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North Carolina Department of Economic Development, GlaxoSmithKline, Biotechnology Industry Organization, Arizona Technology Council, Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services, Punk Ziegel and Company, USA-India C

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GlaxoSmithKline Refuses $3.9M, Hinting at Zebulon, NC, Job Cuts
 
GlaxoSmithKline has declined some $3.9 million in state and local incentives related to the expansion of its manufacturing plant in Zebulon, NC, hinting that it may shrink its current workforce there of 200 jobs, the Triangle Business Journal reported.
 
GSK was offered a $1.4 million state Job Development Grant and a $500,000 One North Carolina grant from the state Department of Economic Development, and about $2 million in local incentives in 2005. All were conditioned on the company investing in the $92 million project, hiring 200 additional workers, and employing those people for at least a decade.
 
"While we have hired 200 additional employees, we are concerned that we may not be able to sustain them for 10 years," GSK spokeswoman Stefanie Mendell told the Business Journal.
 
Mendell aded the company has already has invested $100 million in the plant.
 
The additional hires raise to 1,000 the number of GSK employees in Zebulon, where the company manufactures Advair asthma inhalers. The Zebulon staff is part of a 6,000-person company workforce throughout the Research Triangle Park region. That number has begun to shrink as GSK carries out a global, three-year restructuring plan.
 

 
Schwarzenegger to Keynote BIO Convention, with ‘Heal, Fuel, and Feed the World’ Theme
 
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will deliver the keynote address at the 2008 Biotechnology Industry Organization International Convention, to take place June 17-20 at the San Diego Convention Center.
 
BIO has given this year’s convention the theme of “Heal the World, Fuel the World, Feed the World,” intended to reflect both the growth of life sciences beyond traditional drug discovery and the increasing global reach of the industry. The global theme will be incorporated in the convention’s panel discussions, BIO executives said at a Feb. 28 press conference.
 
BIO projects its convention will draw more than 20,000 attendees — as did last year’s event in Boston, which attracted 22,366 attendees and exhibitors, one-third of them from outside the US. The last time the convention took place in San Diego, in 2001, it drew 14,731 attendees.
 
A convention program and registration information are available here.
 

 
Arizona Technology Council Endorses Companion R&D Income Tax Credit Bills
 
The Arizona Technology Council last week endorsed a pair of companion bills that would increase the state’s research and development income tax credit for life sciences entrepreneurs, State Senate Bill SB1434 and House of Representatives Bill HB2653.
 
“Arizona policy makers made several important decisions in recent years to help foster an innovative environment. They now have the opportunity to support a policy that will strongly encourage the very activity at the center of innovation — research and development,” Steven Zylstra, president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council, said in a press release. “Arizona must compete with the rest of the world.”
 
The bills would raise to 2 percent the tax credit for qualified R&D conducted in Arizona, phased in over two years. The legislation is intended to eliminate the state’s competitive disadvantage with California — where the state’s budget watchdog, Legislative Analyst Elizabeth Hill, has rattled life sciences industry groups by proposing a partial rollback in the R&D credit [BioRegion News, March 3].
 
The tech council, which represents more than 450 life sciences and other tech-based businesses across Arizona, cited a 2005 report titled Beggar Thy Neighbor? The In-State, Out-of-State, and Aggregate Effects of R&D Tax Credits. In it, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco found that state R&D tax credits encourage relocation of R&D businesses from states with less generous credits, as well as further investment in private sector R&D and public-private collaboration by research universities. That report can be read here.
 

 
Wisconsin Workforce Development Dept. Awards $85K Grant for Life Sciences Training
 
Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development has awarded an Emerging Industry Skills Partnership grant of $85,000 to the Workforce Development Board of South Central Wisconsin to prepare 60 workers for biotechnology careers, and meet what the agency called a growing demand for workers in the region’s life science’s cluster.
 
The grant is expected to generate an additional $200,000 in funds from federal agencies and private sources such as Thrive, the Madison Region Economic Development Enterprise. The grant is one of 10 being awarded under Gov. Jim Doyle’s Emerging Industry Skills Partnership initiative, a total of $850,000 to train new and incumbent workers in biotechnology, renewable energy, and advanced manufacturing careers.
 
