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Massachusetts Development Finance Agency, Genentech Foundation for Biomedical Sciences, Massachusetts Alliance for Economic Development, Oklahoma Applied Research Support, Worcester [Mass.] Business Development Corp., ScanBalt, BioLogue, BioSys, Argentina

Worcester, Mass., Startup Closes on $400,000 Loan From MassDevelopment
The Massachusetts Development Finance Agency has announced that ECI Biotech of Worcester, Mass., closed Nov. 20 on a $400,000 Emerging Technology Fund loan. ECI will use the funds to renovate its 11,610-square-foot office, research and manufacturing facility at 85 Prescott St. and purchase new equipment.

The loan will allow ECI to increase its workforce from the current 14 employees to 22 employees over the next five years. The financing will also allow ECI to start commercializing its technology, which includes sensors that detect infection and therapeutics that prevent tissue damage.

The loan is the second that ECI has secured from MassDevelopment this year. In April, the company closed on an $800,000 low-interest loan from the agency’s Emerging Technology Fund toward construction of a pilot manufacturing facility.

Genentech Foundation Awards $1.16M to Bay Area Educational, Community Programs
The Genentech Foundation for Biomedical Sciences has awarded 24 grants this year totaling nearly $1.16 million to 24 educational institutions and community-based organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area. The 2007 health science education grantees were deemed by the foundation to share its commitment to supporting innovation and expanding the scientific knowledge of local students.
Grantees consisted of organizations in San Francisco as well as Alameda, Marin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Yolo counties. A complete list of winners is available here.
Founded in 1988, the foundation is funded by Genentech through payments and royalties from license agreements under the Riggs-Itakura family of patents.

Six Life Sciences Companies Among Winners of MAED Economic Impact Awards
The Massachusetts Alliance for Economic Development has honored six life science companies among 16 winners of its Fourth Annual Team Massachusetts Economic Impact awards. The winners were selected based on their job and facility expansion since Jan. 1, 2006, as well as community involvement and other factors.
Bristol-Myers Squibb won MAED’s first State Champion’s award for “exceptional commitment to the state” — namely its $750 million, 397,000-square-foot first phase of a biologics-manufacturing plant under construction in Devens, Mass. BMS will employ 350 people when the plant is completed in 2009; additional stages are projected to increase the number of employees there to 1,000.
The other five winners:
  • BlueSky Biotech of Worcester, company to watch
  • Genzyme, Greater Boston region gold winner
  • Hyaluron Contract Manufacturing, company to watch
  • Microtest Laboratories, Western Massachusetts region silver winner
  • Millipore, Northeastern Massachusetts region gold winner
Winners were honored Nov. 20 at a ceremony in Boston’s Seaport Hotel. Daniel O’Connell, secretary of the state’s Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, delivered a keynote address to the more than 450 business, industry and political leaders who attended the event.

Oklahoma Group Puts $900K into Local Genomics Research
The Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology has granted a total of $900,000 to three Oklahoma-based genomics research projects.
The money was granted under the state technology development group’s Oklahoma Applied Research Support program, which is administering a total of $1.9 million to a number of technological programs based in the state, Bradley Sutherlin, OCAST’s contracts compliance officer, told BioRegion News’ sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News.
OCAST granted Riley Genomics $300,000 over three years that the company will use to develop a rheumatic blood test based on gene expression profiling.
Another recipient, Intergenetics, will use $300,000 over two years to develop multiplex assays to study DNA sequencing variations that could be used to help predict cancer risk and outcomes.
OCAST also will grant $300,000 over three years to Liyou Wu at the Institute of Environmental Genomics to develop microarray technology.

