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INCOGEN Relocates to Virginia to Collaborate with VBI and College of William and Mary

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As part of a new collaboration with researchers from the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute and the College of William and Mary, the Institute for Computational Genomics recently relocated its corporate headquarters from Clemson, SC, to Williamsburg, Va.

INCOGEN CEO Maciek Sasinowski said the company considered other regions of the country for its new location, but a number of factors made Willamsburg the choice for its new home.

Not least among those factors is the company''s bioinformatics collaboration with the Commonwealth of Virginia, the College of William and Mary, and the VBI. The $6.6 million collaboration is funded in part through a $3.2 million grant from the Commonwealth Technology Research Fund to William and Mary, and includes a $1.5 million subcontract to INCOGEN.

The three-year state grant — awarded under the CTRF''s Industry Inducement Program to help attract technology companies to Virginia — will be matched by direct INCOGEN expenditures of $2.4 million, $1 million by William and Mary, and $197,000 from the VBI. The grant will fund bioinformatics equipment and software for William and Mary, internships for undergraduate and graduate students, and joint research with VBI. Virginia successfully competed with North Carolina, Ohio, and Colorado for the project.

The funding will support development of more reliable statistical models for the analysis, communication, and interpretation of data in the life sciences; software that enables the efficient mining of life science databases; and the simulation and modeling of dynamic phenomena in cell biology.

Sasinowski said the project would build upon the $2 million ATP grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology that INCOGEN was awarded in August to develop a web services-based XML bioinformatics framework.

“All of it is related to the research that we''re doing for the NIST project, which is so extensible that it''s really nice to build other collaborations around it.”

The company will have access to William and Mary''s heterogeneous SciClone computational cluster, which will provide “a great test bed for web server-based applications,” Sasinowski said. Part of the grant will be devoted to upgrading the SciClone cluster.

INCOGEN will also help set up a web-based bioinformatics teaching facility at William and Mary.

In addition, the VBI has agreed to be a beta site for the ATP project.

Approximately three to four principal investigators from VBI and four to five PIs from William and Mary will participate in the project.

INCOGEN is temporarily housed in an office building in the Busch Corporate Center, but will eventually become one of the first tenants in New Town''s Discovery Center, which will integrate workforce training, entrepreneurial development, technology transfer and related activities in one building.

INCOGEN plans to expand its workforce from its current 20 employees to 30 in 2002, and as many as 60 in the following two years. Sasinowski noted that this goal is not without its risks, however, and is a departure from the company''s strategy until now of keeping its growth in check.

“If we had thrown ourselves at every project that came our way we could have easily been double the size that we are now. But the last year has been so tremendously bad, many companies just slashed jobs because their revenue wasn''t able to support their burn rate.”

Noting that INCOGEN has “pretty substantial funding for the next three years,” Sasinowski said the company is in a good position to support its next phase of growth.

— BT

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