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Massachusetts Certified Life Sciences Companies Program, Texas Biological and Agro-Defense Consortium, Massachusetts Biotechnology Council ‘BioReady’ Program, Assembly Government of Wales, Wisconsin Genomics Initiative, Wisconsin Biotechnology and Medical

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Oct. 20 Deadline for Comments on Implementing Mass. Certified Life Sciences Companies Program
 
The Massachusetts Department of Revenue is accepting public comment until Oct. 20 on a draft Technical Information Release detailing the regulations for implementing the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center’s program of tax incentives for “certified life sciences companies” seeking to grow or begin their businesses in the Bay State.
 
The center is the state-created agency charged with overseeing the tax incentives and other aspects of the $1 billion, 10-year life sciences initiative signed into law in June by Gov. Deval Patrick [BRN, June 16]. The center, in consultation with the revenue department, is authorized to provide up to $25 million in tax incentives annually, beginning Jan. 1, 2009.
 
The draft, and instructions on providing comment to the department of revenue, are available here. The center is also soliciting comments at [email protected].  
 
Click to see The text of the law, Chapter 130 of the Acts of 2008, “An Act Providing for the Investment in and Expansion of the Life Sciences Industry in the Commonwealth,” is available here; and a summary of the measure’s most important provisions, is available here.
 

 
Texas Consortium Commits $100M to Sweeten San Antonio NBAF Biolab Bid
 
The consortium of political, academic, and business leaders working to attract the US Department of Homeland Security’s proposed National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility to San Antonio is promising to set aside $100 million in state funds for the project.
 
More than half the money — $56 million — will come from state funds that Gov. Rick Perry, Lt. Gov David Dewhurst, and Texas House of Representatives Speaker Tom Craddick have pledged to secure during the state legislature’s upcoming session. Additional funds have been committed by the Texas Enterprise Fund, Texas Emerging Technology Fund, Texas Workforce Commission, City of San Antonio, Bexar County, San Antonio City Public Service, San Antonio Economic Development Foundation, and AT&T, which is headquartered in Dallas.

 “San Antonio provides unique advantages, including its skilled workforce, scientific community and transportation infrastructure that will provide the facility the resources it needs to fulfill its vital role in our national defense,” Perry said in a press release announcing the funding.

NBAF’s Texas site consists of 100 acres within the 1,236-acre Texas Research Park, straddling Bexar and Medina Counties. The research park site is part of a former working ranch that was donated to the Texas Research & Technology Foundation in 1986, and is located about four miles west of the city of San Antonio.

 
Members of the Texas Biological and Agro-Defense Consortium hope the biolab will help grow San Antonio’s budding commercial life sciences industry, which includes companies like Genzyme and DPT Laboratories, as well as add to the region’s number of government and other research facilities.
 
Texas is one of five states whose proposals to host the $451 million biolab remain under DHS consideration. The other four states are Georgia, Kansas, Mississippi, and North Carolina. DHS is also weighing a sixth option, retaining the existing Plum Island Animal Disease Center in New York [BRN, Sept. 15].
 
The homeland security department is expected to reach a final decision by the end of the year. Construction is set to start in 2010 and stretch four years.
 
DHS has projected its biolab would generate between 1,300 and 1,614 construction jobs over four years and create between $138.2 million and $183.9 million in labor income. When completed, the facility would have between 250 and 350 permanent jobs that together would yield between $26.8 million and $30.4 million in annual salaries.
 
The NBAF would consist of 500,000 to 520,000 square feet housed in two laboratory buildings and four outbuildings. One building would serve as the primary research facility containing biosafety laboratories rated 2, 3E, 3A, and the highest rating of 4, plus support spaces. The second building would serve as a laboratory for small-scale vaccine and reagent production.
 

