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NYSTAR, North Carolina Biotechnology Center, Genzyme, Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development, Discovery Laboratories, Connecticut Innovations, FMP Products, Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange

NYSTAR Expects $1M More for FY 2010, Despite State Budget Woes; More for Tech Transfer and CAT, Less for Faculty Grants
The New York State Foundation for Science, Technology and Innovation, or NYSTAR, expects to receive more than $1 million in additional revenue disbursed from the state budget in the fiscal year that will begin April 1, despite Gov. David Paterson’s call that every agency reduce its own spending to plug budget deficits projected at $1.5 billion this fiscal year and help shrink the $47 billion combined budget shortfall projected over the next three and a half years.
Complying with a Paterson directive to develop a revised budget report for next fiscal year, NYSTAR submitted a spending plan, available here, that showed the agency receiving nearly $1.1 million, or 3.7 percent, more in revenues than the nearly $29.5 million projected for 2008-09.
The largest year-to-year increase, $300,000, would go to NYSTAR’s Technology Transfer Initiative program, designed to help universities and nonprofit research institutions commercialize their technologies. Another $200,000 would go to the Center for Advanced Technology, designed to facilitate technology-based applied research and economic growth in New York; as well as encourage applied research collaboration and innovation with industry.
Several of NYSTAR’s programs are on track for reduced funding next fiscal year — including the Faculty Development grants program, which awards money to researchers who teach at academic centers. Funding for that program will dip by $40,000, or from $1.8 million to $1.76 million.
However, a NYSTAR spokeswoman told BioRegion News the program’s reduced budget would not force the agency to lower its maximum faculty development grant below the current $500,000. NYSTAR reduced the maximum to the current level from $750,000 back in July, as part of an earlier 10-percent rollback in state spending by Paterson [BRN, July 7].
“There could be a possibility that we are going to make fewer awards with less money, but our feeling is, the maximum should remain at $500,000,” NYSTAR spokeswoman Janette Rondo said.
NYSTAR’s cuts will not affect supercomputer operations, Rondo said, since the state long ago shelled out $70 million toward creating supercomputing systems at RPI as well as Stony Brook University, part of the State University of New York. That money came from the state’s capital, not operating budget, she added.
NYSTAR was among state agencies directed by Gov. David Paterson’s administration to submit spending plans projecting how much they will need for existing top-priority or “core mission” programs next year. In addition, the plans required agencies to rate their program as having a low, medium and high importance to their core missions.

NC Biotechnology Center E-Mails Members Survey Seeking Corporate Info
The state-funded North Carolina Biotechnology Center last week e-mailed a survey to the 505 bioscience companies listed in its company directory, BioSciNC, seeking updated information on the size of the state’s life-sciences cluster, and the employers that comprise it.
The survey asks respondents to verify their contact information, employee count, and categories describing what work is done at the site, and provide a short description of their operations. Employers completing the survey will be included in the company directory on the biotech center’s web site.
About 15 percent of the recipients have already responded to the survey, which was e-mailed on Nov. 3, the center said, adding: “The categories are used as search terms when users search the company directory and the short description and company contact information appears in the online and printed directory.”
North Carolina enjoyed the third-largest biotechnology community in the US the last time Ernst & Young examined the nation’s bioclusters back in 2006 — a once-annual survey that the firm has not updated for two years.
North Carolina employers with questions on the survey can contact the center by dialing (919) 549-8880, or e-mailing the center here.

