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Mission West Properties, Academic Medicine Development Company, New Yorkers for the Advancement of Medical Research, Nebraska Advantage Act, Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse, Celsense, Falcon Genomics, Glucose Sensing Technologies, Michigan Economic De

Mission West Update: Three Would-Be Buyers Weigh Acquisition as Debt Market Stymies Earlier Prospect
Mission West Properties has announced three potential buyers “that have internal sources of financing” are carrying out “due diligence” financial reviews to determine if they can meet the real estate investment trust’s pricing conditions for buying most of its assets.
Mission West said it contacted the three after learning that a would-be buyer was not likely to close on a previously announced $1.8 billion acquisition. Eager to capitalize on a real estate market favorable to snapping up REITs — and angry that San Jose officials rejected an unrelated rezoning request Mission West chairman and CEO Carl Berg pursued through another entity he owns — Mission West has sought to sell 93 properties totaling 6.9 million square feet. The properties include 5941 Optical Court, home to the San Jose [Calif.] BioCenter, a biotech incubator established in 2003 by the city, Mission West and the San Jose State University Foundation. The REIT would retain another 17 properties totaling 800,000 square feet
After searching six months for buyers, Mission West narrowed down the field to the potential buyer with which it began talks last month [BioRegion News, July 23].
Published reports named the would-be buyer as Starwood Capital Group of Greenwich, Conn. Both Starwood and Mission West have declined comment on the identity, though Mission West said conversations with that buyer are continuing. The deal had been expected to be finalized in August, and closed by September or early October.
The buyer completed its due diligence and had agreed to terms of a sale when its lender pulled out of the volatile debt market, Mission Bay disclosed in an Aug. 12 press release that added: “The buyer has acted in good faith and made every effort to find alternative solutions, but in this very difficult debt market has been unable to do so.”
“The company is continuing to lease buildings, aggressively pursue new tenants, and run its business in the normal manner with little or no disruption as a result of the potential sales transaction,” Mission West added.

AMDeC Named Host Organization for NY Coalition Seeking Stem Cell Research Funding
Academic Medicine Development Company, an umbrella for 28 downstate New York medical schools, academic health centers, and major medical research institutions, has been named the host organization for New Yorkers for the Advancement of Medical Research, a statewide coalition of 46 organizations advocating state funding of stem cell research and other areas of regenerative medicine.
Robin Gelburd, AMDeC general counsel and a former chair of NYAMR, told BioRegion News the group is heartened that New York state under Gov. Eliot Spitzer has proven more willing to fund stem cell research than it was under his predecessor, George Pataki. Till now, the state’s network of research institutions and scientists has been able to obtain private philanthropic funding — the Starr Foundation awarded $50 million in 2005 to Weill Medical College of Cornell University, Rockefeller University and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center — while other states, including California and Massachusetts, crafted their own state subsidy programs.
“The fear was, as all these other places started getting substantial funding, they would start poaching New York of its talent. I think the scientific community was holding its breath and hoping at least to get that express endorsement from the state that that spigot would start flowing,” Gelburd said in an interview. “There’s a guarded celebratory mood within NYAMR. However, we think there’s a lot of work that still needs to be done.
“The mission of NYAMR, so to speak, is to make sure that quality stem cell research is funded and supported, and that the scientists get the resources they need to do the work they think is really bona fide good research,” Gelburd added.
The institutions’ effort to seek state funding for stem-cell research comes four months after Spitzer and state lawmakers agreed to create an Empire State Stem Cell Board to oversee the Empire State Stem Cell Trust Fund, through which the state plans to spend $600 million on stem cell research over 11 years.
The program was launched in the fiscal year that started April 1, with $100 million set aside in the state’s $120.9 billion budget, and will continue with $50 million a year in state funding over the following 10 years. The first research grants are expected to be approved next year.
On July 26, Spitzer announced 11 appointments to the two committees comprising the stem cell board. Five professionals were named to the funding committee: Kenneth Adams, president of the Business Council of New York State; Robin Elliott, chair of NYAMR and executive director of the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation; Gerald Fischbach, Columbia University executive vice president for health and biomedical sciences, dean of the faculties of health sciences and dean of the faculty of medicine at Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons; David Hohn, Roswell Park Cancer Institute president emeritus and executive director of health policy; and Memorial Sloan-Kettering President Harold Varmus.
Hohn and another five professionals were named to the ethics committee: Samuel Gorovitz, a medical ethics authority and professor of philosophy at Syracuse University; Robert Klitzman, director of the ethics, policy and human rights core of the HIV Center for Clinical and Behavioral Studies at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University; H. Hugh Maynard-Reid, North Brooklyn Health Network; Tia Powell, executive director of the New York State Task Force on Life & the Law; and Robert Swidler, Northeast Health general counsel and vice president for legal affairs.
Each committee will consist of 13 members, with state Department of Health Commissioner Richard Daines serving as chair of both panels.

Nebraska Credits Incentive Program with $2.67B in Biotech Investment, 1,860 Jobs
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman announced that an economic stimulus measure enacted in 2005 has attracted to the state more than $4 billion in investment by 116 companies looking to create a total 10,475 jobs statewide. Twenty-six biotech companies accounted for $2.67 billion of the total capital spending, and 1,860 of the jobs.
Biotech is one of four categories of businesses eligible for benefits under the Nebraska Advantage Act; the other three are financial services, manufacturing and processing, and telecommunications and other business services. The law, which took effect Jan. 1, 2006, provides tax credits to businesses based on a tiered structure of capital investment and job creation. Businesses creating at least 10 new jobs and investing $1 million in capital are eligible to receive benefits under the Nebraska Advantage.
Broken down by geographic location, 55 projects are located in the four-county area making up greater Omaha, 18 are in or around Lincoln, and the remaining 43 projects are in communities throughout the state, primarily in greater Nebraska.
Nebraska Advantage also includes a tax credit program geared to companies doing business in rural communities, a program to train workers in newly created jobs, and a technical assistance program for small companies or microenterprises.
“It takes more than a package of tax credits to stimulate new job creation,” Heineman said in an Aug. 13 press release trumpeting the program’s first 18 months. “Our state continues to attract the attention of businesses looking to expand because of the many wonderful things Nebraska has to offer. However, you also need a competitive and dynamic business climate and that is the edge the Nebraska Advantage has helped provide.”

Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse Invests $350,000 in Three Innovative Technologies  
The public-private Pittsburgh Life Sciences Greenhouse has invested a total of $350,000 in three companies:
  • Celsense — $100,000 to help further the commercialization of Cell Sense, an MRI tracer agent that labels cells in culture and the company’s flagship product. Last month the company delivered initial quantities of Cell Sense to customers in the US and Europe.
  • Glucose Sensing Technologies — $100,000 to support development and testing in vitro of a prototype catheter that will be used to continually measure blood glucose levels in an intensive care unit setting.
  • Falcon Genomics — $150,000 toward the validation of the Cancer BioChip System, a high-throughput assay system for individualized cancer target identification and validation using silencing RNA.
The award raises to $7.5 million the amount of capital invested in 40 regional startup companies by the PLSG, leveraging as a result $154 million in additional capital.

Michigan Governor Granholm to Lead Investment Mission to Sweden, Germany
Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm is leading an overseas investment mission to Sweden and Germany that began on Aug. 18.
Michigan Economic Development Corporation president and CEO James Epolito will accompany the governor on her fifth trade mission — which will include her first to Sweden and third to Germany.
"This mission is about attracting the high-tech companies that will invest and create jobs in Michigan," Granholm said. "As we work to diversify our economy, targeting the alternative energy sector, and invest in our workforce training, we have a strong business case to make to encourage these companies to expand or locate in Michigan."
In Sweden, Granholm will address the Swedish American Chamber of Commerce, participate in a business roundtable on alternative energy, and meet with leaders from the biotech company Vironova, the neurological drug developer Neuronova, and 14 other companies that are either doing business in Michigan or considering expansions into North America. Nearly 50 Swedish companies currently have operations in Michigan, employing more than 6,000 workers.
The governor will also travel to Germany to meet with executives of six companies. Michigan has more than 300 German-owned companies with over 170,000 employees.
Granholm credits two previous investment missions to Germany and two to Japan with announcements by businesses of more than $302 million in new investments and more than 2,300 new jobs in Michigan.

Grand Rapids,Kalamazoo Economic Development Groups Launch Partnership
The Right Place, a Grand Rapids, Mich, economic development group, and Southwest Michigan First, its counterpart in greater Kalamazoo, Mich., have partnered on a new study that shows drug development and biotech offer rich opportunities for life sciences businesses in the two metropolitan areas.
The report concluded that biopharmaceutical companies and medical device makers have the best opportunity to grow in a 100-mile long region that stretches from the Indiana border to northern Kent County, where more than $1 billion has been invested recently in life sciences, and where more than 850 open clinical trials have been conducted, making it one of the nation’s largest biopharma clusters.
“By packaging what we collectively offer we can truly compete with the better known markets for those larger investments and become a real player in this market,” said Birgit Klohs, president of Right Place, in an Aug. 15 press release announcing the new partnership.
As a first effort in this new partnership, the Right Place and Southwest Michigan First have co-sponsored “Life Sciences in Western Michigan,” a study by Taimerica Management Company principle Ed Bee.
The 67-page report contains a series of investment, incentive and funding recommendations to raise West Michigan’s profile in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries worldwide.
Two issues are critical to success in Western Michigan. Leaders need to focus on investments in startup companies with broad stock ownership, not on jobs. Jobs come through the reinvestment of external investment capital in the region. That’s the payoff that lifts the overall standard of living and creates new jobs in the economy. That’s the reason that Boulder, San Diego and Austin, among others, have become dynamic economic centers. This strategy is based on copying that model, not on the old model of stimulating direct job creation,” the report concluded.

Campbell Alliance Announces Opening of New Office in Atlanta
Campbell Alliance, a management consulting firm specializing in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries, has opened a new office location in Atlanta’s Cumberland section, on the 19th floor of the Riverwood Building.
The Atlanta office is intended to provide a convenient location for serving the firm's existing pharmaceutical and biotech clients in the Atlanta area and throughout the Southeast region. The firm has efforts to recruit experienced local candidates for client companies.
The new Atlanta office marks Campbell Alliance's fourth new office location in the past year, its sixth office on the East Coast, and the ninth overall.

The Scan

Suicidal Ideation-Linked Loci Identified Using Million Veteran Program Data

Researchers in PLOS Genetics identify risk variants within and across ancestry groups with a genome-wide association study involving veterans with or without a history of suicidal ideation.

Algorithm Teases Out Genetic Ancestry in Individuals at Biobank Scale

Researchers develop an algorithm known as Rye to tease apart ancestry fractions in admixed individuals at a biobank-scale, applying it to 488,221 UK Biobank participants in Nucleic Acids Research.

Multi-Ancestry Analysis Highlights Comparable Common Variants at Complex Trait-Linked Loci

Researchers in Nature Genetics examine common variants implicated in more than three dozen conditions, estimating genetic effect similarities across ancestry tracts in admixed individuals.

Sick Newborns Selected for WGS With Automated Pipeline

Researchers successfully prioritized infants with potential Mendelian conditions for whole-genome sequencing or rapid whole-genome sequencing, as they report in Genome Medicine.