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Thermo Fisher Scientific, Golden LEAF Biomanufacturing Training & Education Center, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation, Lancaster Laboratories, Biomira, Max Planck Society

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Report: Thermo Fisher Secures Tax Rebate to Build BioCenter in Utah
 
Salt Lake City’s Deseret Morning News reported last week that Thermo Fisher Scientific plans to build an $11.4 million “BioCenter” in Logan, Utah, to manufacture containers and other products used in life science research and bioprocessing.
 
The announcement followed the state’s approval of a tax rebate of up to $2.74 million over 10 years to secure the project, the paper reported.
 
Thermo Fisher expects the 37,000-square-foot facility to be completed by the fall of 2008. It will replace and expand an existing operation in Logan and is the first of a three-phase plan to construct a 94,000-square-foot BioCenter over four years.
 
The new facility will have an administration building, sera and liquid-media processing facility, powdered-media facility, warehouse, and a bioprocessing facility.
 
The initial project is expected to create 75 new jobs, both in production and management functions, with additional jobs created as the facility is expanded, according to the report.
 

 
North Carolina Opens Biotech Training Facility
 
North Carolina State University last week opened a biotechnology training center in an effort to give the state “a distinct advantage in the rapidly growing and globally competitive biotechnology industry,” according to a university statement.
 
The 82,500-square-foot Golden LEAF Biomanufacturing Training & Education Center, or BTEC, was designed to provide hands-on training for students as well as industry employees and is expected to serve up to 2,000 students annually when fully operational.
 
The facility is shared by NCSU, the Community College BioNetwork, and the BioNetwork Capstone Center and also collaborates with the Biotechnology Research Institute and Technology Enterprise, or BRITE, at NC Central University.
 
BTEC, BRITE and BioNetwork are part of the North Carolina Biomanufacturing and Pharmaceutical Training Consortium, “an educational partnership to meet the workforce needs of the state’s life sciences industry,” which also includes the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, industry, and the NC Department of Commerce.
 
North Carolina’s biotechnology industry currently employs 48,000 people, according to NCSU, which also cited a recent study by the Milken Institute that projects the state will “lead the nation in percentage growth of new biopharmaceutical jobs through 2014.”
 
Golden LEAF, a non-profit foundation that invests in long-term economic development projects in the state, provided $70 million in startup funding for the consortium, and the state’s biotech industry — including Biogen Idec, Diosynth Biotechnology, Novo Nordisk Pharmaceutical Industries, Novozymes, Talecris Biotherapeutics and Wyeth Vaccines — contributed an estimated $13 million of in-kind support such as equipment donations and employee time for facility design and engineering at BTEC.
 
BTEC will offer a pilot program this fall with seven courses and will increase to nearly a dozen in the spring.
 

 
OMRF Gains $15M in State Funding for $125M Expansion Project
 
Oklahoma Gov. Brad Henry announced last week that the Oklahoma Opportunity Fund, a state economic development organization, has allocated $15 million to assist the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation’s proposed $125 million expansion project.
 
OMRF is building a new research tower on its Oklahoma City campus, an initiative that is projected to create 300 new jobs in the region.
 
“By assisting the foundation with its latest expansion, our state will lay the foundation for even greater scientific accomplishments and, in the process, reap additional economic benefits for generations to come,” Henry said in a statement.
The eight-story research tower will be built at 825 NE 14th Street in Oklahoma City on the OMRF campus. The 195,000 square foot addition will nearly double OMRF’s current scientific and administrative offices.
 
Construction is scheduled to begin next year.
 
“OMRF’s labs now are full, and without the new tower, we could not grow,” said Stephen Prescott, OMRF’s president, in a statement.
 
OMRF, which secured $30 million in grants in 2006, estimated that the new research tower, when complete, will help generate an additional $21 million in grants each year.
 
“We will recoup the state’s investment in no time at all. We will also send the signal that Oklahoma is serious about establishing itself as the Research Capital of the Plains,” Henry said.
 

 
Thermo’s Lancaster Labs to Create 105 New Jobs at Expanded Penn. Facility
 
Lancaster Laboratories, an analytical services subsidiary of Thermo Fisher Scientific, plans to create 105 new jobs by expanding its Lancaster County operations, Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell announced at a groundbreaking ceremony for the facility last week.
 
