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BioRegion Real Estate: Aug 21, 2009

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Murdock Denies Link Between Dole Foods IPO, Cost of Developing His $1.5B NC Research Campus

David Murdock, the billionaire food and real estate magnate who is developing the North Carolina Research Campus, was not forced to take his Dole Food Co. public because of the $1.5 billion he is set to invest in the downtown Kannapolis, NC, life sciences campus, an executive with his development firm told the Salisbury (NC) Post.

"His investment in the North Carolina Research Campus has nothing to do with it," Lynne Scott Safrit, president of campus developer Castle & Cooke North Carolina, told the newspaper via e-mail, noting that Dole was “a totally separate company."

Still, Dole Food will have a research and development laboratory at the research campus, which is built on the site of a textile manufacturing plant that Murdock also once owned. The 350-acre campus is being designed to accommodate a variety of human health, nutrition, and agriculture users.

Murdock told the Charlotte Observer that he has invested $500 million in the campus to date.

"The economy has slowed down and caused me to slow down," Murdock told the newspaper. "But I'm still doing many things there ... and still spending millions on the Core Lab," the centerpiece of the research campus, which houses the David H. Murdock Research Institute and, soon, the home to UNC Charlotte’s campus operations.

Murdock, 86, has been the sole stockholder of Dole Food since he took the company private in 2003. On Aug. 13, he registered with the US Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering that the company has projected will raise $500 million, though Dole Food did not reveal the price or amount of shares it plans to sell. If approved by the SEC, the company plans to list the common stock on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "DOLE." Goldman Sachs & Co., Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Deutsche Bank, and Wells Fargo are underwriting the IPO.


Burrill Defends $1B Elk Run Plan as Ex-Incubator Execs Question Wisdom, Expansivenes of BioBusiness Park

Biotech investor-analyst G. Steven Burrill defended his plan to spend $1 billion toward a life sciences campus within the multi-billion-dollar Elk Run mixed-use campus in Pine Island, Minn., in a newspaper report that included criticism of the wisdom and scope of the project from two former executives of a St. Paul incubator that has struggled to contain costs and capitalize on research developed at the University of Minnesota.

Burrill has said he will complete by year's end a $1 billion hybrid fund intended to finance the project. The fund would divide its assets evenly between real estate and venture capital – namely equity investments of $20 million in 15 to 25 companies that in return would be based at the biobusiness park, for a total $500 million. The remaining $500 million will go toward the rest of the projects that would comprise Elk Run [BRN, July 17].

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The biobusiness park is envisioned to total about 1.7 million square feet, most of a total 2 million square feet of biotech and industrial space. Developer Tower Investments has submitted to Pine Island city officials a plat map showing the location of the first building of the biobusiness park, a $6 million, 40,000-square-foot building designed to accommodate both biotech and industrial users [BRN, Aug. 14].

"I'm not getting a good sense that there is a workable business model here," Peter Bianco, director of life-science business development at Halleland Health Consulting and a former CEO of University Enterprise Laboratories, told the Star-Tribune of Minneapolis. "This thing defies gravity, in my view."

Randy Olson, a former general manager of University Enterprise Laboratories, told the newspaper that while venture capital-backed incubators have succeeded in places like Seattle and Menlo Park, Calif., the real estate portion of the fund adds a layer of unpredictability – namely, whether the state will subsidize the rents or leases of the companies that move to Elk Run.

Finding companies that could pay University Enterprise Laboratories' operating costs hobbled its mission to incubate start-ups, said Olson, who is now vice president of economic development at the Minnesota Initiative Foundation, a nonprofit philanthropic organization in Little Falls, Minn.

"There is a risk profile here that is probably off the charts," Olson said. "But we need more risk-takers in Minnesota," Olson said.

University Enterprise Laboratories last year laid off its general manager and hired a real estate firm to manage day-to-day operations. As of June, 25 companies were based at the incubator, none of which have originated from University of Minnesota research.

Burrill told the Star-Tribune that the biobusiness park will help Minnesota expand a life-sci industry that until now has been anchored on medical device companies like Medtronic.

"Minnesota sits at the intersection of predictive and preventive medicine," Burrill told the newspaper. "The state is mostly known for medical devices, but there's a much more natural linkage here than people think. But there has been no catalyst to ignite it here."

Burrill also told the newspaper he can help speed up the commercialization of Mayo's discoveries by pairing the technology with relevant companies that move to Elk Run: "It's not the pieces of dirt but it's the proximity [of Elk Run] to Mayo."


PerkinElmer Renews Lease for Manufacturing Site in Shelton, Conn.

PerkinElmer will keep its life sciences analytical instruments operations at its 254,000-square-foot space within 710 Bridgeport Ave. in Shelton, Conn., after signing a 10-year lease renewal for the space with landlord RXR Realty, the Connecticut Post of Bridgeport, Conn., reported.

