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Credit Market Upheaval, 2008 Mid-Atlantic Bio, Binghamton University/SUNY, Michigan Economic Development Corp., Mascoma, US Department of Energy, City of Ann Arbor Assessing Division, Pfizer, Pharmatech Associates, Pacific Biopharma Group, Millipore, Invi

VC/Ex-MedImmune CEO David Mott Sees Megaclusters Gaining in Market Upheaval
The bigger the presence of life sciences employers and academic institutions in a region, the stronger its chances of surviving the current credit market upheaval, David Mott, the former MedImmune CEO-turned-venture capitalist, said last week.
“My expectation is, in this kind of an environment, is being in a significant cluster like this region, like the Cambridge-Massachusetts area, like the San Francisco Bay Area, like San Diego, is going to be even more important than it has been historically,” Mott said, answering a BioRegion News question during an Oct. 9 conference call with reporters.
“The networking, the access to venture capital in regions like this, the access to mentoring each other’s employees as we build companies, is critically important. And with a reduction in the access to capital, I think that’s only going to be exacerbated,” Mott added.
The conference call was hosted by organizers of the 2008 Mid-Atlantic Bio conference, the annual event sponsored by MdBio/Tech Council of Maryland, the Mid-Atlantic Venture Association, and the Virginia Biotechnology Association. The conference will take place Oct. 22-24 at the Westfields Marriott hotel in Chantilly, Va. Mott’s remarks can be heard in full here.
“I’m trying to work with a number of officials in the state, county, and local [levels] to make sure that we have the right environment to foster biotech growth, life sciences growth, in this region, and build on the tremendous infrastructure that’s already here,” said Mott, who last month joined the VC firm New Enterprise Associates as a general partner [BRN, Sept. 22]. He cited the presence in Maryland of the US Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health, as well as some 300 life-sci companies doing business statewide, anchored by HDS and MedImmune.
Mott left MedImmune last year, months after the company was acquired for $15.6 billion by AstraZeneca, capping a 15-year career in which he served as the biotech company’s chief operating officer, and chief financial officer, as well as president and chief executive officer.
During the conference call, Mott offered two reasons for hope amid the current market trouble. He said many life-sci leaders have learned to deal with tough financial times from running companies during the early 1990s, when life sciences leaders found “very, very little capital available to build even very good companies with very good management teams.
“There are a number of folks around with experience going through long dry spells in the capital markets. That experience will come in very handy right now,” Mott said.
The other reason for hope: Life sciences companies have had a year of dealing with the decline of the market for initial public offerings, and the resulting lack of liquidity.
“Unfortunately, I’m also a big investor, so I’m living through the liquidity crunch and credit crisis with everybody out there,” Mott added.

SUNY’s Binghamton University Starts Construction on $66M Science-Engineering Building

Binghamton University, part of the State University of New York system, has marked the start of construction on a new $66 million, 125,000-square-foot Science and Engineering Building, which will serve as a centerpiece for the school’s Innovative Technologies Complex.

Governor David A. Paterson joined university and SUNY administrators in a ceremony last week for the project, which is expected to be completed by August of 2011. The project is expected to generate 1,500 new construction jobs.
Binghamton University’s sponsored research funding increased 24 percent in the last year alone, and the school has estimated its economic impact in the state’s Southern Tier region at $673 million.


DOE, Michigan EDC, Award Mascoma $49.5M for Cellulosic Biorefinery in Kinross
Boston-based Mascoma has received a combined $49.5 million toward construction in Kinross, Mich., of a cellulosic fuel production facility that uses non-food biomass to convert woodchips into fuel. Mascoma will receive $26 million from the US Department of Energy, and $23.5 million from the Michigan Economic Development Corp., the state’s economic development agency.
General Motors and Marathon Oil are both investors in Mascoma, whose new facility is expected to produce 40 million gallons of ethanol and other fuel products per year. Mascoma said that it chose Michigan’s Upper Peninsula region based largely on the incentives provided by the state, the availability of “extensive” sustainable feedstock in forests and other agricultural biomass resources in the region, and the expertise available through the Michigan-based project partners and workforce.
In July, Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm signed into law a measure qualifying Mascoma for a $15 million state grant, enabling it to become Michigan’s first Center of Energy Excellence. 
Mascoma is partnering on the project with the timber and mining company JM Longyear, based in Marquette, Mich. The collaboration will involve the formation of a new company, Frontier Renewable Resources, which will own the project. In addition, Mascoma will team up with Michigan State and Michigan Tech Universities to tailor Mascoma’s technology and supply chain options for the specific Michigan feedstocks used in production.

