorrow in an interdisciplinary and future-oriented surrounding. We will support the communication and teamwork between the various development groups within the company. Laboratories and competence centers that will be used by all units will contribute to this goal.”

More than 300 life science companies are located in the Rhine-Mine-region, 90 of them are core biotech companies. Hessen has a focus on personalized medicine: Medium sized companies like Biologis, Humatrix or R-Biopharm work on individual solutions and therapies for patients. Ci3, the Rhine-Main-cluster for individual immunintervention, aims to bundle the expertise of academic institutions and companies.

More than 100 researchers of Philipps-University in Marburg and of Max-Planck-institute for microbiology in Marburg work together in a group known as Synmikro. Only four years after Synmikro’s foundation, it is one of the world’s largest centers for synthetic-microbiological research.

On the various sites of the traditional life sciences companies in Hessen, industrial parks have been formed that are densely connected with academic expertise from the surrounding universities. Important for biotech companies also is the Frankfurt innovation center biotech (FIZ). The third stage of construction began in 2014.

For all these reasons, Hessen claims to be ideal for investors in the life sciences. Dr. Rainer Waldschidt, CEO of Hessen Trade & Invest GmbH, explains in the latest issue of Hessen-Biotech NEWS, “The infrastructure, the central location in Germany and Europe as well as the international flair are major arguments for the business location Hessen.” He continues, “We have an excellent research landscape, qualified workforce and a high living quality.”

Among Hessen’s top investments in the life sciences in 2014 were: Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics GmbH, a subsidiary of the Swiss Novartis AG. They opened a new production site for vaccines in Marburg. Novartis invested approximately 240 million Euros. The new buildings on a 17.79-acre area offer approx. 401,493 square feet of floor space. Novartis plans to employ 400 people on site. When the site opened in March 2014, Jochen Reutter, director of the Marburg site and CEO of Novartic Vaccines, explained: “The new production site is one of the largest investments in the hessian pharma industry.”

Dymax Europe GmbH, a subsidiary of US-based Dymax Corp, opened a new research laboratory at their European headquarters in Wiesbaden in July 2014. Dymax was located in Frankfurt until 2011 when it moved to the Wiesbaden industrial park Kalle-Albert. Stefan Katzenmayer, CEO of Dymax Europe GmbH, said, “After we moved the head office to Wiesbaden, opening a new research and development laboratory is the next step for further growth in the region.” Production in Wiesbaden starts this year.

US-based pharma enterprise Pharm-Allergan moved into new buildings in Frankfurt in September 2014. According to CEO Enzo Cangiolini, the company chose Frankfurt due to its “excellent infrastructure“ and proximity to the airport, railway and autobahn.

BEVY OF BIOTECH REGIONS IN BAVARIA

Bavaria is home to multiple biotech regions, in which companies in the sector are concentrated. These include the biotech region Munich/Martinsried, as well as the bio-regions of Regensburg, Franconia and Straubing. So far, Bavaria is home to 207 biotech companies and to more than 330 companies in the life sciences sector; there is space for more.

The biotech sector in Bavaria focuses on developing new therapeutics and diagnostics. In order to make it as easy as possible for new biotech companies to enter the market, networks such as BioMed Würzburg, BioPark Regensburg GmbH and BioM in Munich provide individual support to integrate newcomers into the established network structures.

Many Bavarian universities, such as the LMU Munich, Technical University Munich and the Universities of Würzburg and Regensburg, display a high level of expertise in biotech. Biotech research, however, does not only take place at university level, but also in a series of renowned non-university research institutions such as the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Health and the Max Planck Institutes of Biochemistry, Neurobiology and Psychiatry. These work closely with biotech companies and the universities.

Most biotech companies in Bavaria work in the field of biopharmaceutical research and development and technology platforms. More than 80 work in the area of research to develop and produce new therapeutics and diagnostics.

The biotech sector is supported by large subsidiaries of several pharmaceutical companies. Roche Diagnostics at Penzberg employs more than 5,100 people, MSD Sharp & Dohme has more than 1,000 employees and AMGEN in Regensburg and Munich provides more than 300 jobs, just to name a few. Core biotech companies also have subsidiaries in the region, for example Actavis, Biogen Idec, Celgene, Myriad Genetics and Vertex.

