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Schwarzenegger Muscles Up $5.6M from Washington for Life Sciences Training
 
California has received a $5.6 million National Emergency Grant from the US Department of Labor to retrain laid-off mortgage and banking industry workers for new careers in the life sciences and other industries deemed by the state to be high-growth and high-demand.
 
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said the grant money would be directed to 12 areas with the highest number of idled workers — namely portions of Alameda, Contra Costa, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Diego, Sonoma, and Stanislaus counties. The state says California's mortgage lending industry has seen more than 8,400 layoffs since July 1, 2007.
 
California and other states qualify for the emergency grants by convincing Washington that economic events have created a sudden need for unemployed worker assistance that cannot be handled with existing state funds.
 

 
Puerto Rico Governor Visits San Diego-Area Life Sciences Attractions
 
Puerto Rico Gov. Anibal Acevedo-Vila last week completed a tour of four San Diego-area life sciences attractions, in a tour designed to further ties between the commonwealth and the region’s life science industry.
 
Acevedo-Vila signed a cooperation agreement with Biocom, the region’s life sciences industry group, during a visit to the group’s offices. He also visited Connect, the technology entrepreneurship program, as well as the facilities of two businesses, Gen-Probe and Biogen Idec.
 
"The synergy between academia and the private sector is something we are trying to replicate," Acevedo-Vila told the North County Times of Escondido, Calif. “We're learning from those who have been very successful, and the San Diego area has a success story.”
 
Puerto Rico has grown a life sciences sector by welcoming the manufacturing operations of pharma and biotech giants eager to capitalize on the commonwealth’s tax breaks for US companies. But recent layoffs involving many of those companies have compelled the commonwealth to broaden its life sciences industry by building a broader coalition of research, drug development, and professional services employers. On the research side, construction is in progress on a cancer center being developed with the Houston-based MD Anderson Cancer Center. 
 
Acevedo-Vila said he plans to return in June, when San Diego hosts the 2008 Biotech Industry Organization Global Convention. BIO named him “Governor of the Year” in 2006.
 

 
Piedmont Triad Research Park President Eyes April Agreement on 60-Acre Redevelopment
 
The Piedmont Triad Research Park expects to come to terms in April with developer Struever Bros. Eccles and Rouse on a plan to redevelop 60 acres of the campus now occupied by buildings vacated about a decade ago by Reynolds American predecessor RJ Reynolds Tobacco, PTRP President Doug Edgeton told an audience at a Feb. 20 meeting of the Greater Winston-Salem (NC) Chamber of Commerce, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.
 
PTRP and SBER have been in talks since the research park selected the Baltimore developer as its developer for redeveloping 2.19 million square feet of space within the park’s northern district. Both parties have discussed transforming the site into a mix of biomedical, residential, and neighborhood retail uses. [BioRegion News, Dec.3, 2007].
 
“We expect to have a major announcement in late March or early April about the north district,” Edgeton told the crowd.  
 
That comment marked the first time Edgeton has publicly discussed a projected timeframe for coming to terms with the developer. Both sides had hoped to have a deal in place by the end of 2007, but have continued to negotiate since New Year’s Day, Edgeton told BRN earlier this month.
 
Struever has already added a page to its web site discussing its goals for the Winston-Salem project: “Transform 1.1 million square feet of the RJ Reynolds historic tobacco warehouses into an urban live-work-play community, with Wake Forest University Health Sciences as the primary driver. Incorporated into the space will be medical laboratory and research space, a variety of residential options and commercial space.”
 
As of earlier this month, the research park housed 41 tenants employing a total 824 people — 468 jobs tied to Wake Forest, which owns PTRP, and 356 corporate staffers, Bill Dean, a director of the research park, told conferees during a presentation at the Wired Bioscience Institute, a Winston-Salem, NC, conference held Feb. 5-6. Tenants include 33 businesses, the largest of which is Targacept; and eight programs of Wake Forest University, including its Institute for Regenerative Medicine.
 

 
West Virginia Authority Sets ‘Final’ Deadline for Incubator, Research Institute Projects
 
The West Virginia Development Authority has set October 2008 completion deadlines for two life sciences projects that were part of a total 47 projects awarded a total $225 million in funding in 2004 from a predecessor agency.
 
The deadlines apply to a biotechnology incubator planned for South Charleston and the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute planned for West Virginia University.
 

 

SensiGen Receives Investment from Michigan Economic Development Corporation

 
The state-sponsored Michigan Economic Development has approved a term loan at 1 percent interest, and undisclosed principal, to gene-based molecular diagnostics company SensiGen for expansion of its operations in Ann Arbor, Mich. MEDC said the company will use the money to hire workers displaced by the closure of Pfizer's Michigan based research facilities.
 
Upon its founding in 2004, SensiGen received an initial $2.6 million from MEDC, and has raised another $1.4 million from public and private investors nationwide.
 

 
Arkansas Economic Development Commission Launching National Marketing Effort
 
The Arkansas Economic Development Commission is preparing to launch a national marketing campaign next month intended to promote the state’s life sciences and other industries, the Baxter (Ark.) Bulletin reported.
Maria Haley, AEDC’s executive director, said the agency will roll out TV commercials on CNN to promote its Targeted Industry Program. The program has identified 15 sectors the agency says will be the focus of its future recruiting efforts. In addition to biosciences, AEDC will target aerospace/aviation, automotive assembly and suppliers, bottled spring water, health and international foods, steel, data centers, information technology and telecommunications, logistics services, alternative energy, “green” or sustainable building materials, nonprofit organization headquarters, global business headquarters, and tourism.
 
