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Bristol-Myers Squibb, South San Francisco Planning Commission, Bay Area Council, Yangtze Fund, North Carolina Biotechnology Center, Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, Pennsylvania Department of Community an

Bristol-Myers Squibb Plans 4,300 Job Cuts, Shutdown of Manufacturing Plants
Bristol-Myers Squibb will shut down more than half its 38 manufacturing plants and cut 4,300 jobs, representing 10 percent of its 43,000-person global workforce, under a cost-cutting plan announced Dec. 5.
The manufacturing plants would be shut down by 2010, while the job reduction would mostly take place in 2008 and 2009 under BMS’ Productivity Transformation Initiative, the company said. Late in November more than 1,300 staffers received notice that they were being laid off, while the company this year had already announced plans to close plants in Barcelona, Spain; Colón, Panama; and Mayaguez, Puerto Rico.
In addition, BMS said it would:
  • Cut its portfolio of mature-brand products, now exceeding 500, by 60 percent between this year and 2011.
  • Sell its medical-imaging business.
  • Explore a possible sale and other options for its Mead Johnson & Company nutritionals businesses, whose products include Enfamil baby formulas; and Mead Johnson’s ConvaTec wound-care unit.
BMS said the cost-cutting plan would generate $1.5 billion in annual savings for the pharma giant. But the plan will cost the company between $900 million and $1.1 billion — of which $300 million is projected to be incurred this year, and $400 million to $500 million expected to be incurred in 2008.
“It is difficult to see our valued colleagues leave the company, but right-sizing our workforce across all areas is critical to achieving our productivity goals and enhancing the competitive position of the company,” BMS CEO James Cornelius said in an announcement.

Genentech Wins South San Francisco Planning Commission OKs for Additional Projects
The South San Francisco, Calif., Planning Commission on Dec. 6 approved plans by Genentech to build a new 280,000-square-foot Founders Research Center III within its campus in the city — one week after granting the biotech giant an approval for a 165,000-square-foot building that combines R&D, manufacturing, and lab space with offices.
FRC III would consist of two five-story buildings containing laboratories and offices. The buildings would be connected to each other via a bridge, and connected to another research building. Construction of FRC III is projected to take two years.
The approvals mark the latest Genentech expansion projects approved by the commission during 2007. In March, the planning commission approved 165,000 square feet of office space and a 51,000-square-foot daycare center. The projects were approved as part of a 10-year expansion plan to more than double the company’s space to more than 5.9 million square feet within 163 acres.
Over the next decade, Genentech plans to build a total 1.6 million square feet of offices, 1 million square feet of laboratories, 260,000 square feet of manufacturing space, and 250,000 square feet for amenities, including the daycare center, spread across 16 new buildings. The company has said the expansion plan will allow it to add 6,000 staffers to its local workforce of more than 8,000 employees. [BioRegion News, April 30].
As part of the plan, Genentech agreed to pay the city $4.57 per square foot in traffic impact fees.

US, Chinese Business Leaders Join to Establish $200M Venture Capital Fund
Business people from the San Francisco Bay Area have joined with counterparts from China’s Yangtze River Delta area to launch a $200 million venture capital fund to fuel Chinese biotechnology and high-tech start-up ventures, the state-run newspaper China Daily reported on Dec. 5.
The new SVB Capital China Councils Fund will be managed by SVB Capital, the investment arm of California's Silicon Valley Bank. The fund is the centerpiece of a region-to-region development project between Bay Area Council, a business public policy organization based in San Francisco, and China's Yangtze Council, led by billionaire Hong Kong developer Vincent Lo. The fund, to be both dollar- and yuan-denominated, will largely target enterprises operating within the Yangtze River Delta, which consists of Shanghai and its two neighboring provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang.
The fund was set up in the Knowledge and Innovation Community, a zone jointly developed by the Yangpu district government and property development company Shui On Land. The fund’s purpose is to create an environment that fosters technological innovation and entrepreneurship similar to that of Silicon Valley, the newspaper reported.

