Key Assembly Member: New Governor Unlikely to Revive SUNY Innovation Fund Proposal
David Paterson’s ascension to governor of New York state this week is not likely to revive a proposal that foundered earlier this year because of the state’s budget squeeze — namely setting aside billions of dollars for funding research projects across the State University of New York.
The chair of the Assembly’s education committee told BRN the $3 billion, 10-year Empire State Innovation Fund research grant proposal recommended by the New York State Commission on Higher Education last December [BioRegion News, Jan. 7]never made either the Assembly or state Senate versions of the budget passed earlier this year.
“We have put capital into a variety of projects that would bolster the physical plant at many of the schools and that might in some way be seen as offering some ability for the schools to compete. But there’s no specific dollars for the grants that were envisioned as the Innovation fund,” Assembly member Deborah Glick (D-Manhattan) said in an interview.
Glick spoke March 13, four days before Paterson’s formal March 17 swearing-in as governor. He succeeds Eliot Spitzer, who resigned in disgrace last week after federal attorneys discovered he had paid a global prostitution ring to send a 22-year-old employee from New York to a Washington, DC, hotel for a Feb. 13 tryst.
Glick held out hope that Paterson may revive the idea when the state’s coffers fill again: “The commitment from David Paterson will be at least as strong, if not stronger [than Spitzer] as relates to the public education system, and I think that as the economy strengthens, we’ll have more capacity to focus more resources.”
Glick’s state Senate counterpart, Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), declined comment through a spokeswoman.
“Governor Paterson has a lot of experience in the Legislature and the legislative process. He has an understanding of how to get things done, so we’re very hopeful that he’ll apply those skills,” said Heather Briccetti, vice president for government relations with the Business Council of New York State.
She said the council, New York’s largest business group, is hopeful based in part on Paterson’s numerous travels to the state’s depressed upstate region, on his involvement in the labor-business negotiations that produced a workers’ compensation reform bill enacted by Spitzer last year; and on relationships established with him in years of meetings: “We have great personal relationships with him and his staff, so we’re very optimistic that we’ll be able to continue with our agenda.
“All we can do is look forward and see what happens and hope that he has a smooth transition,” Briccetti added.
June Completion Projected for Scripps Florida Campus, County Official Says
Scripps Florida expects to finish its headquarters and research laboratories in Jupiter, Fla., as soon as June, several months ahead of schedule, Shannon LaRocque, assistant Palm Beach County administrator, told a recent gathering of business leaders, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
But Scripps isn’t taking the speedy construction pace for granted, having set the date for a ribbon-cutting at Feb. 26, 2009.
Whatever the date, Scripps will move into facilities subsidized with $600 million divided between the county and state – which reasoned that Scripps could draw private businesses and their jobs to a region not typically associated with the life sciences.
“We obviously expect a very large return on our investment,” said LaRocque, who oversees Scripps and other county economic development projects. “We are starting to see all the components (we) need to make it successful.”
West Virginia Legislature Passes ‘Bucks for Jobs’ Higher-Education Research Program
West Virginia’s Legislature has agreed to spend $50 million of state surplus money toward hiring for two state universities new top-flight professors specializing in research in the life sciences, provided the schools can raise enough private donations within five years to match the state money.
The measure is expected to be signed into law by Gov. Joe Manchin, who proposed the program during his “State of the State” address in January.
Under the program, called “Bucks for Jobs,” West Virginia University would receive $35 million, while another $15 million would go to Marshall University, provided both schools can match the funds with private donations within five years. If one university can’t match its state money with private dollars, those state bucks go to the other — which still must achieve a similar match.
"This is the economic stimulus package for the state of West Virginia," Marshall University President Stephen Kopp told the Herald-Dispatch of Huntington, WV. "It's not just a one-year injection of funding. It will be felt for a long time."
Marshall would use its money to create a Marshall Institute for Interdisciplinary Research, which would hire nine researchers expected to generate half of their income from grants or contracts within five years.
Marshall University's Center for Business and Economic Research has projected that Marshall's participation alone in Bucks for Jobs could generate 1,100 jobs and $25 million in tax revenue during the first 10 years. The state could see 3,400 jobs and $138 million in taxes during the second decade.
"Bucks for Jobs" is based on the similar “Bucks for Brains” program in Kentucky, credited with creating more than 60 new companies since that program was launched a decade ago.
Solano County, Calif., Hires EDC for First Industry Cluster Profiles
California’s Solano County has awarded a three-year contract to the Solano Economic Development Corp. to prepare profiles of five key industry clusters — including the life sciences — as well as the first Solano County Index of Economic and Community Progress, according to the Reporter of Vacaville, Calif.