 
Mass. Biotechnology Council Developing Rating System Gauging Comunities’ Readiness for Life-Sci Projects
The Massachusetts Biotechnology Council is developing a system that rates the state’s local municipalities on their readiness to accept life sciences projects, president/CEO Robert Coughlin told attendees at an Oct. 9 “Power Lunch” hosted at the Vachon Wildlife Sanctuary in Leominster, Mass., by the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce.
 
“We’re just starting the process now,” Coughlin said, adding that questionnaires are being sent out to communities on issues such as zoning regulations, according to the Worcester (Mass.) Telegram & Gazette. Communities with the highest scores will be designated “BioReady.”
 
“We’re competing with states that have sites all ready. Executives with these companies want to view a site and know they can put a shovel in the ground the next day,” the newspaper reported Coughlin as saying at the lunch. “In this state, these issues are local; not so in other states.
Coughlin also promoted the state’s $1 billion, 10-year Life Sciences Initiative signed into law by Gov, Deval Patrick in June [BRN, June 16], and shared the personal story behind his interest in the life-sci industry; his 6-year-son Bobby has cystic fibrosis.
 
“For my wife and I, this is personal,” Coughlin said. “Working with the council, I literally have six companies that are all within walking distance of my office, that are working on drugs that can give my son a chance to become an adult.”
 

 
UK Biotech Entrepreneur Sir Chris Evans Calls for Public-Private £1B Investment Fund for Startups
 
Sir Chris Evans, the UK serial biotechnology entrepreneur, called on the UK government to spend £500 million as its share of a £1 billion public-private pair of “super” funds designed to support life sciences companies in pre-commercialization phases, the Western Mail reported.
 
The chairman of biotech venture capital group Excalibur contended that absent the super funds — to be focused separately on companies starting up operations and companies consolidating operations through joint ventures — the UK will be forced to retreat from its current position as the world’s second-largest biotech nation behind the US in as little as six months’ time.
 
Evans said he has contacted several life-sci leaders, including Jeremy Curnock Cook, managing director and executive chairman of Bioscience Managers, about creating the funds. The private half of the £1 billion would come from investors and other entrepreneurs.
 
Evans has also requested £15 million from the Assembly Government of Wales, where he told the newspaper he has identified five to six biotech and medical companies that could benefit from the fund. Evans and colleagues plan to submit a detailed report on their funding proposal to the UK Government next month.
 
“You cannot dream up billion-pound successes. They need cash and [UK Prime Minister] Gordon Brown needs to support the sector, as is happening with banking, by getting the checkbook out,” Evans told the Western Mail. “The fund would provide them with enough cash so they can stay here in the UK for at least five years and really build their businesses. If we can do that we will not lose more assets and expertise — which are national treasures — offshore.”
 
Evans said the UK will lag behind Canada and Germany in six months’ time, absent the public-private funds. He said the UK’s biotech sector is facing the frostiest climate for financing he has experienced in his 20-year venture capital career, with London in his view effectively closed to business investment. Evans based that on his better success closing on $100 million in financing in Zurich, the US and the Middle East over the past seven to eight months.
 
“The credit crunch is also a factor as people are jumpy and really nervous,” he said.
 

 
Four Wisconsin Institutions Launch Collaborative Genomics Research Project
 
Four Wisconsin-based research institutions have banded together to form the Wisconsin Genomics Initiative with a focus on personalized healthcare research.
 
The collaborators include the Marshfield Clinic, the Medical College of Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The institutions will combine resources to conduct research on predicting individual susceptibility to disease, targeting personalized treatments, determining how patients respond to specific treatments, and disease prevention.
 
“By aligning the intellectual capital of four major research institutions, we will meet an important scientific and public health need that could otherwise not be met, and which cannot be accomplished anywhere else but Wisconsin,” Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle said in a press release.
 
The public-private collaborative was the result of a challenge issued by Doyle in 2006 at the groundbreaking for Marshfield Clinic's Laird Center for Medical Research expansion. He challenged the four institutions to combine and leverage resources to create a Wisconsin Medical Research Triangle.
 
