Early this week, the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology kicked off a major expansion project at its biotech campus, positioning the Huntsville, AL facility for new scientific advances. The expansion will include two facilities: a global headquarters for Discovery Life Sciences (DLS), and new state-of-the-art laboratory and greenhouse space for HudsonAlpha’s Center for Plant Science and Sustainable Agriculture.
“Alabama has a new accolade: global headquarters to a renowned and respected biosciences company,” said Governor Kay Ivey. “This will undoubtedly strengthen Alabama’s biosciences recruitment efforts and increase the economic impact to the city, state and region.”
In November 2020, Governor Ivey announced that HudsonAlpha had been awarded $15 million though the Public School and College Authority for the expansion project.
DLS’s new global headquarters will consist of 90,000 square feet and house its research and development, laboratory and business operations. DLS is an international market leader in biospecimen analysis, procurement, and distribution for the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and diagnostics industries.
“Discovery Life Sciences, formerly Conversant Bio, began with two entrepreneurs and is now a force in the biospecimen market, employing over 400 people around the world. We look forward to DLS growing its presence on HudsonAlpha’s campus,” said Jim Hudson, co-founder and chairman of the HudsonAlpha board.
With this expansion, the HudsonAlpha Center for Plant Science and Sustainable Agriculture will add 13,000 square feet of lab and greenhouse space and will be able to propagate and grow research plants to improve existing crops and develop new uses for plants.
HudsonAlpha’s partnerships with Auburn University and Alabama A&M University will be strengthened while productivity will be enhanced. Specifically, the teams will advance genomics enabled breeding pipelines for new varieties of crops, will continue to maximize fuel production from plant biomass, reduce fertilizer use, and reduce or eliminate fungicides to increase grower yields.
“HudsonAlpha is one of the world’s largest genomics institutes in plant science and we collaborate with research groups everywhere to discover and then apply the discoveries to crop improvement,” said Jeremy Schmutz, a co-director of HudsonAlpha’s Genome Sequencing Center. “We also will work closely with HudsonAlpha’s Educational Outreach team to attract the next generation of plant science students. These students need to be trained and inspired to go further to make an even greater impact in improving agriculture.”
The biotech campus is home to more than 1,000 employees, including those from HudsonAlpha’s research labs and the more than 45 life science associate companies that call the Institute home.
“This is a significant milestone not only for HudsonAlpha, but the entire state as well,” said Carter Wells, vice president for economic development. “Through this expansion, HudsonAlpha further solidifies its leadership position and expertise in plant genomics,” said Carter Wells, vice president for economic development. “Additionally, Discovery Life Sciences’ choice of Huntsville, Alabama for their global headquarters highlights the quality of our bioscience workforce and business environment.”
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