Biotech centers in Bavaria include:

  • Medical Valley: Erlangen-Nuremberg is an internationally leading location for medical technology.
  • Munich Biotech Cluster m4: With more than 270 life science companies, universities and research institutions, Munich is one of Europe’s hot spots for research and innovation. The cluster has a focus on personalized medicine.
  • IZB Martinsried and Freising: The innovation and start-up center for biotech in Planegg-Martinsried, focusing on medical biotech, and Freising-Weihenstephan, focusing on bio, agricultural and nutritional sciences, offers young biotech start-ups approx. 269,097 square feet of optimal building infrastructure for biotech.
  • IZB Wuerzburg: This innovation and start-up center is located close to Julius-Maximilians-University and has developed a comprehensive program for promoting start-up activities.
  • BioPark Regensburg: The cluster management organization operates on the grounds of the University of Regensburg, offering approx. 193,750 square feet of laboratories and offices.
  • BioCampus Straubing: Located 86 miles north of Munich, it focuses on industrial biotech.

Biotech companies in Bavaria employed 11,000 people in 2013, which is a slight increase by one percent compared to the previous year. Since 2009, however, the biotech industry grew by 13 percent. Taken together the pharmaceutical and biotech industry in Bavaria, employed a total of 26,500 people in 2013, a two percent increase over 2012.

Even more jobs can be expected. In 2014, for example, 4SC Discovery entered into a cooperation with the university clinic Heidelberg and will receive 1.3 million Euros for research and development of an anti-malaria agent. MorphoSys and the Moulder Center for Drug Discovery Research have formed a strategic alliance focused on the discovery of new therapeutic antibodies. Activaero was acquired by Vectura Group for a total of 130 million Euros. Activaero’s research and development will be continued in Munich and Wuerzburg.

One major investment was Roche’s 480 million Euro invest in the development of their production plant in Penzberg. 200 million Euros were invested in a newly built production unit for diagnostics, thereby creating 50 new jobs. Another 280 million Euro will increase manufacturing capacity, creating 200 new jobs.

BELGIUM HAS THREE LANGUAGES AND THREE REGIONS

Three languages, three regions: Belgium is divided into the Flemish, Walloon and Brussels-Capital Region. While the Flemish community speaks Dutch, the Wallonia-Brussels Federation speaks French and German. It is a central location with international flair.

The Brussels capital region does not even cover one percent of the country’s territory, but has a young and strong biotech tradition. Most of Brussels biotech companies work in the field of medical biotech. The Brussels LifeTech Cluster gathers partners in biotech, pharma and medical technology with the aim to encourage partnerships and synergies between the players.

With a strong academic background— the region offers three universities and five university hospitals—the region provides an innovative climate for biotech companies. The Université Libre de Bruxelles, Université catholique de Louvain and Vrije Universiteit Brussel, the Meurice Institute and the five University hospitals employ almost 3,000 researchers in life science.

In 2014 the LifeTech Cluster accompanied 185 companies in the field of health, leading to eight new companies in the Brussels region. The cluster also supported 65 companies in their development strategy.

The cluster launched initiatives such as the Health 2.0 Belgium initiative in June 2014, with the goal to develop the eHealth community. So far, the project brought together almost 100 participants. Future focus areas of the cluster are eHealth and the aging population.

To help start-ups, the Brussels region has initiated incubation infrastructures. The Brussels Life Science Incubator is located on the UCS site and offers lab space, offices and logistic facilities to young companies. Another bio-incubator is Eurobiotec Brussels. Located in the Erasmus Industrial Zone in the capital, the center is involved in the industrial activities of white and red biotech. The Erasmus European Business and Innovation Center offers more than 64,583 square feet of offices, laboratories and administrative infrastructure. Solvay Research and Technology Center also offers research and development opportunities for start-ups.

Situated in the north of Brussels is Flanders. The region surfaces 2,316 square miles and has approximately six million inhabitants. Located in the heart of Europe, its logistic and business infrastructure is excellent. Together, Flanders and Brussels house more than 150 companies with biotech activities. Over 13,000 employees are active in the field of life sciences. About 50 companies are related to healthcare (from diagnostics to therapeutics), 46 are active in the biobased economy (focus on sustainable agriculture) and 50 companies are life science providers.

In total, the life science hubs near the five main universities house most biotech companies on 13 research parks and 14 incubators, research institutes, academic hospitals and clinical research organizations. According to Flanders cluster FlandersBio, Biotech companies have access to more than 538,195 square feet of flexible infrastructure.

Johan Cardoen, CEO of CropDesign, and Patrick Van Beneden, Executive Vice-President Life Sciences, Gimv, once stated their conviction that the region is perfect for their companies. Cardoen said: “Flanders is the world’s most significant cluster in the area of agricultural biotechnology. There are almost no corporate failures to report among fledgling Flemish life sciences companies. The percentage of successful start-ups is very high.”

BIO BOOM CONTINUES IN MARYLAND

AstraZeneca recently became the latest biotechnology company to expand its manufacturing operations in Maryland when the British drug maker announced plans to enlarge a production facility and add 300 workers in Frederick. The $200 million project adds to the state’s leading position as a hub for life science companies interested in manufacturing and distributing the drugs their researchers develop, meeting the requirements for federally regulated facilities and a specially trained workforce.

