Massachusetts State Senate Passes $1B Life Sciences Bill
The Massachusetts state Senate on March 20 approved the state’s $1 billion life sciences bill in a 32-4 vote, according to local news reports.
The Senate approval comes three weeks after the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a version of the bill [BioRegion News, March 3].
Like the House bill, the Senate’s version of the legislation includes a $500 million public bond to pay for capital projects in the life sciences sector, $250 million in research grants, and $250 million in tax incentives for firms in the industry that create jobs in the state.
The House and Senate will now work on a final version of the bill for Governer Deval Patrick to sign.
Alkermes to Close Chelsea, Mass., Facility in Restructuring
Alkermes last week said it will reduce its workforce by about 18 percent and will close its AIR commercial manufacturing facility in Chelsea, Mass., as part of a restructuring plan following the decision by partner Eli Lilly to terminate its AIR inhaled insulin program.
Alkermes said that it decided to reduce its workforce by around 150 employees and close the Chelsea facility “based on its current expectations of the financial impact of Lilly's termination of the AIR Insulin program.”
Alkermes said it does not expect the restructuring to affect its expenses for its 2008 fiscal year, which ends March 31. The company expects to take a restructuring charge in the fourth quarter in the range of $5 million to $10 million associated with the reduction in workforce and facility-related expenses, as well as an impairment charge of up to $15 million in the fourth quarter related to fixed assets at the Chelsea facility.
Alkermes expects cost savings from the restructuring in the range of $15 million to $20 million in fiscal 2009.
Alkermes is headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., and has research and manufacturing facilities in Massachusetts and Ohio.
Report: No Impact on Lake Nona 'Medical City' from Owner’s Bear Stearns Loss
The Lake Nona medical campus that developer the Tavistock Group is building in Orlando, Fla., will not be affected by owner Joe Lewis’s loss of more than $1 billion from the crash of investment-banking firm Bear Stearns, a spokesman for Tavistock told the Orlando Sentinel last week.
The paper reported that Lewis had paid an average of about $107 per share for 11 million shares of Bear Stearns. The value of these holdings plummeted in the wake of JPMorgan Chase’s purchase of the firm for around $2 per share and the assumption of debt.
"It happened very quickly. The investment essentially went to zero," Doug McMahon, a managing director for Tavistock, told the Sentinel. McMahon added that Lewis will not have to sell any of Tavistock's assets because no debt was involved in his Bear Stearns holdings.
“He can absorb the hit, and it doesn't change the business here one way or another," McMahon told the paper.
Tavistock recently announced plans to build a 100,000-square-foot wet lab on-spec within the $2 billion, 600-acre Lake Nona science and technology park being developed in Orlando. [BioRegion News, Feb. 25].
Southern Calif. Biotech Group Plans Conference to Spur Regional Development
The Biotech Forum, a regional organization created to support the biotech industry along the “101 Corridor” in Southern California’s Los Angeles, Ventura, and Santa Barbara counties, sill host a half-day conference on March 27 entitled “The Perfect Storm: Forecasting An Emerging Regional Biotech Industry.”
The Biotech Forum was established by Brent Reinke, the founder of the Gold Coast Business Forum, and John Dilts, the founder of investor network Maverick Angels, in an effort to help create a regional biotech cluster in Southern California.
“We are seeking to bring together all of the necessary players for creating a thriving eco-system focused on new biotechnology and medical device ventures in the area,” Dilts said in a statement.
According to a statement from the organization, recent layoffs by local pharmaceutical firm Amgen, have led to “a growing number of prospective biotechnology entrepreneurs” in the region.
The conference will include a keynote from Beth Seidenberg, a partner at venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, as well as a series of panel discussions focused on creating a biotech cluster in the region. Panelists will include representatives from several VC firms, local government representatives, and representatives from several local universities.
Further information about the conference is available here.
Merged Arizona Industry Groups to Host BIOZONA
The newly merged Bioindustry Organization of Southern Arizona and the Arizona BioIndustry Association (see related story, this issue) will host their first event as a combined organization next month.
The conference, called BIOZONA 2008, will be held April 8 in Tucson. The conference, formerly the Arizona Bio Expo, will include sessions on financing for bioscience companies, the use of biomarkers as diagnostic tools, updates on the patent reform issue, and the latest trends in regulatory compliance.
The conference will also include plenary addresses from Peter Corr, former senior vice president at Pfizer, and Richard Love, chairman of ImaRx.
Further information about the conference is available here.
UCF Approves Master's Program in Biotechnology to Staff Local Initiatives
The University of Central Florida said last week that it will offer a master’s degree in biotechnology in an effort to prepare students for careers in the region’s growing biocluster.
The two-year biotechnology program, which will begin this fall, is expected to prepare students for careers at the UCF College of Medicine, the Burnham Institute for Medical Research, a planned Veterans Administration hospital, and the Lake Nona “Medical City” campus currently under development, UCF Provost Terry Hickey said in a statement.
“It’s that cluster of spinoff companies that’s really going to employ the bulk of the graduates,” he said.
Québec Joins Great Lakes Manufacturing Council
Canada’s province of Québec has joined the Great Lakes Manufacturing Council, an organization representing industry, non-governmental organizations, trade associations, organized labor, educational and financial institutions, economic development groups, chambers of commerce, governments, and others to promote manufacturing in the Great Lakes Region.
Québec’s joins nine provinces and states in the council, including Ontario, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.
The council noted that Québec manufacturing is “particularly competitive” in the aerospace, agrifood, biotechnology, and environment industry design and transportation sectors.
The province’s biotechnology sector includes biopharmaceuticals, medical equipment, and natural health products. It currently includes around 380 companies and employs more than 24,500 people, the council said
Report: Alabama State Senator Introduces Bill to Create VC Fund
The Birmingham Business Journal reported last week that Alabama state Senator Roger Bedford (D-Russellville) has introduced a bill to provide equity capital for early stage companies.
Bedford, chairman of the state's Finance and Taxation, General Fund Committee, introduced a bill last month that would create the Alabama Venture Capital Fund and an Alabama Capital Investment Authority, which would oversee private investments that will be funneled to other venture capital funds already operating in the state.
Bedford told the Business Journal that establishing a venture capital fund would help diversify Alabama's economy and encourage more jobs among the energy, medical, and biotechnology sectors.
Delaware BioScience Association to Host Career Fair
The Delaware BioScience Association will host its first life sciences career fair at the Delaware Biotechnology Institute in Newark on April 2.
The event “represents the first targeted bioscience job recruitment in Delaware,” according to a statement from the organization.
Recruiting companies represent biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, instrumentation, medical devices, diagnostics, and lab construction. Participants include Aerotek Scientific, Strategic Diagnostics, DuPont, Air Liquide, Adesis, Agilent Technologies, ThermoFisher, ANP Technologies, Fraunhofer Center for Molecular Biotechnology, Gore, Nemours Biomedical Research, Quest Pharmaceutical Services, Siemens Healthcare Diagnostics, Critical Path Services, QS Pharma, Kelly Scientific Resources, ProTecs, Lab Support, and Yoh.
These firms are looking for candidates in the following areas: regulatory affairs, laboratory technicians, tissue culture scientists, synthetic organic chemists, sales and marketing, microbiologists, project managers, technical writers, research associates, accountants, postdoctoral fellows, clinical pharmacologists, metrology lab managers, technical services, QC chemists, and engineers.
Further information is available here.