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International Stem Cell Registry, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, University of Maryland at College Park Dingman Center, Capital Access Network, Biotechnology Industry Organization’ 2008 International Conven

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UMass Medical School, Mass. Life Sciences Center Launch International Stem Cell Registry
 
The University of Massachusetts Medical School and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center have launched an International Stem Cell Registry designed to assist researchers and their patients – as well as promote the Bay State as a hotspot for regenerative medicine.
 
“We really are hopeful and confident that it will become a one-stop shop for information pertaining to, not just the stem cell lines, but stem cell research in general,” Melissa Walsh, the life sciences center’s chief of staff, told BioRegion News last week. “It is an important demonstration of Massachusetts’ commitment to expanding and enhancing the life sciences environment throughout the state.”
 
The online registry has received a $570,000 grant toward full first-year operations from the life sciences center, the quasi-public agency charged with overseeing the state’s 10-year, $1 billion Life Sciences Initiative enacted earlier this year by Gov. Deval Patrick.
 
The registry’s funding for the second and subsequent years has yet to be determined. “That will remain to be seen. We are committed to being an ongoing partner with the medical school in this,” Walsh said.
 
“We are committed to continuing our conversations with them as to how they can move forward and continue the registry in years to come,” she added.
 
The registry, available here, details the properties and potential applications of specific hESC lines, and includes information for researchers interested in how to obtain the cells, including a catalog of references related to each hESC line. The registry also includes information for doctors and patients about advances in stem cell therapies, with the ultimate goal of providing a catalog of published and validated unpublished information on every human embryonic stem cell line derived to date.
 
“The launch of the Stem Cell Registry represents a milestone for the Commonwealth and will help to further solidify the state’s position as the global leader in life sciences,” Susan Windham-Bannister, the life sciences center’s president and CEO, said in a press release.
 
The ISCR is run out of the UMass Medical School’s Shrewsbury campus alongside the Massachusetts Stem Cell Bank, also funded by the MLSC and set to begin operation this fall.
 

 
Mass. Life Sciences Center President/CEO Vows ‘Responsive’ Process for Life-Sci Companies Seeking Aid
 
The president and CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center told an audience of leaders from the life sciences, business, and local governments that the quasi-public agency will be quick and efficient in responding to requests for funds from the $1 billion, 10-year life-sci initiative it is charged with overseeing.
 
“We will put in place a process that will be responsive,” Susan Windham-Bannister said during a Sept. 10 visit to Abbott Bioresearch Center in Worcester, Mass., the Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported. The visit also included a stop at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Venture Forum.
 
Among companies interested in state funding through the center, according to the newspaper, is Worcester-based ECI Biotech. While the company recently won a $1 million federal grant to develop a protein-based sensor that can detect how badly a wound is infected, ECI founder and chief technical officer Mitchell Sanders said the grant only covers part of the company’s expenses.
 
Windham-Bannister also said her agency’s staff will soon grow to 10 people, and that the center will focus its funding on areas of life sciences economic development it has yet to formally decide — comments along the lines of those she made earlier this month to BioRegion News [Sept. 8].
 

 
UMCP’s Dingman Center Expands Capital Access Network for DC-Baltimore Startups
 
The Dingman Center at the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business has expanded its Capital Access Network, designed to connect startups with investors, to include inventors and entrepreneurs working with Johns Hopkins Technology Transfer.
 
The new partnership adds to the Dingman Center's alliances through CAN with tech councils, incubators and state-funded institutions — including the Baltimore Emerging Technology Centers, the Montgomery County Department of Economic Development's Incubator Network, and the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute. The alliances enable the center to connect entrepreneurs of mid-Atlantic start-up companies with a network of more than 75 active, accredited angel investors and venture capitalists for early-stage capital.
 
Last week, in the first of this year's monthly CAN events, investors heard funding pitches from three companies.
 
Entrepreneurs seeking seed and early-stage funding apply to participate in the Dingman Center's CAN and are screened by the center's team of staff, entrepreneurs-in-residence, and MBA students. Each month, three companies are selected to present to CAN investors at the Smith School. After each event, the Dingman Center team works with investors and supports the companies as they pursue financing.
 
CAN, which began operation in 2005, last year accepted nearly 70 applications from companies, resulting in 22 presentations to investors and four funding events. 
 

 
Massachusetts Delegation Spent $80K on BIO 2008/Hollywood Trip; Gov. Patrick Defends Travel

A roughly dozen-person delegation headed by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick shelled out $80,000 for a five-day California trip this past June that included a visit to the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s 2008 International Convention in San Diego, and a one-day trip to Hollywood designed to generate more film industry activity in the Bay State, the Boston Herald reported.

