Movement, but No Votes, on a Pair of Bills Eyed by California Life Sciences Leaders
Some incremental progress, but not definitive action, took place on two bills pending in California’s state legislature:
Net Operating Loss Carry-Forward: The measure was the topic of a bill analysis by the Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by state Sen. Tom Torlakson (D-Antioch). The analysis projected the bill would not cost California any money until the 2019-2020 fiscal year, when the state would lose $400,000, a figure that would grow to $1.25 million annually by 2029-30.
Assembly Bill 1370 — on the committee’s Aug. 7 “suspense” agenda — would double from 10 to 20 years amount of time life-science and other tech companies can carry forward tax deductions on their net operating losses [BRN, July 14; July 7].
CIRM Drug Access/Governance: Sponsors amended a portion of Senate Bill 1565 by requiring that in return for accepting funding from the state stem cell agency, the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, drug developers “provide drugs to California state and local government funded programs” at any of three benchmark prices in the California Discount Prescription Drug Program, unless waived from the rule by CIRM’s governing board, the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee.
The previous version of the California Stem Cell Research and Cures Act said “provide drugs to publicly funded programs in California.” The change followed concerns by CIRM that the bill’s drug-access provision may have otherwise been extended to federal programs such as Medicaid and Medicare. CIRM has sought additional changes to the bill, which it said last month it opposed [BRN, July 21].
The bill was placed on the Aug. 11 calendar for a third reading on the floor of the Assembly.
US Economic Development Administration OKs $2M for CenTech Park East Infrastructure
The US Economic Development Administration has awarded a $2 million grant to the private, non-profit economic-development group Worcester Business Development Corp. and the town of Shrewsbury, Mass., toward half the cost of construction of infrastructure, including a water tank, at CenTech Park East.
The 84-acre site is being redeveloped to accommodate 650,000 square feet for biotechnology and industrial businesses, with a projected 600 jobs.
Massachusetts’ two US senators, Edward Kennedy and John Kerry, joined US Rep. James McGovern (D-Worcester) in announcing the award last week.
“This is great news for the Central Massachusetts economy,” McGovern said in a press release. “I am very excited about the CenTech Park East project and I’m pleased that the EDA has recognized the potential there.”
Bothell, Wash., Biotech Company MDRNA Cuts 23 Jobs, in Third Layoff Round Since November 2007
MDRNA of Bothell last week said it was laying off 23 employees, including its president and chief business officer, as part of a restructuring intended to refocus the company on research based on RNA interference, rather than its troubled nasal spray business.
The job cuts are MDRNA's third wave of layoffs since last November, when Procter & Gamble pulled out of an agreement with the company to co-develop a nasal spray for osteoporosis. MDRNA, formerly Nastech Pharmaceutical, has laid off a total 145 employees, and now employs 55 full-time workers.
"We were looking for opportunities to move the entire nasal operations, including personnel, and although we're finding continued interest in those assets the likelihood it would be the entire business is not as high as it was," MDRNA CEO J. Michael French told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in an interview.
During a conference call with analysts, French said MDRNA decided to lay off president Gordon Brandt and chief business officer Timothy Duffy because their skills, focused on the nasal spray effort, did not match those associated with the RNA interference business. Both men will stay with the company through Sept. 30.
For the quarter ended June 30, MDRNA posted a net loss of $14.3 million, compared with a net loss of $12.4 million during the year-ago quarter. Revenue was $700,000, down from $4.9 million during the second quarter of 2007.
BioTrove Selects London as Site of First European Office
BioTrove has opened a new customer support and sales division in the UK to serve clients in Europe.
The Woburn, Mass.-based genomics toolmaker’s new base in London will be used to serve and support existing customers and to develop new partners in the biotechnology, academic, and pharmaceutical fields, it said.
"With customers and collaborations already underway in Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary and the Netherlands, the new BioTrove Europe division will serve as a vehicle to further strengthen our client ties and provide a home base from which to support and build our European user base," BioTrove CEO Albert Luderer said in a statement.
Report: Biotech, Other Industries to Generate $8.5B in VC, Private Equity Deals in India Over Next Five Years
Biotechnology and the broader life sciences are among industries that will generate a projected $8.5 billion of investment in Indian startups by venture capitalists and private equity firms over the next five years, according to a paper released last week by Deloitte and the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India.
According to “Indian Venture Capital – A Future Scenario”, VCs and PEs have shifted their investment focus from information technology to biotech/life-sci and four other technologies — logistics, clean technology, film production, and education — due to reduced regulation by Indian authorities.
ASSOCHAM and Deloitte projected that the biotechnology/life sciences sector alone will account for $1.5 billion of the projected investment dollars from VCs and PEs by 2012. The report cited recent activity, including the $20 million investment in a Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical company by a US-based life sciences fund. Investors are also active in funding medical devices and diagnostics companies, the report added.
Missouri Development Finance Board OKs $2.4M Tax Credit for Danforth Center for Research Park
The Missouri Development Finance Board last week awarded the St. Louis County Port Authority $2.4 million in tax credits toward the Bio-Research and Development Growth Park, now under construction and set for completion next year in the St. Louis suburb of Creve Coeur, Mo.
The first of three new office and laboratory buildings, the life-sci park is adjacent to the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. The first BRDG Park building has created nearly 400 construction jobs and is expected to generate 350 permanent, full-time jobs.
The port authority plans to sublease space in the BRDG Park to emerging life science companies and organizations that support them. The NIDUS Center for Scientific Enterprise has also committed to space at the building, which is marketing its available space for lease through CB Richard Ellis.
Also, the BRDG Park and Danforth Center are in discussions with St. Louis Community College to develop a program aimed at training future employees for careers in life science companies.
Wexford Science + Technology is developing the Bio-Research and Development Growth Park. Wexford and Monsanto will contribute a total $4.8 million to the Missouri Development Finance Board in return for the tax credits. The board, headed by Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, has provided tax credits that contributed to the initial creation of the Danforth Center in 1998.