The biotech industry tries to move forward

Published

April 28, 2022




from

Tim Thornton


L to D: Marc Nelson, director of economic development at Roanoke;  Erin Burcham, director of the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council;  Amy White, dean of science, technology, and mathematics at Virginia Western Community College;  Brett Malone, president and CEO of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center.  Photo by Don Petersen

L to D: Marc Nelson, director of economic development at Roanoke; Erin Burcham, director of the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council; Amy White, dean of science, technology, and mathematics at Virginia Western Community College; Brett Malone, president and CEO of the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center. Photo by Don Petersen

With over $ 25 million, almost all taxpayers’ money, a partnership the partnership between government, business and non-profit organizations plans to build an accelerator for biotech startups in Roanoke Valley.

Advocates say the initiative will create 250 jobs across 25 new startups over five years, generating $ 20 million in annual salaries as 30,000 square feet of the former pediatric space at the Carilion Clinic (the location has not yet been made public). it is transformed into laboratories, innovation studios and office space.

Virginia Tech’s Corporate Research Center announced last December the addition of a 2,500-square-foot pilot laboratory space in Blacksburg. Advocates say those labs will create 125 jobs in five years, with an average salary of $ 80,000.

Through cash, property, studies and programming, the partners intend to contribute $ 10 million for the Roanoke project and the coalition is seeking about $ 15.7 million from the state. In early April, the funding was included in the yet-to-be-approved state budget.

“It is important for the City of Roanoke, for the Corporate Research Center, to advance new life science programs and economics,” says state Senator John Edwards, D-Roanoke.

It’s about keeping companies and talent in the region, says Erin Burcham, executive director of the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council.

“We have worked so hard to lay the foundation for biotechnology from an educational point of view,” says Burcham. Virginia Western Community College, Radford University, Virginia Tech, and VTC’s Fralin Biomedical Research Institute are churning out graduates with biotech skills, Burcham says, and some of these alumni are building companies that can’t find the facilities they need. to grow.

“This project is about the next step in the pipeline of our entire biotech ecosystem,” says Brett Malone, president and CEO of Virginia Tech’s Corporate Research Center. Malone’s three biotech startups depended on subletting laboratory space from CRC companies.

Malone has also worked on Johnson & Johnson’s JLabs, which offers resources and mentoring to healthcare-related startups and will be part of the projects.

“This gives the opportunity for all this extraordinary talent that we are training in the region to stay,” says Burcham.

It is vital to diversify the region’s economy, he adds, and it will not happen without help. ‚ÄúStarting a commercialized biotech company is really expensive. It’s practically impossible unless they have someone to back them up with a lot of capital. ”

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