"The rates are favorable. There's a highly experienced work force, a vast labor pool of technical and professional personnel, and it's a convenient location for international travelers and product transportation and shipping," PerkinElmer spokeswoman Sandra Schiller told the newspaper.

PerkinElmer, which is based in Waltham, Mass., bases 550 employees at the Shelton facility, which houses engineering, research and development, manufacturing, sales and service activities. The facility focuses on producing analytical instruments with biotechnology and pharmaceutical applications, as well as applications for the environmental and forensics professions.

Richard Conniff, chief operating officer at RXR Realty, told the Post that the rent did not increase, and that RXR will improve the heating, ventilating and air conditioning system, as well as parking and landscaping: "It's getting a nice little facelift."

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PerkinElmer is one of several businesses at the three-story, 452,414-square-foot building, whose tenants also include Panolam Industries and Pratt-Read.


University of Delaware, Delaware Tech Hone Requests for Facilities Grants Through Stimulus Act

Delaware universities and colleges are looking to the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – the economic stimulus measure enacted in February by President Obama – to fund at least partial costs for several new buildings and facilities, the News Journal of Wilmington, Del., reported.

The University of Delaware has included plans for a new undergraduate science building, expansion of the Delaware Biotechnology Institute, and renovation and expansion of the campus animal care facility among 150 requests totaling just over $200 million for building projects, as well as faculty research efforts, and equipment. So far, $35 million has been awarded but "we've probably got 100 requests still pending," Mark Barteau, senior vice provost for research and a member of the school's Stimulus Working Group, told the newspaper.

The News Journal also reported that Delaware Technical & Community College administrators are working on proposals for funds to upgrade science labs, as well as for equipment to add a program in health information technology, and provide high-tech training for nursing and allied health majors. Delaware Tech has been trying to obtain state funding for a health science facility on the Stanton campus, and other buildings, for years.


Covance Gains Seattle Lab With Acquisition of Merck Gene Expression Group

Covance has begun controlling operations at Merck's Seattle-based gene expression lab, after the clinical research and pharmaceutical services firm completed its acquisition of the Merck Gene Expression Group.

Financial terms of the purchase, announced last month, were not disclosed, but Merck has agreed to purchase of a five-year genomic analysis services contract worth $145 million as part of the deal.

Covance said that the staff of the Seattle lab, the former headquarters of Merck's Rosetta Inpharmatics subsidiary, now works for Covance.

"We recognized the need to expand our footprint in the important and growing genomics testing market and this transaction provided both a superior and quicker entry point than the build or buy options we considered," Joe Herring, chairman and CEO of Covance, said in a statement when the deal was announced on July 30.


Herbalife Acquires Lake Forest, Calif., cGMP Plant Among Assets of Micelle Laboratories

Herbalife said it will invest over the next 12 months in new equipment, and overall enhancements, for a Lake Forest, Calif., cGMP plant it will take over when it completes its pending acquisition of Micelle Laboratories.

The plant will produce products Herbalife will ship throughout North America and several international markets, the company said in a statement, adding: “The facility will also enable Herbalife to enhance its global product development and supply chain to better serve its independent distributors.”

The plant’s staff of 72 full-time and 20 part-time employees will be offered the opportunity to join Herbalife upon closing of the Micelle deal, something Herbalife said was anticipated in the next 60 days.

Herbalife is a global network marketing company that sells weight-management, nutrition, and personal care products. The company said in the statement that it acquired Micelle, a contract manufacturer of food and nutritional supplements founded in 1980, “to accelerate new products to market, be more flexible to meet the unique needs of our distributors around the world and enable us to ensure our quality standards are maintained along each step of the manufacturing process.”

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Micelle — which has manufactured supplements for Herbalife periodically since 1985 — has assisted over the past year in the development and has manufactured two new products recently introduced by Herbalife, mango-flavored herbal aloe powder, and mango-flavored herbal aloe concentrate.


UCSD Health Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur Join to Develop International Medical Center

The University of California, San Diego, Health Sciences and the Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur have signed a preliminary agreement to collaborate in the development of an International Medical Center at IIT Kharagpur. The goal is to jointly establish a state-of-the-art medical center that would be the first of its kind to be co-developed by a US university and an institution in India.

The institutions said they plan to build a 300-bed hospital on land provided by IIT Kharagpur. The International Academic Medical Center would include a research and development center, as well as an programs for the training of health care providers. UC San Diego has committed to providing leadership and training in nursing, hospital administration, health information systems, pharmaceutical practices, telemedicine, quality assessment and safety, among others.

UC San Diego and IIT Kharagpur’s research collaboration will include faculty, student and resident exchange programs and jointly supervised clinical trials. UC San Diego will advise IIT Kharagpur as it develops a medical curriculum at the medical center, with the aim of meeting accreditation requirements in India and the US.