DWD Secretary Roberta Gassman announced the grant March 5 during a visit to Third Wave Technologies, a molecular diagnostics firm developing products to detect human papillomavirus, or HPV. She said the grant will help the workforce development board provide job skills training to 30 new workers and additional skills training to 30 incumbent workers; establish a career pathway framework; and develop a partnership of biotechnology and medical device association members focused on workforce development.
 
Partners in the biotech training project include Madison Area Technical College, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Capital Region Economic Development Entity, and the state Department of Commerce.
 
Madison and the rest of Wisconsin’s Dane County account for more than 6,100 life sciences workers, nearly a third of the state’s industry employment base. Biotech jobs are projected to increase by 15 percent in south central Wisconsin through 2014.
 

 
Ladenburg Thalmann to Acquire NYC Investment Bank With Life Sciences Focus
 
Miami-based Ladenburg Thalmann Financial Services has acquired Punk Ziegel and Company, a New York City investment bank focused on investments in the life sciences and financial services industries. Established in 1990 by William J. Punk Jr., Punk Ziegel has 45 employees and will be merged into New York-based Ladenburg Thalmann & Company Inc., a Ladenburg operating subsidiary.
 
The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2008. Once that happens, Punk will become a managing director of the subsidiary and chairman of its new Punk Ziegel Healthcare division.
 

 
Annual US-India BioPharma Summit Set for June 13 in Cambridge, Mass.
 
The USA-India Chamber of Commerce, which promotes trade and investment between both nations, will present its annual US-India BioPharma Summit on June 13 at the Hyatt Regency hotel in Cambridge, Mass. "Delivering Affordable Innovation through Cross Border Partnerships" is the theme of the summit.
 
Key Indian government officials are expected to attend the event, including Kapil Sibal, minister of science and technology; Surinder Singh, India’s drug controller general; and MK Bhan, secretary of the department of biotechnology.
 
Last year’s US-India BioPharma Summit drew more than 300 participants.
 

 
Economist Sees Promise for Biomedical Research in Tyler, Tex., Region
 
The life sciences is among industries whose growth is shifting from all-encompassing clusters to networks of more concentrated hubs and less concentrated spokes, Austin, Tex., economist Chris Engle told his audience at the Tyler (Tex.) Economic Development Council’s 19th Annual Investors and Contributors Appreciation Luncheon, held March 5 at the Holiday Inn Select hotel.
 
“Clusters are not happening like they used to be, and that's a good message for most of us who don't live in clusters," said Engle, chief project officer for New Economy Strategies, according to the Tyler Morning Telegraph. "If you want a biotech center, you don't have to be in a biotech cluster.”
 
Engle told his audience the Tyler region appeared to have a promising future in biomedical research.
 
“You've got these great assets," Engle said, adding that the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler “is looking to really expand its competency in the biotech and health care sector. Warehousing and distribution is a great opportunity for this region, and it will continue to be an opportunity as we start pushing more products through Mexico into Texas, and even from Louisiana.”
 
Clean-air tech companies, Internet businesses, financial and retiree service providers are four future growth areas for the Tyler area. But the region must improve the education of its workforce, which is now only at par with the state in the concentration of graduates with advanced degrees, the Morning Telegraph quoted Engle as saying — a consequence of the region’s agricultural and manufacturing past.
 
In 2007, TEDC President and CEO Tom Mullins said, projects shepherded by the council created 252 jobs, retained another 118 jobs and generated $24.6 million in new investment.
 

 
Contract Research Organization Opens Office in Shanghai, China
 
The Smithers Group, an Akron, Ohio-based contract research organization serving designers of medical and other products, has opened an office in Shanghai, China.
 
“This office will enable us to efficiently serve domestic Chinese companies who could benefit from our services and capabilities,” said Michael Hochschwender, Smithers’ president and CEO, in a press release. “Also, a full time presence will be of value to our North American and European clients who are looking to work with China-based suppliers.”
 
Lin Yang will head up the Shanghai office and lead the Smithers Group's efforts in China [See BioRegion Newmakers, this issue].
 

 
With New Office, New York’s Rockland County EDC is On the Move
 
The public-private Rockland County [NY] Economic Development Corp. and two affiliate agencies — Rockland County Industrial Development Agency and Procurement Technical Assistance Center — will move their offices within the Blue Hill Plaza office campus next week. As of March 17, the Rockland EDC will be located at Two Blue Hill Plaza, 3rd Floor, PO Box 1575, Pearl River, NY 10965. It had previously been located at One Blue Hill Plaza, 11th Floor. The phone number remains unchanged at (845) 735-7040.
 