AEDC will promote the region’s concentration of research universities, including the University of Arkansas, Arkansas State University, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and UA Little Rock. UAMS Bio-ventures and the Genesis Incubator in Fayetteville offer incubator space, with the Arkansas Bioscience Institute planning construction of an incubator facility at ASU.
 

 
CI Among New Investors in New Haven, Conn., Biotech Firm’s $7M Financing Round
 
Connecticut Innovations, the state’s quasi-public technology investment agency, and Four Seasons Ventures, have become new investors in the $7 million Series A financing round completed by New Haven, Conn., biotechnology firm Affomix. CI and Four Seasons joined founding investor Elm Street Ventures in the financing.
 
Affomix develops technologies for generating and using antibodies against hundreds or even thousands of protein targets in the time normally taken to generate antibodies against one or a few proteins. Its team of founders includes two Yale University professors as well as serial entrepreneurs.
 

 
Ayrshire Biotech Consortium to Create New Generation of Drug Tests

A consortium of three Ayrshire, Scotland, companies will soon start a two-year, £1 million (almost $2 million) project to build next-generation tools for use in drug discovery, after securing undisclosed private investment along with funding by the UK government’s Technology Strategy Board, a public body that promotes technological innovation.

Avanticell Science, an established biotech company located in Auchincruive and a specialist in cell biology and cell culture, will lead the consortium. Avanticell will work with Ayr-based Giltech, which specializes in biomaterials, biodegradables and controlled delivery and Culzean Medical Devices, which designs and manufactures implantable medical products at its Prestwick clean room.

Scottish Enterprise, Scotland’s economic development agency, will support the consortium by working with the companies.

 

 
Indiana EDC Seeks Proposals for Up to $350K in Commercialization Enhancement Grants
 
The Indiana Economic Development Corp. is accepting proposals for its commercialization enhancement program, an initiative that provides up to $350,000 in grant monies to businesses participating in the second phase of the federal government's Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer program.
 
Applicants interested in pursuing the grant funds must have an existing federal Phase II Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Technology Transfer grant that is at least 50 percent expended and apply online by Feb. 29. Details and an application for grant money are available online here.
 
The commercialization enhancement program is funded by the state's 21st Century Research and Technology Fund.
 

 
Marketing Program Offers $100K Prize for Life Science Business Plan Competition
 
Opportunity Houston, the regional economic development marketing program of the public-private Greater Houston Partnership, has donated $100,000 in prize money to the company with the best life science technology business plan in this year’s Rice (University) Business Plan Competition. The money is intended to provide seed funding to launch the winning company in the Houston region.
 
OH has also donated another $100,000 for the best business plan in nanotechnology or any of three other industries: energy and petrochemicals, information technology, and aviation and aerospace. The prize money is similarly pegged toward seed funding.
 
The combined $200,000 in donations elevate the competition’s total prize money to more than $600,000 for the April 3-5 competition, hosted by the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship and the university’s Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Management.
 
Among past winners is the dental device company OrthoAccel, which moved its headquarters from Chicago to Houston after it was acquired by a judge at the 2006 competition. The 2004 winner, ClearCount Medical Solutions, received approval last year from the US Food and Drug Administration to market its radio-frequency identification technology to track surgical sponges. ClearCount received angel funding from Houston investors after competing at Rice.
 
The 2008 Rice Business Plan Competition is open to graduate student teams from any university. Thirty-six teams from the world’s top graduate schools will present in front of more than 160 venture capitalists, angel investors, successful entrepreneurs, and other business leaders. Winners will be announced at an April 5 awards banquet to be held at Houston’s Intercontinental Hotel.
 

 
International Law Firm Opens Silicon Valley, San Francisco Offices
 
The international law firm King & Spalding said it has established an office in Silicon Valley and will open a second California-based office in San Francisco “in the near future” in response to “strong” client demand for legal services.
 
The Silicon Valley office will be located initially in Redwood Shores, and will focus on patent litigation, patent prosecution, emerging company and FDA practices. The San Francisco office will focus on intellectual property, FDA/healthcare, tort litigation, private equity, real estate capital markets, government and internal investigations, business litigation and energy.
 
The Silicon Valley and San Francisco openings represent the firm's fifth and sixth new offices, respectively, in the past 14 months, and its tenth and eleventh worldwide locations. Since December 2006, King & Spalding has opened new offices in Frankfurt, Charlotte, Riyadh, and Dubai.
 
Courtland L. Reichman, King & Spalding's intellectual property practice group leader, is relocating to California from the firm's Atlanta office to become the managing partner of the Silicon Valley and San Francisco offices. Also in connection with the California expansion, two partners from the Menlo Park, California office of Perkins Coie have joined King & Spalding [See BioRegion Newmakers, this issue].

The Scan

Support for Moderna Booster

An FDA advisory committee supports authorizing a booster for Moderna's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine, CNN reports.

Testing at UK Lab Suspended

SARS-CoV-2 testing at a UK lab has been suspended following a number of false negative results.

J&J CSO to Step Down

The Wall Street Journal reports that Paul Stoffels will be stepping down as chief scientific officer at Johnson & Johnson by the end of the year.

Science Papers Present Proteo-Genomic Map of Human Health, Brain Tumor Target, Tool to Infer CNVs

In Science this week: gene-protein-disease map, epigenomic and transcriptomic approach highlights potential therapeutic target for gliomas, and more