While the Herald juxtaposed the trip with recent warnings of fiscal cutbacks by Patrick and other top state officials, Patrick’s office defended the travel in a statement: “We are in the midst of a hyper-competitive environment where other states and countries are competing for limited economic development opportunities. Now more than ever it is critical that we fight for every job and investment dollar.”

Patrick’s delegation included the state’s commissioner of housing and economic development, Daniel O’Connell, and state Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth), and “several other state lawmakers and staffers … along with officials from various public and quasi-public agencies,” the newspaper said. 

 

 
Temple, Tex., Health and Bioscience District Seeks Taxing Authority
 
The Temple, Tex., Health and Bioscience Economic Development District is looking to impose a property tax of up to 15 cents per $100 valuation on taxable property, the Temple Daily Telegram reported.
 
“I am sure the board will set the initial tax rate much lower if the election process is successful,” Wendell Williams, chairman of the Bioscience District board, told the newspaper.
 
Supporters of the district last week applied to the city for the right to collect about 145 signatures over 120 days, on a petition that will allow for a citywide election on the issue; the exact number will depend on a percentage of the voter count in the last municipal election. The measure has the support of Temple’s mayor, Bill Jones III, and others who argue the district needs to grow through taxation in order to establish the city as a life sciences hub with high-paying jobs.
 
In 2003, Gov. Rick Perry signed into law a measure allowing creation of the district, which local voters approved via referendum. At the time, the health and biosciences sector directly accounted for more than 30 percent of Temple’s total employment, according to the Temple Economic Development Corp.
 

 
BioAdvance Greenhouse Fund Commits $1.5M in Seed Financing to Three Regional Life Science Companies
 
BioAdvance, the Biotechnology Greenhouse of Southeastern Pennsylvania, has awarded $1.5 million in seed-stage funds to three emerging life sciences companies:
 
Receiving $500,000 each:
  • Formae, a Paoli, Pa., developer of products for arthroscopic joint resurfacing and replacement.
  • Niiki Pharma, a cancer drug development company with offices in Philadelphia and Hoboken, NJ.
  • Phoenix S&T, a Chester, Pa., developer of devices for biomolecular analysis in the mass spectrometry market. BioAdvance funding allowed the company to relocate from Maryland to Pennsylvania’s Delaware County Keystone Innovation Zone.
BioAdvance has committed nearly $14 million to 24 life sciences companies and 13 academic medical research projects since it was established by Pennsylvania in 2002, using money from the national tobacco settlement. That funding has allowed the companies to receive an additional $900 million in capital from other sources. That total includes $400 million generated from the July acquisition of Protez Pharmaceuticals by Novartis.
 

 
California Biofuel Company Among 25 Museum’s Tech Awards Laureates
 
Arcadia Biosciences, a Davis, Calif., agricultural biotechnology company, has been named a 2008 Tech Awards Laureate, one of 25 companies recognized for applying technology to benefit humanity and spark global change.
 
Arcadia was selected as one of five 2008 laureates for the 2008 Intel Environmental Award based on its nitrogen use efficiency, or NUE, technology, which applies genetic engineering to enable crops to produce higher yields with significantly less fertilizer than conventional crops.
 
The Tech Awards is a signature program of The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, Calif., and is presented by Applied Materials. Established in 2001, The Tech Awards recognize five laureates in each of five categories: education, equality, environment, economic development, and health. One laureate in each category will receive a $50,000 cash prize during the annual awards gala on Nov. 12.
 

 
Study Projects 62,000 New Jobs from Biofuels, Alt-Energy ‘Green Recovery’ in North Carolina
 
A coalition of North Carolina environmental groups led by the Conservation Council of North Carolina has projected that the state can generate 62,000 new jobs through a “green recovery” initiative incorporating biofuels and other forms of alternative energy.
 
The study said the green recovery project would direct $2.9 billion in funds to North Carolina, and should be spent as follows:
  • $1.2 billion for energy-efficient building retrofits.
  • $877 million for biofuels and other forms of alt-energy, including wind and solar power.
  • $585 million for mass transit and rail freight.
  • $292 million for a new “smart” electrical grid.
The green recovery concept was outlined on a national basis in a 40-page report prepared by the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and the think tank Center for American Progress. The report projected the US would create 2 million jobs through a two-year, $100 million program, to be funded through a greenhouse gas “cap-and-trade” program under which companies could buy and sell carbon-based energy permits.
 
The national program envisions spending $50 billion in tax credits for businesses and homeowners toward retrofitting buildings for alt-fuels and energy efficiency; $46 billion for mass transit, smart electrical grids, renewable energy networks and retrofitting of public housing projects; and $4 billion in federal loan guarantees for financing retrofits and alt-energy projects.
 
The report, Green Recovery – A Program to Create Good Jobs and Start Building a Low-Carbon Economy is available here.