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BioRegion Real Estate: May 15, 2009

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With Lease of MIT-Owned Parking Lot, Novartis Plans Cambridge, Mass., Expansion

Novartis has signed a lease for a 2-acre parking lot at 181 Massachusetts Ave. in Cambridge, Mass., where the pharma giant plans to build a new facility, the Boston Globe reported. The lot is owned by Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The new facility would expand a presence that now consists of about 2,000 employees occupying more than 1 million square feet of space split among 10 buildings, near Kendall Square and in research parks along Massachusetts Avenue. Most of that is in the former Necco candy factory, where Novartis bases its global research unit, though the company has recently also located its vaccines and diagnostics division to Cambridge.

Novartis is expected to build a research facility on the site, though no final decisions have been made.

"We're committed to Cambridge. This is a long-term investment. We have found it particularly beneficial to have the relationship with MIT, Harvard, and the hospitals in the neighborhood," Mark Fishman, president of the Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research, told the newspaper.

Novartis also believes the Cambridge location gives it access not only to new recruits at MIT and Harvard, but opportunities to collaborate with researchers at universities and teaching hospitals, according to the Globe.


Novozymes Expands Davis, Calif., R&D Campus, with Enzyme Production for Cellulosic Ethanol in Mind

Intent on boosting its research efforts in the cellulosic ethanol field and other areas, Danish-owned Novozymes announced Wednesday that it has opened two new buildings at its campus in Davis, Calif. The expansion adds 25,000 square feet of laboratory and office space, giving the company's Davis campus a total area of about 60,000 square feet.

Some 150 guests joined Novozymes executives and Davis Mayor Pro tem Don Saylor in formally opening the two buildings at a ceremony. Novozymes said the Davis expansion will enable it to develop the enzymes necessary for commercial production of cellulosic ethanol, as well as continue exploring new innovative enzymes, the specific focus at the Davis site is currently on further.

Novozymes said in a statement it will launch the enzymes in 2010.

"We have grown a lot in the past years and therefore need more space, both in terms of lab space and office space. With the addition of these new buildings we now have room to grow even further if that is required," Ejner Bech Jensen, president of Novozymes, said in a statement.


Medical Device Makers Adisco, Touch Bionics, Plan Expansions in Ohio

Adisco, a computer numerical controlled machining company specializing in plastic parts for medical devices, as well as for fluidics and chromatography applications, will move its manufacturing operations to the Dayton, Ohio, suburb of Kettering, from East Berlin, Conn. The company will keep a presence in the Nutmeg State with a satellite sales office.

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Adisco announced it has begun preparing to transfer equipment soon to a space at the National Composite Center, a business accelerator. Adisco expects to create 50 new jobs and enhance its new manufacturing technologies over the next three to five years. In return, Ohio's Department of Development awarded the company a 45 percent job creation tax credit worth an estimated $200,000 over six years.

The company told Manufacturing & Technology eJournal that it could invest as much as $5 million in additional equipment over the next five to seven years, and that it will hire "several" workers to start.

“Our intent is in implementing newer state-of-the-art CNC equipment as well as launching our proprietary processing techniques in polymer fabrication,” Richard Koczera, vice president of Adisco, told the trade publication.

Longer term, Adisco plans to move into a stand-alone facility in the Dayton region.

In Hilliard, Ohio, Scottish-owned Touch Bionics, a manufacturer of bionic prosthetic devices, will relocate its wholesale offices from Livingston, Scotland, to a new 5,600-square-foot facility at One Mill Run. The facility will house customer care, finance, a reimbursement assistance and clinical evaluation team, as well as sales and marketing functions, according to a written statement.

The new facility is one of two Touch Bionics is opening. The other will be a 7,500-square-foot facility in Bloomingburg, NY, to be built for the company's Livingskin production operations in New York.

“Our new production location will allow us to dramatically increase our Livingskin production capabilities to respond to increasing customer demand for both passive prosthetics and high definition coverings for the i-LIMB Hand," Mark Ford, Director of US sales and marketing, said in a statement.

The company will begin its Hilliard operation on June 1, and bring 20 jobs to the area, at a starting wage of about $65,000, ThisWeek Community Newspapers reported. In return, the company will receive a six-year, job-creation tax credit totaling $101,000 from the Ohio Department of Development. The credit requires the company to commit to keeping operations in central Ohio for at least 12 years.

Touch Bionics is projected to create about $139,419 additional taxes for the city during those 12 years.

"It was a pretty competitive search. The company was looking at sites in Dublin, Hilliard and Columbus," Hilliard economic development director David Meeks told the newspaper group.


MD Anderson Cancer Center Tops Out Alkek Hospital Expansion in Houston

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has topped out construction of its $220 million expansion of the Albert B. and Margaret M. Alkek Hospital in Houston, McCarthy Building Companies of Dallas has announced. The project will add 12 levels totaling 500,000 square feet to the existing 12-level Alkek inpatient tower.

“As the demand for inpatient beds continues to rise, we are seeing occupancies in excess of 100 percent. Achieving this milestone resonates with everyone at MD Anderson as we seek to meet the needs of our growing patient population,” Janet Sisolak, MD Anderson Cancer Center project director, said in a statement.

Instead of the traditional topping-out practice of placing an evergreen at the highest point of the structure, MD Anderson faculty, staff and patients signed their names and wrote messages on three steel beams to be used in the construction.

The expansion will be completed in multiple phases. The first phase included selective demolition, temporary waterproofing activities and the installation of a tower crane and a personnel/material hoist. The second phase will consist of the core and shell construction. The third phase will include the construction of the first three inpatient floors and is expected to be complete in 2010.

Five additional patient floors will be built as shell space in addition to the construction of a mechanical floor, and the renovation of several areas within the existing building. Those areas include level 12, which contains special air filtering systems dedicated to patients with compromised immune systems.

The MD Anderson Alkek Hospital expansion began in January 2008 and is set for completion in 2010. HKS of Dallas serves as architect for the design-build project.


The Scan

US Supports Patent Waivers

NPR reports that the Biden Administration has announced its support for waiving intellectual property protections for SARS-CoV-2 vaccines.

Vaccines Versus Variants

Two studies find the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine to be effective against viral variants, and Moderna reports on booster shots to combat variants.

CRISPR for What Ails You

The Wall Street Journal writes that CRISPR-based therapies could someday be used to treat common conditions like heart attacks.

Nature Papers Review Integration of Single-Cell Assay Data, Present Approach to Detect Rare Variants

In Nature this week: review of ways to integrate data from single-cell assays, and more.