Solano EDC will work with Doug Henton, president and co-founder of Collaborative Economics, whose Index of Silicon Valley is designed to measure the economic strength and health of that region. Henton is also a consultant to the California Economic Strategy Panel, California's state economic strategy process linked to innovation, industry clusters, and regions.
Solano EDC’s three-year $484,500 contract includes:
- An annual index, which will include economic, workforce, housing, education, transportation and related indicators for the county and its seven communities.
- A Land Inventory and Absorption Study intended to identify all undeveloped parcels in the county that are zoned commercial and industrial, as well as each parcel’s ability to be redeveloped.
- Key industry profiles of the life sciences and four other industries, all to be created over the next three years.
Seattle’s Accelerator Corp. Launches Seventh New Startup
Seattle’s Accelerator Corp. has launched the seventh company in its portfolio, Recodagen Corp., through a series A financing round by a syndicate of investors that include Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Amgen Ventures, ARCH Venture Partners, OVP Venture Partners and WRF Capital.
Recodagen’s technology was discovered and developed in the laboratory of J. Suzanne Lindsey at Washington State University in Pullman, Wash., and previously at Texas Tech University. The technology is based upon the discovery of a novel class of disease targets. The first lead target the company will pursue appears to facilitate tumor cell invasion and dissemination that result in the lethal part of cancer known as metastasis.
Lindsey will spearhead Recodagen’s research efforts as vice president of discovery. She most recently served as an associate professor in the College of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, at Washington State University. Earlier, she was an assistant professor at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, School of Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Sciences Department.
The deal marks the first time the accelerator has licensed a technology developed at WSU, as well as the first venture-funded startup from the university’s technology commercialization effort.
Recodagen will employ three people and operate from the Accelerator Corp. facility in the Eastlake section of Seattle. Accelerator Corp. is a privately held biotechnology investment and development company.
Business Development Board Asks Martin County, Fla., to Create Subsidy Program
The Business Development Board of Martin County (Fla.) has asked county commissioners to start offering subsidies and other economic incentives to companies in the life sciences and other targeted industries, the Palm Beach Post reported.
The board suggested the county award limited cash grants, show flexibility on impact fees charged to targeted companies, and fast-track approvals for new facilities as part of an "economic stimulus package." The package also calls for the creation of a state-designated enterprise zone that would award tax breaks to companies that create or retain jobs there.
County Commissioner Michael DiTerlizzi, who has worked with the board on its proposal, told the Post he envisioned a fund of $100,000 to $200,000 — a far cry from the millions of dollars showered on life sciences companies by two neighboring counties, St. Lucie and Palm Beach, as well as the state of Florida: "It's time to invest in industry, and good, clean industry — high-tech, high-wage.”
One potential beneficiary could be Boca Raton, Fla.-based Acorn Development, which hopes to start construction in April 2009 on a 35-acre Willoughby Research Park at Cove Road and Willoughby Boulevard. Acorn plans to divide the property into 19 lots, offering them at $12.50 a square foot to start, managing partner Stephen Vitiello told the newspaper.
Acorn bought the land in 2006 for $7.85 million, and planned to develop 90 homes and limited commercial space. The company changed course last year following the housing market slowdown, and the development of life sciences campuses in Port St. Lucie and Jupiter, Fla.
Murdock Donates $2M to NC State, Endowing Three New Research Faculty Posts
Dole Food owner David Murdock has donated $2 million to North Carolina State University, to be combined with $1 million from the North Carolina Distinguished Professors Endowment Trust Fund to endow three new research faculty positions based at the North Carolina Research Campus, the life sciences community he is developing in Kannapolis, NC.
The positions should be filled in the 2008-2009 fiscal year, Steve Lommel, interim director of the institute, said in a statement in which Murdock added: “Nothing is more exciting than having the knowledge of how to accomplish the things you want to accomplish.”
NC State will share a 100,000-square-foot building on the campus with Murdock’s Dole Research Institute, which will open its Core Research Laboratory building next month. The NC State-Dole Research building is set to be completed and opened by Aug. 1.
Florida Research and Development Authority OKs $50K ‘Gap’ Funds for FAU
Florida Atlantic University has received $50,000 in a second round of funding from the Florida Atlantic Research and Development Authority, which operates the FAU research parks in Boca Raton and Deerfield Beach. The money is intended for startups seeking to fill the traditional funding gap between basic research and commercial development.
Awards are made semi-annually, and funding is limited to a maximum of $15,000 per award. The gap fund program committee that reviews and selects award winners consists of industry and business leaders, including a representative from the authority.
FAU received initial funding of $50,000 in late 2006 from the authority.