Pfizer Pursues $6.3M Annual Savings by Challenging Assessment for Soon-to-Close Ann Arbor, Mich., Campus
Pfizer is challenging the tax bill for its soon-to-be-shuttered Ann Arbor, Mich., campus, contending that its property is worth half the amount assessed by the city government, the Ann Arbor News reported.
The pharma giant has filed papers in state tax court requesting that the assessed value of the property be halved to about $119 million from $238 million. The change would reduce its tax bill by about $6.3 million a year, Ann Arbor’s chief assessor told the newspaper.
If Pfizer wins, Ann Arbor would lose about $2 million in revenue, a drop the city’s CFO Tom Crawford said would have a “material impact” on the municipal budget. “While the city has, in its budgets, anticipated Pfizer's departure from town in relationship to their personal property, this kind of substantial tax appeal is not something we anticipated, something of this magnitude," Crawford told the newspaper, adding: "We were surprised and disappointed."
“As stewards of our resources, we are always looking at the value of our facilities and working with the communities where reduction is appropriate. In this case, because the facility is no longer being used and the equipment has been redeployed to other Pfizer sites … we felt an appeal was appropriate,” Pfizer spokesman Rick Chambers told the News.
About 100 people work at the Ann Arbor campus, nearly all of which will leave by month’s end. The campus once employed 2,100 people and has until now been the city’s largest property taxpayer.

Pharmatech Associates Leads Design for China’s First FDA-licensed Biomanufacturing Facility
Pharmatech Associates, a Hayward, Calif., consultancy in the life sciences industry, has been chosen by Pacific Biopharma Group to provide the Basis of Design — the first reference document reviewed as part of any licensure activity in China — for the first biotechnology manufacturing facility to be built in China that has attained approvals from the US Food and Drug Administration and European Medicines Agency.
The new 181,000-square-foot facility will be a cGMP laboratory that uses single-use technology throughout the biomanufacturing process. It will be located in Taizhou, Jiangsu Province, in the emerging biomedical science park known as China Medical City.
The project is a joint venture between PBG and CMC. In addition to manufacturing biotechnology products for late-stage clinical supplies, the facility will be used for development projects originating at the California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences or QB3 — the collaboration of the University of California’s Berkeley, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco schools based at known UCSF’s Mission Bay campus.

Millipore Opens New $83M Membrane Casting Manufacturing Plant in Ireland’s County Cork
Millipore has opened a new $83 million membrane casting manufacturing facility in Carrigtwohill, County Cork, Ireland. The 30,000-square-foot facility almost doubles the company's membrane production capabilities in County Cork, where it employs 580 people and has maintained operations for 20 years.
Millipore Chairman, President, and CEO Martin Madaus joined County Cork Deputy Mayor Noel Collins and Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheal Martin, in a ceremony marking completion of the facility.
The facility is expected to produce most of the company's membranes, used in various Millipore products requiring precise filtration and purification. Millipore's products are used to sterilize drug solutions, test beverages for purity, filter IV fluids in patient care and to support hundreds of other applications in life sciences sectors that include Medical Devices, Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology.
Headquartered in Billerica, Mass., Millipore employs more than 6,000 people in 47 countries.

Invitrogen Shells Out $1.2M for Five More Acres Near West Eugene, Ore., Campus
Invitrogen has acquired almost five additional acres near its campus in West Eugene, Ore., for $1.15 million, according to Lane County property records inspected by the Register-Guard of Eugene, Ore. The Oct. 2 purchase came at a time when Invitrogen has been looking at expanding its Eugene site, which has about 300 employees.
“Invitrogen is considering expansion plans, but at this time it cannot provide details,” company spokeswoman Revelle Bailey told the newspaper.
Based in Carlsbad, Calif., Invitrogen, announced in June that it planned to buy Applera’s Applied Biosystems Group for $6.7 billion in cash and stock. Shareholders of both companies are scheduled to vote on the proposed merger on Oct. 16, with the deal expected to close early next month.

Pherecydes Pharma Moves Into Paris Life Science Park Biocitech
Pherecydes Pharma has moved into Biocitech, becoming the 22nd company within the Paris life sciences technology park, and raising the park's occupancy rate to 93 percent.
Pherecydes is a biopharmaceutical company focused on biosecurity and biodefense. The company offers biosensors for the real time identification of bacteria and solutions for surface decontamination. The company is a spin-off from the research activities of Bio-Modeling Systems SAS, a predictive integrative biology specialist.
"We chose Biocitech for three reasons: its nearness to Paris, the quality of the accommodation and the services it offers," said Manuel Géa, co-founder of Pherecydes Pharma and CEO of Bio-Modeling Systems, in a press release.
Biocitech is a 20 minute drive from the center of Paris and Charles de Gaulle airport.

The Scan

LINE-1 Linked to Premature Aging Conditions

Researchers report in Science Translational Medicine that the accumulation of LINE-1 RNA contributes to premature aging conditions and that symptoms can be improved by targeting them.

Team Presents Cattle Genotype-Tissue Expression Atlas

Using RNA sequences representing thousands of cattle samples, researchers looked at relationships between cattle genotype and tissue expression in Nature Genetics.

Researchers Map Recombination in Khoe-San Population

With whole-genome sequences for dozens of individuals from the Nama population, researchers saw in Genome Biology fine-scale recombination patterns that clustered outside of other populations.

Myotonic Dystrophy Repeat Detected in Family Genome Sequencing Analysis

While sequencing individuals from a multi-generation family, researchers identified a myotonic dystrophy type 2-related short tandem repeat in the European Journal of Human Genetics.