NC Biotech Center Awards $250,000 Loan Toward Blood Test Commercialization
The North Carolina Biotechnology Center has awarded $250,000 to Precision Human Biolaboratory to boost its commercialization and development of a unique blood test for major depression. The loan amount was the maximum available under the Biotechnology Center’s Strategic Growth Loan program, launched last year to assist startup North Carolina biotechnology companies. SGL loans must be matched by an equal "angel network" or venture capital loan or investment.
PHB, founded at Research Triangle Park in 2006, is developing a technique for diagnosing and monitoring the therapy of clinical depression, also called major depressive disorder. PHB’s diagnostic platform includes a sensor chip to capture biomarkers in patients’ blood samples that are specific to the target disease. It also includes a dedicated instrument to analyze the chip’s signals and process the resulting data into a physician-friendly format. 
PHB has raised additional funding of more than $600,000 and has submitted three federal Small Business Innovation Research grant proposals. One of those SBIR applications has been approved by the National Science Foundation for Phase I funding of about $100,000.
PHB was founded by five life science professionals, including Yiwu He, who serves as president, and John Bilello, who is chief scientific officer. Additional founders include CEO Bo Pi and Perry Renshaw, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Larry Stambaugh, former CEO of Maxim Pharmaceuticals and principal of Apercu Consulting Services, serves as board chairman.

Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse Funds Therapeutics Company, Assists in Relocation
The Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse said it has invested $200,000 in Cognition Therapeutics, and has assisted the early-stage biopharmaceutical company in relocating to southwestern Pennsylvania, as well as connecting the company to additional sources of capital and equipment. The Cognition team has moved from San Francisco to the PLSG Incubator and laboratory space on the city’s South Side.
Cognition focuses on developing small-molecule therapeutics targeting the toxic proteins that cause Alzheimer's disease and other degenerative diseases. PLSG’s investment will support the deployment of the phenotypic assay technology platform. Cognition is the tenth company that the PLSG has helped relocate to the Pittsburgh region.


Rhode Island Economic Development Corp. Approves First Innovation Tax Credits
The Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation has approved the first tax credits — of $100,000 each — for six startups under the year-old Innovation Tax Credit program to investors in businesses deemed high-growth and high-wage. Hearing aid developer Bionica was one of six companies to benefit, as were Lighthouse Security Group, Ocean State Solutions (doing business as mPay USA), Providence Health Solutions, Public Display and Tizra.
The program offers credits of up to 50 percent on eligible investments, to a maximum $100,000. To be eligible for the credit, an investor must invest in a Rhode Island business that produces traded goods or services and has annual gross revenues of less than $1 million in the prior two calendar years.

Harrisburg, Pa., Biotechnology Consortium Receives $160,000 Grant to Train Students
The Capital Area Biotechnology Partnership, a consortium of Harrisburg, Pa., regional institutions focused on preparing local students for careers in biotechnology and related fields, has been awarded a $160,000 grant through the state Workforce Leadership Grant Program. Rebecca Bagley, deputy secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development, announced the grant during Biotech Day 2007, hosted by the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology.
The university oversees the partnership, whose objectives include developing an academic continuum for biotech and related careers; creating seamless transitions for students from the Harrisburg School District, Harrisburg Area Community College and Harrisburg University who are interested in biotech and related fields; and collaborating with business and industry leaders to interact with potential students.

Governor Rendell Announces $110,000 Investment to Keep Youth in Agriculture
Thirty-one youth organizations have won a total $110,000 toward aquaculture, animal science, food safety and other agricultural projects under Pennsylvania’s Agricultural and Rural Youth Grant program. Recipients may win direct grants of up to $2,500 for educational outreach efforts, with matching grants of up to $10,000 given to groups needing assistance with building and equipment funds.
The 31 organizations receiving grants were selected by a board of representatives from the Pennsylvania Departments of Agriculture and Education, Pennsylvania FFA, Pennsylvania Association of Agricultural Educators, Penn State Cooperative Extension and members of the state House and Senate Agriculture and Rural Affairs committees.

The Scan

Science Confidence Boost

The New York Times reports that a new poll finds trust in science and scientists has increased with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Appeal and Funds

Some grant applications denied funding due to an Australian Research Council rule change have now been funded following an appeal, the Guardian reports.

Surveillance for Variants

Vox writes that the detection of the Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant highlights the need for improved viral genomic surveillance.

Nature Papers Examine Taxonomic Gaps in Plant Sequencing, SARS-CoV-2-Human Interactome

In Nature this week: plant genome sequencing dominated by affluent countries, and more.