The center will be an academic unit of IIT Kharagpur, where students could earn bachelors, masters, doctorates and postdoctorate degrees in fields that include medicine and surgery. Physicians and researchers from UC San Diego will work at the IMC as visiting faculty to facilitate collaborative educational and research programs. IIT Kharagpur faculty members will also spend several months each year as visiting faculty at UC San Diego.

India established IIT Kharagpur in 1951 as the first of 15 engineering and technology-oriented institutes of higher education. UC San Diego Health Sciences encompasses the School of Medicine, the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and UC San Diego Medical Center


New $17.4M Building Will House First Biology Classes for Arizona's Paradise Valley Community College

Arizona's Paradise Valley Community College was officially opened this week at an Aug. 20 ribbon-cutting event. The $17.4 million, 35,403-square-foot facility will rise on the southwestern corner of PVCC's campus, at 18401 N. 32nd St., and include classrooms and labs for biological sciences programs such as anatomy, physiology and microbiology – all of which previously had to share space in another building with chemistry, astronomy, and other science programs.

Anatomy and physiology programs will make use of a new cadaver that has been donated to the school, and is now on order with delivery expected in mid-semester, Hank Mancini, the science division chair, told the Arizona Republic. He added that biotechnology courses will be launched by spring or fall 2010.

Other amenities in the new biology building include six biology labs and lab prep/storage areas, two anatomy/physiology labs, seven general purpose classrooms, 10 faculty offices, and eight outdoor connecting pods designed to provide academic/social area. The pods will be furnished with chalkboards, tables and chairs.

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The firm Marlene Imirzian & Associates was project architect, with Design for Science serving as lab planner. Barton Marlow was the project's general contractor, and Paragon Structural Design, the structural engineer.


EMEA Approves $2.8M Expansion of Patheon Site in Manati, PR, With More Imports in Mind

The European Medicines Agency has approved plans by contract manufacturing organization Patheon to expand its facility in Manati, Puerto Rico, which the company said will enable it to import products to Europe, as well as improve an operation that previously ran at a loss.

Included in the expansion is capacity for high potency compounds, with containment down to one microgram per cubic meter occupational exposure limits, and humidity controlled solid dosage forms, according to Outsourcing-Pharma.com.

Partheon, which is based in Mississauga, Canada, first announced its $2.8 million expansion plan for the Manati facility in June 2008. The expansion added a 3,386-square-foot dedicated high potency and controlled substance production area. This area includes three manufacturing suites, air lock containment areas and humidity controlled air systems. By adding three manufacturing suites Patheon is able to perform technology transfer, bulk production and packaging and storage in one area.

Patheon acquired the Puerto Rican facility in 2004. In an effort to reverse losses sustained by the facility, Patheon sold or shrunk some Puerto Rico operations, but opted to expand the Manati site to handle high-potency compounds.

Patheon's future, however, will hinge on the outcome of a takeover war between two suitors. Lonza Group on Friday announced it wanted to acquire Patheon for $458.5 million. The move is supported by Patheon, which is trying to beat back a hostile takeover offer from JLL Partners, since Lonza's $3.55 a share is almost double the $2 per share offered by JLL.


For Avid, Local Tax Nearly Trumped Location Before Decision to Expand Within Philadelphia's University City Science Center

The CEO of Avid Radiopharmaceuticals told the Philadelphia Inquirer that while a local wage tax acts to discourage new investment, other factors more than made up for the tax and ultimately persuaded the company to stay and grow in the City of Brotherly Love.

Daniel Skovronsky told the newspaper that Avid chose to relocate and expand within the University City Science Center because of its proximity to the University of Pennsylvania, its ease of access for commuters among its 37 employees, and the quality of the center’s management. Those factors, he told the newspaper, outweighed the tax, which prompted the company to examine several suburban laboratory sites.

Avid, a developer of molecular imaging agents, has relocated from 5,000 square feet at the center’s Port Business Incubator, at 3624 Market St., to 16,000 square feet of office and lab space at the center’s newest building, the 155,000-square foot 3711 Market St. [BRN, Aug. 14].

Stephen Tang, the Science Center's president and CEO, told the Inquirer that drug companies usually head for the suburbs because they haven't always found the lab space they needed in Philadelphia – something he said his campus was working to change: “Our vision has been West Philadelphia, the University City part, should be more like Cambridge, Mass., and Mission Bay, San Francisco."


The Scan

Could Mix It Up

The US Food and Drug Administration is considering a plan that would allow for the mixing-and-matching of SARS-CoV-2 vaccines and boosters, the New York Times says.

Closest to the Dog

New Scientist reports that extinct Japanese wolf appears to be the closest known wild relative of dogs.

Offer to Come Back

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports that the University of Tennessee is offering Anming Hu, a professor who was acquitted of charges that he hid ties to China, his position back.

PNAS Papers on Myeloid Differentiation MicroRNAs, Urinary Exosomes, Maize Domestication

In PNAS this week: role of microRNAs in myeloid differentiation, exosomes in urine, and more.