Manufacturing jobs made up 28 percent of bioscience jobs in Maryland in 2013, excluding health care and federal research jobs, according to data collected by the state’s Department of Business and Economic Development.

State data show a total of 9,471 bioscience manufacturing jobs that year, an increase of 21.8 percent from 7,779 manufacturing jobs recorded a decade earlier. Because of changes over the years in the way jobs are categorized, the total increase may vary slightly.

An expansion also is underway at MedImmune, the Gaithersburg, Md.-based company that AstraZeneca acquired in 2007 for $15.6 billion. This expansion will enable MedImmune’s manufacturing operations easy access to nearby research labs. This proximity is critical because the industry players are striving to speed up the time between development in the lab and commercialization of products.

Rockville-based Emergent Biosolutions employs 180 workers at two Baltimore manufacturing facilities where the company makes vaccines for infectious diseases as well as medications that have been created by other companies.

The company spent about $50 million renovating one of those facilities, which it acquired in 2009, and plans to double its size from 55,000 to 110,000 square feet. Emergent also has manufacturing facilities in Michigan and Canada.

In Germantown, the biotech company Qiagen continues to grow. About 35 percent of the company’s products, by value, currently are manufactured in the state, a percentage that is expected to rise.

The Accelerating Medicines Partnership (AMP) is a public-private partnership between the Bethesda, MD-based National Institutes of Health (NIH), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 10 biopharmaceutical companies and multiple non-profit organizations to transform the current model for developing new diagnostics and treatments by jointly identifying and validating promising biological targets for therapeutics. The goal is to increase the number of new diagnostics and therapies for patients and reduce the time and cost of developing them.

For each project, scientists from NIH and industry developed research plans aimed at characterizing effective molecular indicators of disease, called biomarkers, and distinguishing biological targets most likely to respond to new therapies.

Through this cross-sector partnership, managed through the Foundation for the NIH (FNIH), NIH and industry partners are sharing expertise and resources—over $230 million—in an integrated governance structure that enables the best informed contributions to science from all participants. A critical component of the partnership is that all partners have agreed to make the AMP data and analyses publicly accessible to the broad biomedical community.

UNIVERSITY RESEARCH PARK: BIOTECH HUB IN MADISON, WI

University Research Park in Madison, WI contributes nearly $1 billion to Wisconsin’s economy each year. The park supports nearly 10,000 jobs statewide, and generates about $50 million in state and local tax revenue each year.

The research and technology park, which stretches across 351 acres on Madison’s west side, is home to more than 126 companies, most of which were founded on discoveries made at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The average salary of the roughly 3,800 employees in the park is $64,310, significantly higher than the state and county average annual wages. More than $132 million of the payroll spending in the park stays in Dane County, after federal tax deductions and other non-local spending is taken into account.

URP companies spend more than $200 million each year on Wisconsin goods and services. This spending has directly supported the creation of more than 2,500 jobs at Wisconsin firms that supply those goods and services. Spending by park employees also has a significant impact on the state’s economy, supporting the creation of another 1,200 jobs. For every job created by a URP company, another job is created elsewhere as a result.

Located at Mineral Point Road and Whitney Way, URP focuses on early-stage and growth-oriented businesses. Most of the businesses in the research park are in the engineering, computer and life sciences sectors. However, the research park hosts a wide variety of tenants, including Exact Sciences, Ultratec and First Business Bank.

The Hammes Co. and Majestic Realty recently announced that they have submitted a proposal to the City of Madison for the Judge Doyle Square project that brings together world-class architecture in a mixed-use setting and could relocate Exact Sciences to downtown Madison. The project also would strengthen Monona Terrace and the downtown as compelling destinations, and bring $125 million in private investment from the real estate developer for the 1,000,000-square-foot project. Exact Sciences would occupy 250,000 square feet as the anchor tenant.

The proposal was developed in partnership with Exact Sciences, one of Dane County’s fastest growing employers. Ground could be broken for the project as early as December 2015.

“Our proposal offers a rare chance to relocate a company’s corporate headquarters to the center of our downtown,” said Bob Dunn, president of the Hammes Co. “We are working closely with Exact Sciences to develop these facilities in the Madison area. Our strong preference is to locate them as the anchor of the Judge Doyle Square development.”

Exact Sciences reportedly is considering the Judge Doyle Square mixed-use project (rendering above) as a potential downtown Madison location for its corporate headquarters. The 1 million-square-foot project will include a new hotel.
Exact Sciences reportedly is considering the Judge Doyle Square mixed-use project (rendering above) as a potential downtown Madison location for its corporate headquarters. The 1 million-square-foot project will include a new hotel. (Photo: exactsciences.com.)

