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Virginia Hopes to Boost Local Economy with Bioinformatics Incubator

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Virginia’s Fairfax County Economic Development Authority has put up $1.5 million to build an 8,500-square foot bioinformatics incubator. Construction has begun on the facility, which is expected to be up and running by early 2002 and will run for three years.

The FCEDA selected Angle Technology, a UK-based venture management company, to design and run the incubator and select participating companies.

Gerald Gordon, president and CEO of the FCEDA, said that the center should bolster the area’s economy. “We used to think we were recession-proof because we were all federal employees,” Gordon said. When federal layoffs in the 1980s disproved that theory, the FCEDA began efforts to shore up the area’s economic stability.

During the 1990s, information technology companies thrived in the region. Gordon noted that the location of the National Institutes of Health and other bioscience organizations “right over the Potomac river” in Bethesda, Md., should combine with the IT foundation of northern Virginia to make bioinformatics “the next leg of the economic stool.”

The bioinformatics incubator is the FCEDA''s second shot at supporting high-tech business in the region. It opened its 9,000 square foot eIncubator in the summer of 2000 to launch information technology start-ups and currently supports five fledgling companies.

Gordon expects the bioinformatics incubator to host up to 10 companies within 18 months.

The incubator joins another bioinformatics initiative taking root in the region. McLean, Va.-based law firm Pepper Hamilton is heading up the Bio IT Coalition, an effort to promote the growth of the industry in the Washington, DC, area [BioInform 10-01-01].

— BT

 

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