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Jackson Lab, Connecticut Finalize Plans for Genomic Center

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Jackson Laboratory and the State of Connecticut have finalized the details of a $1.1 billion, 20-year plan to build a genomics research center on the campus of the University of Connecticut Health Center (UCHC) and will include UConn and Yale University as collaborators.

Under the final agreement for the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, the state will provide $290.7 million for the new facility and Jackson will raise the balance of $860 million through federal research grants, philanthropy, and service income. The state's $291 million commitment includes $192 million in a secured, forgivable construction loan to fund the building of the facility and $99 million in grants for research and related activities.

When the 250,000-square-foot lab is completed, in an estimated 20 years, it will employ 600 scientists and technicians.

Signed today by Gov. Dannel Malloy at a ceremony at UCHC, the agreement requires a commitment from Jackson to create at least 300 positions within 10 years, with at least 90 of those employees (or 30 percent) to be senior scientists. The annual average wage at the center will be required to be 125 percent of the average wage in the state, and preference must be given to state residents and vendors if they are qualified.

Jackson and the state also struck an intellectual property sharing agreement that will give Connecticut Innovations (CI), a quasi-public organization, 10 percent of any net royalty proceeds from IP up to $3 million and 50 percent of net royalty proceeds above $3 million starting in the 10th year and running over 15 years. During the first 10 years, if Jackson monetizes any IP through transfer, CI will have the same sharing arrangement described above.

When the state's legislature passed the plan to issue the bonds to fund the new lab in October, dissenting lawmakers had questioned whether the deal offered enough protections for the state, or could create enough jobs over time to justify the nearly $300 million taxpayers were being asked to provide.

"The state's investment in the Jackson Laboratory project is important for several reasons," Catherine Smith, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development and chair of the CI board of directors, said in a statement from the governor's office today. "It helps to grow an industry sector – bioscience – that holds great promise in terms of job creation, innovation, and capital investment for our state. It also helps build the critical mass of scientists and other top-flight workforce talent that will give Connecticut a competitive edge as we continue to attract organizations like this to our state."

"We've been working hard over these weeks of negotiations, and the process has helped us build strong working relationships with our new colleagues," added Jackson Laboratory President and CEO Edison Liu. "With this agreement in place, and with great partners across Connecticut, we're looking forward to building the bioscience industry here and doing great science that will improve medicine and health care."