It is believed that the last time a major employer like Exact Sciences brought its corporate headquarters downtown was in 1975, when Verex moved to its new headquarters on Lake Mendota. In addition to the potential for Exact Sciences to lead the facility as the anchor tenant, the project includes an urban hotel, entertainment establishments, terraced gathering areas on Pinckney Street, a public food hall, health and wellness facilities and other amenities.

“Welcoming an innovative tech company like Exact Sciences and bringing hundreds of highly-skilled workers downtown is an enormous opportunity for the City of Madison,” said Kevin Conroy, chairman and CEO of Exact Sciences. “This partnership is a chance to invigorate an underdeveloped corner of the city, grow Madison’s tax base and help Exact Sciences attract top talent as we continue expanding.”

The proposed urban hotel complements the other mixed-use components of the project at street level. These components are crafted to create a new enhanced experience for guests of downtown, the hotel and Monona Terrace. The hotel’s room inventory will enhance the competitive position of Monona Terrace in attracting large events.

“We have created an exciting plan for Judge Doyle Square,” Mr. Dunn said. “It brings together a combination of uses that will strengthen our downtown and activate Judge Doyle Square 365 days a year. One of our most important objectives has been to assemble the amenities that strengthen Monona Terrace and the city as a destination. As a result, we believe the economic and fiscal impact on the city of Madison exceeds other proposals that have been presented for Judge Doyle Square.”

A conference center with multipurpose meeting and function space is incorporated in the project to support Exact Sciences offices and can be scheduled for use by the hotel and Monona Terrace.

AG BIOTECH SHOWCASE IN NC

Ag biotech specialists from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center came together recently at NCBiotech’s third annual Ag Biotech Entrepreneurial Showcase. Up to 135 movers and shakers from the expanding world of agricultural biotechnology shared ideas at the annual gathering.

The agenda included speeches, a panel discussion and pitches from nine agricultural companies—mostly biotechnology start-ups from North Carolina and five other states. The attendees came from as far away as Portugal and Israel, and from around the U.S.: California, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Kentucky and Georgia.

Sponsors of the event awarded cash prizes to the top two company pitches. The $10,000 top prize winner was SynShark, of Cornelius, NC and College Station, TX. SynShark Executive Director Jason Ornstein flew in from his home in London to explain to potential investors how the company is developing a sustainable way to produce squalene, a substance currently harvested from shark livers for use in the pharmaceutical and cosmetics markets. The company is developing a way to produce a synthetic squalene in tobacco plants, easing the catch pressure on sharks.

ConidioTec, based in State College, PA, won the $2,500 second-place award. The company is developing Aprehend, a new biopesticide for control and prevention of bedbugs. The product uses Beauveria bassiana, a fungus that is natural and harmless to humans and has previously been used to control horticultural and agricultural pests. ConidioTec’s patent-pending technology enables both prevention and complete eradication of bedbugs after a single application.

Representatives from the Israel-United States Binational Industrial Research & Development Foundation (BIRD) attended the Ag Biotech Entrepreneurial Showcase. The Foundation is an endowment set up 40 years ago to stimulate industrial R&D for the mutual benefit of the U.S. and Israel. It provides about $25 million per year in non-diluting grants. One such investment was a joint research effort by Durham, NC-based Precision Biosciences and Israel’s Danziger Innovations Ltd.

Two other Durham, NC biotech concerns showcased recent breakthroughs. AgBiome is discovering and developing traits and biologicals for growers, with a history of product discovery and commercialization of its technology via partnerships with established industry brands, and will approach cash neutral in late 2015. In the first 19 months of lab operations the company has sequenced over 24,000 novel bacterial strains, and discovered more than 800 potential insect-control genes.

Edison Agrosciences, also of Durham, is using biotechnology to enable production of natural rubber in sunflowers. Natural rubber is essential for the manufacture of thousands of products including tires, and cannot be replaced with synthetics. Increasing demand will result in a shortfall of 25 percent by 2020. But current production methods and crops are economically and environmentally unsustainable.

Enzerna Biosciences, of Chapel Hill, NC is developing technologies to create sequence-specific RNA processing enzymes for any target of choice.

Tyton BioEnergy Systems, of Danville, VA, is using a specialized tobacco technology platform to produce a variety of chemical building blocks for biofuels and other industrial and agricultural products. Tyton’s patented non-smoking tobacco outperforms corn, soy and other cellulosic feedstocks. The company will be restarting the former Clean Burn Fuels biorefinery in the Hoke County community of Raeford, NC, this summer. It’s part of a strategy to make ethanol from its proprietary strain of regionally grown tobacco. That operation is expected to generate 79 jobs as Tyton BioEnergy invests $36 million through 2017 in Hoke, Wake and other surrounding counties.

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