"The fact that this company chose to expand its headquarters operations here is a testament to Pennsylvania's competitive business environment, as well as our position as a global leader in the biosciences," Rendell said in a statement
 
Lancaster Labs plans to construct a 50,000-square-foot building that will connect to its existing, 175,000-square-foot, three-story building on the south campus of its Upper Leacock Township headquarters. The expansion is scheduled for completion in late 2008.
 
Lancaster Labs currently employs more than 880 staffers, 700 of whom are in Pennsylvania, Rendell said.
 
"We anticipate especially strong demand for testing in support of biotechnology and new drug products," said Wilson Hershey, president of Lancaster Labs. "The additional space will allow us to move parts of our existing pharmaceutical and biopharmaceutical testing operations and also to develop a new reception area that will serve the entire complex."
 
The project was managed by the Governor's Action Team, an economic development unit that works with businesses that represent “significant investment and job creation opportunities” for the state.
 
The team helped Lancaster Labs secure a $560,000 investment package from the state that includes a grant of up to $250,000 through the Opportunity Grant Program, up to $100,000 in customized job training assistance, and up to $210,000 in job creation tax credits.
 
The company agreed to retain 645 existing positions as part of the project.
 

 
Biomira to Relocate Headquarters from Canada to US
 
Biomira said last week that it plans to change its jurisdiction of incorporation from the federal jurisdiction of Canada to the state of Delaware.
 
Under the plan, which is subject to shareholder and court approval, Biomira will relocate to the US by creating a holding corporation based in Delaware, Biomira Corporation, which will be the ultimate parent corporation of a successor corporation of the current Biomira and its subsidiaries.
 
Biomira Corporation plans to establish its headquarters in the Seattle, Wash., region. The company is currently headquartered in Edmonton, Alberta.
 
"We believe that reincorporation in Delaware is the right strategic move to increase long-term shareholder value," said Robert Kirkman, president and CEO of Biomira. "This move is intended to raise our profile in the US financial markets, with the goals of increasing the visibility of our exciting product pipeline among US institutional investors and providing access to a larger pool of investment capital. Additionally, we believe that relocating to a major biotechnology center such as Seattle will provide greater opportunity to attract and retain key personnel."
 
Kirkman added that the relocation of the company’s headquarters “is not expected to result in a significant change in our operations in Edmonton,” and that the company plans to maintain its workforce there. He said that a “significant portion” of the company’s operations, particularly related to its small-molecule development programs, is already in the US, “and we believe that our Seattle area location will help us to attract the additional staff we need to advance these programs as rapidly and successfully as possible."
 

 
Palm Beach County Earmarks $86.9M To Lure Germany’s Max Planck Institute to Florida
 
Florida's Palm Beach County recently approved $86.9 million for the next 10 years to help establish the first Max Planck Institute in the US.
 
According to a statement from the county, the State of Florida is expected to contribute funds “in the coming weeks” to complete the financing to a total of $190 million, at which time “specific negotiations on the establishment of an institute will take place.”
 
The proposal would create a Max Planck Institute in the life sciences on the Jupiter Campus of Florida Atlantic University, in the neighborhood of the Scripps Research Institute, which opened its doors three years ago.
 
The facility would house three departments and employ 135 researchers.
 
"The Max Planck Florida institute would give us an independent foothold in the world's most important country for science," said Peter Gruss, president of the Max Planck Society, in a statement. "We want to export the Max Planck success model and step up our international activities in Europe, the US, and Asia."

The Scan

Not as High as Hoped

The Associated Press says initial results from a trial of CureVac's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine suggests low effectiveness in preventing COVID-19.

Finding Freshwater DNA

A new research project plans to use eDNA sampling to analyze freshwater rivers across the world, the Guardian reports.

Rise in Payments

Kaiser Health News investigates the rise of payments made by medical device companies to surgeons that could be in violation of anti-kickback laws.

Nature Papers Present Ginkgo Biloba Genome Assembly, Collection of Polygenic Indexes, More

In Nature this week: a nearly complete Ginkgo biloba genome assembly, polygenic indexes for dozens of phenotypes, and more.