One of the participants, Marshfield Clinic, is home to the Personalized Medicine Research Project, a population-based genetic research project that has collected DNA and medical records from around 20,000 people thus far.
 
"[The Oct. 10] historic announcement by Gov. Doyle solidifies Wisconsin's global leadership in personalized health care research. The collective strength of the four participating Wisconsin institutions, each a research leader in its own right, will move transformational DNA-based research from lab bench to bedside more quickly than ever,” Jim Leonhart, executive director of the Wisconsin Biotechnology & Medical Device Association, said in a statement.
 

 
Conference Links Wisconsin Biotech, Medical Device Companies with Life Sciences Giants
 
Wisconsin biotechnology and medical devices companies developing new products can build relationships with six major life sciences companies at the Building Strategic Partnerships and Alliances Conference, to be presented by the Wisconsin Biotechnology and Medical Devices Association and the state Department of Commerce on Oct. 22 at Waukesha’s Country Springs Hotel and Conference Center.
 
The six are Eli Lilly, Enlight Biosciences, GE Healthcare/Life Science, Johnson and Johnson, Medtronic, and Roche Nimblegen.
 
The conference will include presentations by companies seeking potential investors and business partners, and advice for securing both. The conference offers sessions on successful partnering; state and federal government assistance; product development in a virtual environment; and international perspectives. US Sen. Russell Feingold (D) and US Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) will highlight the conference’s luncheon session keynote forum.
 
The event will run from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Would-be attendees can register here. Registration fees will be based on the type and size of the registering organization.
 

 
Lilly Endowment Awards Two-Year, $2.8M Grant to BioCrossroads
 
Lilly Endowment has awarded a $2.8 million, two-year grant to BioCrossroads, Indiana’s public-private life sciences industry group. The grant is intended to fund through 2010 a variety of charitable, educational and scientific activities of BioCrossroads, an initiative of the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership.
 
"The Endowment's continued support is a catalyst for driving new initiatives and opportunities, and it has played a pivotal role in helping Indiana secure the position we enjoy today as one of the leading life sciences regions in the US," August Watanabe, chairman of the board of BioCrossroads, said in a statement.
 

 
Ohio’s Cardiovascular Innovation Center Awards $496K to Arteriocyte
 
Arteriocyte, a clinical stage biotechnology company with facilities in Cleveland, Ohio, and Hopkinton, Mass., has been awarded $496,000 through the Global Cardiovascular Innovation Center to continue clinical research on its lead stem cell therapy (ACY001) for use in chronic coronary ischemia. This funding is in addition to the first year GCIC support received in 2007, to accelerate the company's cardiac stem cell therapy development. Under the GCIC project, Arteriocyte participates as one of a number of companies working as research partners with the Cleveland Clinic.
 
GCIC is a $250 million research and product development consortium created through a $60 million grant from Ohio's $1.6 billion, 10-year Third Frontier Project. Founded in 2007, the consortium is led by the Cleveland Clinic and is comprised of Case Western Reserve University, Ohio State University, the University of Cincinnati, the University of Toledo and University Hospitals of Cleveland along with leading industry and economic development partners. GCIC is focused on developing, incubating, and commercializing cardiovascular technologies
 

 
French Biotechnology Industry Leaders Express Confidence in Future Despite Market Upheaval
 
Life sciences leaders in France remain confident that biotechnology companies and pharmaceutical giants will carry out several mergers, acquisitions, initial public offerings, and partnerships despite the credit market upheaval of recent weeks, according to a survey released by France Biotech, the life-sci industry group for its namesake country, at the EuroBIO 2008 Congress in Paris.
 
The France Biotech Annual Biotechnology Industry Report 2007 / 2008 recounted the strong year life-sci enjoyed last year, when activity by US biotech giants propelled the global biotech sector to a 6 percent sales gain over 2006, to $95.1 billion.
 