In its new space, REDC will house a Small Business Center, allowing it to assist start-up entrepreneurs and in-business small business owners with services that include free business counseling and guidance on financial and other topics.
 

 
New Australian Research-Testing Facility Focuses on Brain Tumors
 
The Queensland Brain Institute, within the University of Queensland [Australia], has opened its new Australian Cancer Research Foundation Brain Tumor Research Center. The center was funded with $1.14 million from the ACRF.
 
The center calls itself the world’s first automated high throughput screening facility designed for testing and identifying stem cells derived from human brain tumors. Some adult neural stem cells have similar characteristics to brain cancer cells.
 
“This is the first time researchers will be able to isolate, enumerate and purify tumor stem cells with such high levels of efficiency,” Perry Bartlett, QBI’s director and a professor at the institute, said in a statement posted on QBI’s web site.
 
The new screening facility uses a combination of advanced techniques to record molecular changes in neural stem cell assays. The center is designed to complement QBI's existing advanced imaging and flow cytometry technology.
 
Despite significant advances in treatments, he said, the average life expectancy of patients with aggressive forms of brain cancer is often less than a year. Resistance to treatment is related to the slow rate of division of the tumor cells, as well as their migratory nature and ability to integrate themselves into normal neural tissue.
 
Scientists from QBI, the Institute for Molecular Bioscience, and the Queensland Institute for Medical Research — and research clinicians from Brisbane’s leading public hospitals — will all have access to the ACRF Brain Tumor Research Center.
 

 
Canada’s Niagara Region Schedules Day-Long Economic Summit for April 4
 
Business, community, and government leaders in Canada’s Niagara Region will hold a day-long summit April 4, in hopes of revising a three-year-old blueprint for the area's economy following a decade of job losses in heavy manufacturing. Those losses will widen on March 31, the day CanGro Foods plans to shut down its cannery in St. Davids, Ont., unless it finds a buyer for it.
 
Niagara has lost an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 industrial jobs in the past 15 years, prompting St. Catharines [Ont.] Mayor Brian McMullan and other regional officials to rethink Niagara's economic direction.
 
But the region has also seen plans to create a $90-million biotechnology and health center at Brock University, set to open by 2012, as well as a new-media business incubator in St. Catharines.
 
The Region's current economic blueprint, called Navigating Our Future: Niagara's Economic Growth Strategy 2005-2010, recommended targeting the life sciences and other strategic employers; rebranding Niagara; developing Niagara’s workforce; and boosting the region’s economic competitiveness. The report can be read at the Niagara Economic Development Corp. web site.
 
All aspects of the plan will be re-evaluated at the summit, with an updated version to be presented to the regional council for approval in the coming months, Patrick Gedge, the NEDC’s CEO, told the St Catharine’s Standard. Possible public-private partnerships and an update on Niagara's economic picture and performance compared to other regions will also be discussed at the event.
 

 
San Mateo County Community Leaders Hear Plea for More Workforce Training
 
San Mateo County, Calif., needs to increase career-technical educational programs, partnerships between the public and private sectors, and other measures to help local students compete in the global marketplace, community leaders agreed March 3 during the Competitive Global Workforce forum.
 
"Education is so essential. That's what we have to cultivate. This is a brain race, and the key players are not going to be countries, but regions,” said the forum’s keynote speaker, Paul Saffo, a county-based technology forecaster, according to the San Mateo County Times.
 
"San Mateo County is absolutely on the front lines of this. That means every teacher ... is probably more important than any CEO in this county,” Saffo said.
 
Ideas from the forum will be compiled in a document intended to offer strategies for school boards, businesses, and others on how to better train students for the region’s growing number of life sciences and other high-tech jobs.

The Scan

Plan Rebuffed

The Associated Press reports China has rejected the World Health Organization's proposal to include the lab-leak theory in the next phase of its investigation into the origins of SARS-CoV-2.

Opossum Change

Researchers from Riken have used CRISPR to edit marsupial genomes, as Technology Review reports.

In the Ice

Cosmos magazine reports that researchers have uncovered more than two dozen ancient viruses in a Tibetan glacier.

Nature Papers Present Method to Uncover Differential RNA Modifications, Neutrophils in Innate Immune Response

In Nature this week: computational approach to identifying differential RNA modifications, and more.