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Deals and Doings: Dec 15, 2008

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Blue Springs, Mo., To Develop Innovation Park; Secures U of Missouri as Anchor Tenant
 
The Blue Springs (Mo.) Economic Development Corporation said this week that it will partner with the city of Blue Springs to develop the Missouri Innovation Park at Blue Springs, a 500-acre science and technology innovation park.
 
The Blue Springs EDC also announced that the University of Missouri has signed on as the park’s anchor research tenant and development partner. 
 
The EDC said in a statement that the park will bringing “significant job opportunities” to the Kansas City region “by linking the science and technology sectors of the animal health industry and the alternative energy industry with research based organizations along the I-70 corridor.”
 
MU will establish the Mizzou Innovation Center at the park, which will consolidate various activities at its Columbia campus. The Mizzou Innovation Center will ultimately provide the basis for scientific collaboration and commercial innovation links between the MU campus in Columbia and the research and private industrial community that will be located at the Missouri Innovation Park from throughout the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, the United States, and potentially the world. 
 
Kansas City Power and Light provided initial seed capital of an undisclosed amount for the project.
 
Brien Starner, president of the Blue Springs EDC, said that the partners already have under contract “many of the key real estate parcels” surrounding the Adams Dairy Parkway Golf Course. In addition, the City of Blue Springs “will agree to make the golf course available as an amenity and, if necessary consider it for expansion, at a future date to assist the innovation park," he said. 
 
"The Missouri Innovation Park will be a great asset for our region as we see more and more early-stage companies in the life sciences and animal health industries seek opportunities to root and grow in the Kansas City area," said Bob Marcusse, president and CEO of the Kansas City Area Development Council.
 
The development partners have issued a request for qualifications from developers to provide planning, development, management, and financing resources for the project. The planning phase for the project is expected to last for four to six months, followed by an 18- to 24-month design and development period. 
 
Financing for the project will come from “a combination of public tax increment financing, other economic development financing tools, private financing arranged by the ultimate developer, and other funding sources under study,” the partners said.
 

 
Emisphere To Close Tarrytown, NY, Facility in Restructuring
 
Cedar Knolls, NJ-based biopharmaceutical firm Emisphere Technologies said last week that it will shutter its Tarrytown, NY, facility as part of an effort to reduce its cash burn rate by more than $11 million annually, or more than 60 percent from current levels.
 
Emisphere has two products in Phase III for osteoporosis and osteoarthritis with its partner Novartis and the company also has an early-stage partnership with Novo Nordisk for the treatment of Type 2 diabetes.
 
Effective Jan. 1, 2009, Emisphere will start using third-party contractors for more of its activities, while retaining its resources in chemistry, process chemistry, applied biology, formulation and animal testing, and business development. “Outside resources, under the supervision of Emisphere staff, will be used for tasks as they relate to the requests of existing and potential partners rather than maintaining these facilities internally,” the company said in a statement.
 
The company plans to maintain a single corporate location in Cedar Knolls. The Tarrytown facility will be closed with “key employees” relocating to Cedar Knolls.
 
Emisphere said that “overall headcount will be reduced while maintaining scientific, financial, and commercial development capabilities,” but did not provide further details on its headcount.
 

 
MPI Lays Off 200, But Still Plans to Renovate Two Pfizer Buildings
 
Contract research firm MPI Research is laying off 200 people from its Mattawan, Mich., workforce, but still plans to purchase two Pfizer buildings in downtown Kalamazoo, Mich., before the end of this month and renovate them during 2009, according to news reports last week.
 
Bill Harrison, president and COO of MPI, said that the company will end 2008 with more than 1,500 employees — a net increase over the 1,400 workers it employed at the beginning of the year, the Kalamazoo Gazette reported.
 
Harrison told the paper that the national recession and credit crisis have led its customers to scale back the number of potential compounds they are trying to develop. He added, however, that many of those clients are delaying contracts with MPI until next year, rather than canceling them.
 
Meanwhile, MPI expects to soon finalize a deal with Pfizer under which it will buy two of the pharma giant’s downtown Kalamazoo laboratory buildings for $2. Building 126, on Lovell Street, is ready to occupy, but “is not the one we need in the short term,” Harrison told the Gazette, while Building 267, on Portage Street, is needed right away but requires “substantial renovation.”
 
MPI employees will start moving into the new buildings in early 2010, Harrison said.
 

 
Patheon Opens RTP Headquarters, Development Lab
 
Patheon, a drug development and manufacturing service provider, last week opened its new US headquarters and analytical lab facilities in Research Triangle Park, NC.
 