And while venture capital investment during the first half of 2008 fell by 8 percent, from €95 million ($129.2 million) to €87 million, the chairman of France Biotech has expressed optimism that investors will flock to the life-sci industry next year: "My bet is that next spring we will see a rally of investments turning to companies that can create a future, are truly innovative," France Biotech chairman Philippe Pouletty said in an interview with Reuters.
 
In a statement accompanying the release of the survey, Pouletty, the CEO of venture capital company Truffle Capital, also said France’s life sciences sector has yet to catch up with Europe’s leaders in the industry, let alone the world’s life-sci leader: “There is still a gap with our British, German and Scandinavian neighbors, and Europe continues to lag far behind the United States."
 
The French biotech industry has 73 products entering research phases, and 98 experimental drugs being tested on humans in clinical development phases — compared with 57 drugs in development by pharmaceuticals, according to the survey.
 

 
North Carolina Biotech Center Launches Web ‘Gateway’ to Grant Agencies, Grantwriting Advice
The North Carolina Biotechnology Center has launched a new feature on its web site linking researchers and others to grant-awarding agencies, as well as links to advice on writing successful grants
 
The new “Gateway to Funding Resources,” available here, provides links from the biotech center’s web site to how-to guides familiarizing visitors with both the grant-making process and the site, as well as to North Carolina university sites, free and fee-based grant database listings to the web sites of granting agencies, databases containing awarded proposals, and instructional sites containing tips for successful grant writing.
For more information about the biotechnology center’s Gateway to Funding Resources program, contact Amber Walker, the center’s corporate development manager, at [email protected].
 

 
Ohio and Israel Life-Sci Groups to Sign Economic Development Collaboration Agreement
 
The life sciences industry groups for Ohio and Jerusalem on Oct. 16 are set to sign a cooperative economic development partnership agreement following a year of collaboration between the organizations.
 
Leaders of BioOhio and Israel's BioJerusalem will sign their agreement at a formal ceremony at the Beachwood [Ohio] Chamber of Commerce offices.
 
Goals of the international collaboration going forward include exchanging business development opportunities, facilitating bioscience co-location, creating tools for Ohio and Jerusalem businesses to connect and communicate, and encouraging research and medical institutions in Ohio and Jerusalem to collaborate more frequently.
 
The signing of the "Global Partnership Towards Innovation” agreement is the first economic development agreement between the state of Ohio and Jerusalem. More than 30 signatories will be included in the agreement, including biomedical companies, institutions and economic development agencies representing all regions of Ohio.
 
BioJerusalem Executive Director Shirley Kutner and Daniel Kutner, consul general of Israel to the Mid-Atlantic US will represent Jerusalem. BioOhio Vice President John Lewis and Beachwood Mayor Merle Gorden will co-chair the agreement on behalf of Ohio.
 

 
Montgomery County, Maryland DBED Officials Take Trade Trips, With Goal of More Life Sciences Jobs
 
Officials from Maryland’s Montgomery County and the state Department of Business and Economic Development have embarked on a 10-day trip to South Korea and China aimed at drawing more life sciences companies from those nations to expand in the county.
 
County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) is on the trip along with aides and life sciences participants that include representatives from Amarex Clinical Research, TissueGene, RNL Biostar, Rexahn Pharmaceuticals, and Rafagen, plus the National Institutes of Health. Some are going for just the Korea or China portion.
 
A key focus of the trip is biotechnology, Patrick Lacefield, a spokesman for Leggett, told Maryland Community Newspapers, as the county wants to add to the number of Korean- and Chinese-owned businesses that have set up shop there in recent years. The trip's cost for Leggett and aides is about $38,000, Lacefield told the newspaper group — some of which the county expects would be reimbursed by the state.
 