Citing Wage Dispute with Genzyme, Unions Criticize $5.2M State Grant Toward Expansion of Framingham, Mass., Plant
A group of Massachusetts labor unions have expressed anger about the state life sciences agency’s recent approval of a $5.2 million grant to the city of Framingham toward infrastructure for the $250 million expansion of a Genzyme biomanufacturing plant there, the Boston Herald reported.
The unions have alleged that Genzyme, the biotech giant headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., has hired contractors who violate state laws and standards by not paying prevailing wages or providing health insurance. “This kind of corporate welfare just isn’t right,” Michael Monahan, business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 103, told the newspaper.
However, Genzyme spokesman John Lacey told the Herald that the unions’ claims were incorrect and that the company only hires contractors who comply with the state’s labor laws. Lacey said Genzyme scrutinizes its contractors to make sure they pay competitive wages and provide state-mandated health care, adding: “We want to be sure we hire ethical contractors.”
The grant was awarded Oct. 31 by the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, the agency charged with overseeing the $1 billion, 10-year Life Sciences Initiative signed into law by Gov. Deval Patrick in June [BRN, Nov. 3; June 16]. The law included an earmark of $12.9 million for Framingham toward infrastructure costs associated with the Genzyme expansion. 
On Friday, Framingham got the first of a two-part grant. The $5.2 million award will be used for the first phase of infrastructure work — the replacement of a wastewater pump station along with ancillary pipe work within a technology park near the city’s border with Southboro, Mass.
Framingham expects to use a second grant of $7.7 million grant to connect the new pump station to the community’s central pipes, Framingham Public Works Deputy Director Tom Holder told the newspaper.
Genzyme and Framingham have said the state spending will yield significant benefits — namely 300 new manufacturing jobs to be created within the next year, and improved water and sewer systems that will benefit other employers in the area as well as the biotech company.
The unions made their dispute with Genzyme public in September, when more than 100 pipefitters, electricians and plumbers picketed outside a $125 million science building recently completed by the company, as its CEO Henri Termeer was celebrating the facility’s grand opening. Patrick and US Rep. Ed Markey (D-Malden) were invited to attend the event, but did not attend.
At the time, one Patrick aide told the MetroWest Daily News of Framingham the governor was spending additional time with aides on the state’s economic situation — while another aide acknowledged Patrick shared the union’s concerns.
Markey told the Daily News via e-mail: “I decided that it would not be appropriate in light of ongoing concerns raised by some labor unions about the construction and maintenance issues. I hope that these issues can be resolved quickly to the satisfaction of all concerned, and I stand ready to assist in any way that I can.”

Discovery Laboratories Reports $500K Equipment Loan from Pennsylvania DCED
Discovery Laboratories, a Warrington, Pa., developer focused on treating respiratory disease in premature infants, received $500,000 from Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development Machinery and Equipment Loan Fund in September to finance the purchase of machinery and equipment, the company disclosed Nov. 4 in its results for the third quarter of this year.
The company said it listed $444,000 of the loan as a long-term liability as of Sept. 30.

Connecticut Innovations Invests $300K in Laboratory Equipment Developer
Connecticut Innovations, the state’s quasi-public authority for technology investment and innovation development, has invested $300,000 in FMP Products through its Eli Whitney Fund.
FMP, which has operations in Greenwich, Conn., and New Milford, Conn., is a developer of laboratory automation equipment and software designed to boost the productivity of researchers in the pharmaceutical, industrial, educational and government sectors.
Peter Longo, president and executive director of CI, cited the business background of FMP’s president and founder, serial entrepreneur Thomas Friedlander, in a press release: “His prior experience in starting and operating a successful bioscience company – one in which CI invested – as well as the strong market interest in FMP’s products gave us the confidence to invest.”
In addition to CI providing early-stage capital to FMP, Pauline Murphy, managing director of investments for CI, will provide the company with ongoing business guidance and support by serving on the company’s board of directors. 

Thirteenth Annual MITX Awards Recognize New England's Best Interactive Technology Achievements
The Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange has announced the finalists for MITX awards in Biotechnology/Pharmaceuticals, one of 33 awards categories in which 127 finalists have been named in its 13th annual awards competition, recognizing achievements in the development and implementation of interactive technologies in New England.
Awards will be presented on Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. at the Boston Marriott Copley Place. The finalists:
  • ConforMIS website redesign, created by Boston Interactive for ConforMIS.
  • MS LifeLines magazine and newsletter: A patient retention campaign, by Cramer for EMD Serono.
  • web site redesign, by Greater Than One for Hologic.
  • Veramyst product launch, by OTOi, a One to One Interactive Company, for GlaxoSmithKline.
  • The Lab of Tomorrow flash microsite, by PixelMEDIA for Charles River Laboratories.
  • Invitrogen 2007 Online Annual report, by Weymouth Design for Invitrogen Corp.
Nominees are judged by a committee of more than 100 individuals from various disciplines, including industry analysts, academia, creative directors, chief technology officers, webmasters, developers, producers, content providers, marketing executives, strategists, and media members.
To learn more about the awards or purchase tickets, click here.

The Scan

Study Reveals New Details About Genetics of Major Cause of Female Infertility

Researchers in Nature Medicine conducted a whole-exome sequencing study of mote than a thousand patients with premature ovarian insufficiency.

Circulating Tumor DNA Shows Potential as Biomarker in Rare Childhood Cancer

A study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology has found that circulating tumor DNA levels in rhabdomyosarcoma may serve as a biomarker for prognosis.

Study Recommends Cancer Screening for Dogs Beginning Age Seven, Depending on Breed

PetDx researchers report in PLOS One that annual cancer screening for dogs should begin by age seven.

White-Tailed Deer Harbor SARS-CoV-2 Variants No Longer Infecting Humans, Study Finds

A new study in PNAS has found that white-tailed deer could act as a reservoir of SARS-CoV-2 variants no longer found among humans.