In addition to its new headquarters facility, the company last week also opened a new pharmaceutical development laboratory in RTP to support its operations in Cincinnati.
 
Wes Wheeler, CEO and president of Patheon, said in a statement that North Carolina is “a pro-business community, which combines attractive corporate incentives with a high quality of life for our employees.”
 
In June, the company announced its plans to relocate its headquarters from the Toronto suburb of Mississauga, Ontario, to RTP [BRN, June 23].
 

 
SL Green/Gramercy Venture Sell Interest in NJ Sanofi-Aventis Office for $230M
 
SL Green Realty and Gramercy Capital last week said that they have signed an agreement to sell their interests in a three-building, 670,000-square-foot property at 55 Corporate Drive in Bridgewater, NJ, for $230 million.
 
The transaction, negotiated by Inland Real Estate Acquisitions on behalf of Inland American Real Estate Trust, includes the assumption of a $190 million mortgage.
 
The 150-acre property is located at the crossroads of Route 206, I-78, and I-287, and serves as the North American headquarters, under a long-term net lease, for Sanofi-Aventis.
 
SL Green purchased and retenanted the property from AT&T in 2005 for a reported $125 million as part of a venture with the Gale Companies. Gramercy acquired its interests from the Gale Companies in 2006, and has since been the owner through a 50/50 joint venture.
 

 
Max Planck Taps Zimmer Gunsul Frasca as Architect, Jones Lang LaSalle as Program Manager for Florida Facility
 
The Max Planck Florida Institute said last week that it has selected Washington, DC-based Zimmer Gunsul Frasca Architects to design its 100,000-square-foot biomedical research facility on six acres at Florida Atlantic University’s MacArthur Campus in Jupiter, Fla.
 
Financial services firm Jones Lang LaSalle Americas will serve as the program manager to oversee development and construction for the project, which has received a total of $188 million from the state of Florida’s Innovation Incentive Fund and Palm Beach County.
 
“We conducted a national search for firms with the specific experience this project requires, with special emphasis on knowledge of major biomedical research facilities and laboratory operations,” said Claudia Hillinger, a representative of the Max Planck Society’s Division of International Relations, in a statement. “All of the proposals we received were excellent, however these two firms had exceptional national and local teams and in some aspects even exceeded our expectations.”
 
The two teams were selected from five architectural firms and five program manager finalists chosen by a steering committee of Max Planck Society senior staff.
 

 
Colorado State To Break Ground on Innovation Center, Biotech Incubator
 
Colorado State University is scheduled to begin construction this week on its $53 million, 72,000-square foot Research Innovation Center, located in the Judson Harper Research Complex on the university's Foothills Research Campus.
 
The three-story building is expected to be completed in April 2010. Research at the center will involve faculty and students as well as startup companies and other private-sector scientists. The top floor will serve as a biotechnology incubator for startups looking to translate university research into new products.
 
The Research Innovation Center will be an addition to CSU's 38,000-square-foot Rocky Mountain Regional Biocontainment Laboratory, completed on the Foothills Campus in October 2007.
 

 
Cook Medical To Open Facility in Canton, Ill.; Will Hire up to 300 Staffers
 
Bloomington, Ind.-based medical device manufacturer Cook Medical said last week that it will open Cook Canton, a new manufacturing plant to be located at the former International Harvester plant in Canton, Ill.
 
In collaboration with the city of Canton, Cook Medical plans to invest more than $5 million in a 45,000-square-foot facility in the fall of 2009.
 
Cook Medical said it plans to hire 50 to 75 employees once the building is complete, with employment increasing to around 300 jobs over the next few years.
 
Recruitment for positions will begin by June of 2009.
 
The company has requested a $750,000 Community Development Assistance Program grant and a $1.1 million Illinois Department of Transportation Grant from the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity for infrastructure improvements in the areas surrounding the new construction.

The Scan

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The UK has announced a further £29.3 million to stay on top of SARS-CoV-2 variants, the Guardian reports.

Push for Access

In a letter, researchers in India seek easier access to COVID-19 data, Science reports.

Not as Cold

Late-stage trial results are expected soon for an RNA-based vaccine that could help meet global demand as it does not require very cold storage, the New York Times writes.

Genome Research Papers on Microbes' Effects on Host Transfer RNA, Honeybee Evolution, Single-Cell Histones

In Genome Research this week: influence of microbes on transfer RNA patterns, evolutionary relationships of honeybees, and more.