In Korea, participants will attend the Bio Korea 2008 forum and meet with the president of the Korea Health Industry Development Institute, as well as pharmaceutical manufacturers. In China, the itinerary includes the signing of memorandums of understanding, as well as visits to the Chinese operations of two Maryland companies, U.S. Pharmacopeia and Sirnaomics, plus Chinese pharmaceutical companies. The group is scheduled to return Oct. 17
 
Korea is where DBED plans to open its sixth foreign office this fall. It will be the first foreign office that will be run by a private company — IDI Corp. of Ellicott City, which will be funded with the expectation that it attracts South Korean companies that create jobs in Maryland. Future foreign offices will be farmed out to private companies like IDI, Robert Walker, the state's director of international trade and investment, told Maryland Community Newspapers.
 
Representatives from Walker’s office have recently visited Sweden, Finland, Russia and South Africa — while the state will host later this year, or has recently hosted, delegations from Spain, Russia, China, and Finland.
 
The Finland visit included a pitch to get biotech and technology companies to invest in and move operations to the state. "We were told it was the first time a state delegation had much such a formal pitch to companies in Finland," Walker told the newspaper group.
 

 
Canada’s Lakehead University Launches Biorefining Research Initiative
 
Lakehead University in Canada’s Thunder Bay, Ont., has launched its Biorefining Research Initiative, with the goal of growing the region’s economy and transforming the school into a national leader in forestry-based research and innovation — namely refining renewable biomass materials, such as forest plants, fungi, and microorganisms. 
 
BRI is being funded with $6 million awarded by the government of Ontario last year. The funding enabled Lakehead to recruit top-tier biorefining researchers — including Australian biochemist Robert Dekker, BRI’s founding director; and Wensheng Qin, a molecular biology and plant biotechnology researcher from Stanford University who is one of the initiative’s Ontario Research Chairs.
 
BRI has also added a research chair collaboratively funded by the Shared Hierarchical Academic Research Computing Network and Molecular Medicine Research Centre, now known as Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute. BRI expects to fill soon the chair position, which will use Lakehead's high-performance computing and biomedical imaging facilities to design, model, and test novel molecules and enzymes used in the conversion of biomass or development of new biomarkers.
 
Collaborations between BRI and industry partners are being developed.  “We are also looking to secure additional research funding from provincial and federal granting agencies,” Qin said in a university press release.
 

 
BioOhio Annual Conference to Focus on Biomedical Piece of $1.6B State Jobs Stimulus Plan
 
BioOhio, the Buckeye State’s life sciences industry group, will hold its annual conference Oct. 20-21 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Dublin, Ohio. The conference will focus on the $100 million set aside by Ohio for biomedical company expansion and product commercialization as part of the state’s $1.57 billion Jobs Stimulus Plan, signed into law in June by Gov. Ted Strickland (D).
 
Ohio’s biomedical industry is one of four growth industry clusters to receive stimulus package funding. The plan also designates $250 million for a Higher Education Workforce Initiative to be coordinated by the Ohio Board of Regents, with the goal of creating additional life-sci jobs in the state.
 
According to BioOhio, the life-sci industry directly and indirectly supported more than 1.2 million jobs in Ohio in 2006, accounting for $146 billion in total direct and indirect economic impact in 2006 — 17.6 percent of the state’s total economic output.
 
An opening reception with a bioscience student poster session and sponsor booths will occur on Oct. 20. A day later, Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher will address conferees along with state and local industry leaders, and Craig Krenzel, the radio commentator for Ohio State University football who once led the Buckeyes as quarterback, and who graduated from OSU with a BSci degree in molecular genetics.
 
A complete agenda and registration information are available here.
 

 
Economic Development Group for NY’s Rockland County Honors Schreiner MediPharm
 
The public-private economic development group for New York’s Rockland County will honor Schreiner MediPharm at its 14th Annual Economic Development Awards Luncheon, set for Nov. 14 at IBM Palisades [NY] Executive Conference Center.
 