Massachusetts Governor Gets Bill to Transfer Land to Worcester BDC for Biotech Growth
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has been sent a bill to transfer 35 acres of undeveloped Worcester State Hospital land in Worcester to the city’s public-private Worcester Business Development Corp. for expansion of its biotechnology research park. The state Senate and House of Representatives last week approved the bill, which would authorize the state Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance to sell the land, off Plantation Street, to the WBDC.
David P. Forsberg, president of the business group, told the Worcester Telegram the bill would allow his group to negotiate a sale price based on fair market value assessment, then offer it for sale — most likely for expansion of life science research by private firms or the University of Massachusetts Medical School, which is planning for major expansion of stem cell and gene therapy research facilities as part of Patrick’s $1 billion, 10-year Life Sciences Initiative. [BioRegion News, Nov. 5].
The property runs alongside the developed portion of the Massachusetts Biotechnology Research Park, which has five research and biomedical buildings across Plantation Street from the UMass Medical School.

Roundtable Discussion Focuses on Collaborations in Europe’s Medicon Valley
ScanBalt, BioLogue, and BioSys will present a Dec. 6 executive roundtable discussion with selected representatives from academia, industry and support organizations from the Medicon Valley — which includes Denmark’s greater Copenhagen and Sweden’s Skåne region — to promote business-academic collaborations in biosystems technology, which encompasses biotechnology as well as biomedicine, bioinformatics, and microsystems technology.
The roundtable discussion, “Enabling private-public partnership in Biosystem Technologies in Medicon Valley," will take place at Carlsberg Akademi in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The executive roundtable will present opportunities to obtain funding through the European Union and outline the benefits for the Medicon Valley region. The outcome of the executive roundtable will be published as a white paper with an executive summary.

ScanBalt promotes life sciences activity in 11 nations: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Russia, and Sweden. BioLogue is Denmark’s pharmaceutical industry consortium, while BioSys promotes the development of bioinformatics and systems biology in Denmark.


Argentina’s New Leader to Create New Science Ministry, Retain Funding Growth Policy
Argentina’s President-elect Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who takes office next month, announced the nation will establish a Ministry of Science, Technology and Productive Innovation to be headed by molecular biologist Lino Barañao as minister of science in her new cabinet.
Barañao is a researcher at Argentina's National Council of Science and Technology, also known as CONICET, and the current president of Argentina’s National Agency of Science Promotion. Barañao told Science and Development Network in an interview that his ministry will focus on promoting science and technology for economic development — especially biotechnology, nanotechnology, and information technology software.
Barañao also said the ministry will continue the government's policy, launched in 2004, of increasing spending on science and technology by 2010 to 1 percent of Argentina’s gross domestic product, estimated this year at $228.96 billion, from the current 0.65 percent. Half that increase is expected to come from private industry and the rest from government.

Genesis Announces Cooperation Agreement with Chinese Microbiology Institute
Genesis Pharmaceuticals Enterprises, a US pharmaceutical company with principal operations in China, has signed a cooperation agreement with the Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, to build a "Genesis Pharmaceuticals Industrialization Model" toward joint research, with the goal of commercializing pharmaceutical discoveries.
The industrialization model is IMCAS' first cooperative arrangement with a pharmaceuticals manufacturing company. Genesis will fund the model's daily operations and research and development activities. New drugs that have completed first-stage testing will be delivered to Genesis's factory for further testing before being commercialized. Genesis will have the first right to purchase patents for any products developed by the Industrialization Model and IMCAS.

The Scan

Genes Linked to White-Tailed Jackrabbits' Winter Coat Color Change

Climate change, the researchers noted in Science, may lead to camouflage mismatch and increase predation of white-tailed jackrabbits.

Adenine Base Editor Targets SCID Mutation in New Study

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, report in Cell that adenine base editing was able to produce functional T lymphocytes in a model of severe combined immune deficiency.

Researchers Find Gene Affecting Alkaline Sensitivity in Plants

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Science have found a locus affecting alkaline-salinity sensitivity, which could aid in efforts to improve crop productivity, as they report in Science.

International Team Proposes Checklist for Returning Genomic Research Results

Researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics present a checklist to guide the return of genomic research results to study participants.