Senator Alesi Helps Secure Funding For The Rochester Bioenterprise Center

James S. Alesi

July 25, 2007

The University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) today announced the dedication of a new facility that will support the development of early stage biotechnology and life science companies. The facility, titled the Rochester BioEnterprise Center, will play an important role in regional economic growth and is supported by $2.5 million in funding from New York’s Gen*NY*sis program.

"As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business, I am extremely pleased that our entire Rochester Senate delegation was able to step-up and providing funding for this important facility," said Senator Jim Alesi. "This is a perfect example of the best use of public funding as an investment in economic development. The opening of the Rochester BioEnterprise Center represents a significant step towards establishing the Rochester region as the epicenter for biotechnology technologies. This center will not only help provide early-stage companies access to much needed lab and office space, but it will also create jobs and promote regional economic development."

"Rochester’s research community is a rich source of innovation, particularly in the area of biomedical science," said Joel Seligman, president of the University of Rochester. "This new facility will serve as an engine for economic growth by enabling local entrepreneurs to harness these opportunities to develop new technologies that will improve health and lead to the creation of new companies, jobs, and investments here in Rochester."

The University has converted a former Wyeth laboratory building at 77 Ridgeland Road in Henrietta into 40,000 square feet of office and laboratory space. The Rochester BioEnterprise Center will be the first technology incubator in the region with the wet lab facilities that are required by biotechnology companies and will serve as an important link in the chain of resources necessary to promote and foster the growth of early stage life science companies on a regional scale.

"The University of Rochester Medical Center has a strong track record of converting new technologies into commercial ventures and keeping those companies – and the jobs they create – here in greater Rochester," said Bradford C. Berk, M.D., Ph.D., CEO of URMC. "The Rochester BioEnterprise Center will help accelerate this trend by providing a place to nurture these new companies in an environment that strengthens both their science and their commercial potential."

Approximately 5 to 15 new "bio" ventures emerge in the Rochester region each year and it is anticipated that these numbers will grow as the region becomes more entrepreneurial and local universities generate more innovations with commercial potential. Early stage biotechnology ventures often require long periods of development and validation and in many instances must conduct this work with limited financial investment. Consequently, a critical need for these companies is access to facilities which keep overhead at a minimum. Incubators serve as a temporary home for new companies and allow them to transition from the early research and development phase to active commercialization while operating in an environment that links these entrepreneurs with services, advisors, and potential clients and investors.

The Rochester BioEnterprise Center will provide early stage companies access to cost-effective lab and office space, shared administrative resources, production and storage areas, and access to specialized equipment such as bio-safety hoods, sinks, safety showers, a glassware washer, and an autoclave.

The facility will be managed by High Tech Rochester (HTR), which also manages the Lennox Tech Enterprise Center which caters to non-bio, technology-based clients. HTR will extend its business support services – business and marketing plan development, entrepreneurs-in-residence, and networking with potential clients and investors – to BioEnterprise Center clients. By bringing these professional support services and specialized facilities under one roof the BioEnterprise Center will play a critical role in regional economic development.

"The successful transition from research to a market focus is critical to a biotechnology company’s future prospects," said Paul Wetenhall, president of HTR. "By bringing the technical facilities and business building services together in one building we can help these companies accelerate their growth and financial success. The Center will also be an important asset to attract entrepreneurs and companies to relocate to Rochester."

The Rochester BioEnterprise Center will be open to any qualified early stage life science, biotech, chemical, pharmaceutical, medical, dental, or health service company that needs wet lab facilities, regardless of its relationship to the University. Three clients are confirmed and have already moved into the building: URMC Labs (laboratory services), NaturalNano (nanomaterials), Egenics (cancer therapeutics). Four additional prospects are engaged in serious discussion and are likely to join the Center by September.

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