The Rockland Economic Development Corp. will honor the German-based provider of specialty pharmaceutical labeling for its expansion last year into the county. Schreiner MediPharm opened its first US production facility, a 50,000-square-foot plant in Blauvelt, NY, located within a state low-tax Empire Zone.
 
The family-owned company — which provides specialty labels and label printing services to healthcare customers in more than 20 countries — plans to hire 80 new employees over five years as part of its $14.5 million investment in Blauvelt.
 

 
Worcester, Mass., Biotech Selected for SBIR Commercialization Assistance Program

ECI Biotech, a Worcester, Mass., developer of protein-based technologies, has been selected by the National Institutes of Health to participate in the Small Business Innovation Research Commercialization Assistance Program.
 
The program, run by the Larta Institute of Los Angeles, is designed to assist small biotechnology businesses in bringing products to market. ECI Biotech will participate in the program’s Accelerator Commercialization Track, which includes time with a personal adviser, the company said in a press release.
 

 
Keiser University Cites $542M Annual Economic Impact on Florida's Economy
 
Keiser University, which operates 13 Florida campuses, last week released the findings of a consultant that attributed to the school a $542 million positive impact on the Sunshine State's economy.
 
In a Keiser-commissioned report, the Washington Economics Group found that university operations in Florida generate $21 million in state and local revenues, and support more than 19,000 jobs. The university enrolls more than 13,000 students and operates on an annual budget of more than $138 million.
 
The report also concluded that private, career-focused post-secondary educational institutions should be included in Florida's Higher Education Blueprint.
 
J. Antonio "Tony" Villamil, a former US undersecretary of commerce and head of WEG, told attendees during a recent breakfast meeting on economic and workforce development at Keiser’s Orlando campus that the state's public university infrastructure needs will require Florida to spend $8.1 billion more in operating expenses over the next several years, according to a university press release. Villamil is also Dean of St. Thomas University School of Business in Miami, a school with which Keiser cooperates on graduate education and private university initiatives.
 

 
Microtest Honored by Springfield (Mass.) Technical Community College; Inducted into STCC Western Mass. Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame
 
Microtest Laboratories of Agawam, Mass., has received the Hampden County Achievement Award and has been inducted to Springfield Technical Community College's Western Massachusetts Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame.
 
Microtest provides testing services and contract manufacturing for the medical device, pharmaceutical, and biotechnology industries. The company employs more than 100 people.
 
Established in 2000, the Western Massachusetts Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame honors entrepreneurial individuals and businesses in Western Massachusetts, with the goal of inspiring future business leaders. The hall of fame is located within the Andrew Scibelli Enterprise Center, which assists in regional economic development, entrepreneurship education and workforce development.
 

 
2008 Mid-Atlantic Bio to Include Presentations from 26 Life-Sci Companies
 
Ten later-stage growth companies and 16 emerging companies will present before an audience of venture capitalists and industry professionals at 2008 Mid-Atlantic Bio, the annual life sciences conference set for Oct. 23-24 at the Westfields Marriott Washington Dulles in Chantilly, Va.
 
A list of the companies is available here.
 
2008 Mid-Atlantic Bio is hosted by the Mid-Atlantic Venture Association, the Tech Council of Maryland/MdBio, and the Virginia Biotechnology Association.

The Scan

WHO OKs Emergency Use of Sinopharm Vaccine

The World Health Organization has granted emergency approval for Sinopharm's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, the Guardian reports.

Scientific Integrity Panel to Meet

According to the Associated Press, a new US scientific integrity panel is to meet later this week.

Trying in the Eye

NPR reports that a study of Editas Medicine's CRISPR therapy for Leber congenital amaurosis has begun.

PLOS Papers on Cerebellum Epigenetics, Copy Number Signature Tool, Acute Lung Injury Networks

In PLOS this week: epigenetics analysis of brain tissue, bioinformatics tool to find copy number signatures in cancer, and more.