Bioscience Companies and Projects
Established in 2013, the Connecticut Bioscience Innovation Fund (CBIF) is a $200 million fund created to reduce the time-to-market of new bioscience breakthroughs in the state. On the other hand, Winstanley Enterprises LLC is planning to build a 500,000 square feet of laboratory and life-sciences incubation space in Connecticut to meet the growing demand for such spaces.
- The Bioscience Connecticut initiative was enacted in 2011 and was a program geared at positioning the state as one of the front runners in the growing bioscience industry. Making strategic investments in the University of Connecticut Health Center was seen as a major catalyst for this initiative.
- The program consisted of two major components — infrastructure expansion and renovation, as well as programs to make quality healthcare more accessible.
- The major infrastructural projects included an incubator lab addition, main building research lab renovations, academic building addition and renovations, clinical building and existing hospital renovations, and others. The last of the projects was completed in 2019.
- The incubator lab addition included a 28,000 net square foot addition onto the Cell & Genome Sciences Building. This more than doubled the total incubator lab space. UConn’s Technology Incubation Program (TIP), "supports new Connecticut businesses by leasing space and equipment to start-up technology and bio-medical companies." The range of resources available to startups includes (taken verbatim):
- Incubator facilities featuring wet labs and access to instrumentation, especially with negotiating agreements between the startups and the university.
- Customized business planning and mentoring, "including accountants and lawyers to help with issues important to start-up companies"
- Technically trained student employees and graduates to work as part-time employees and interns.
- Collaboration with scientific experts and access to the University's research collection.
- The main building research lab renovations by the BioScience Connecticut initiative refurbished "200,000 square feet of the existing 283,000 square feet of labs on 7 floors in two successive projects." The projects altogether created open lab areas that have promoted more research collaborations on projects with intersecting research interests; this has further made it possible to recruit and retain faculty and research staff.
- Some of the major research and collaborations taking place in the newly renovated labs include studies on Albright Hereditary Osteodystrophy and Osteogenesis Imperfecta; NMRbox facility, which is a "national Biomedical Technology Research Resource supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that develops software used in the determining protein structures which aid in understanding human disease and in drug development," and many others.
- Part of the BioScience Connecticut was also to expand the academic spaces of the UConn School of Medicine and School of Dental Medicine to attract more students to come study medicine and dentistry in the state. The structural changes were designed such that they supported the school's new MDelta curriculum, which "reflects current practices in health care, focusing more on team-based learning, and less on lecture-style coursework." Some of the additions include an Academic Rotunda, eight new classrooms, and informal gathering spaces/lounges.
- In addition to the renovations and physical additions, Bioscience Connecticut also facilitated the following programmatic initiatives:
- Recruiting 50 new basic scientists and clinician-scientists.
- Expanding the UConn School of Medicine and the UConn School of Dental Medicine class sizes by 30%.
- "Loan forgiveness program for UConn Medical School graduates who pursue careers in primary care in Connecticut."
- "Supporting the development of a comprehensive cancer center to expand clinical trials and advance patient care at multiple sites in the Hartford region."
- The development of a primary care institute, which is "intended to increase the number of primary care providers in the state by engaging in research and training to facilitate the effective delivery of primary care."
- "Developing a health disparities institute sponsored by UConn that will enhance research and the delivery of care to the minority and medically underserved populations of the state."
Connecticut Bioscience Innovation Fund and Connecticut Bioscience Facilities Fund
- Established in 2013, the Connecticut Bioscience Innovation Fund (CBIF) is a $200 million fund created to reduce the time-to-market of new bioscience breakthroughs in the state. The fund is expected to last between 2013 and 2023.
- New startups and budding businesses may apply for "secured convertible loans or equity." On the other hand, colleges, universities, and non-profits may, however, apply for "royalty-bearing grant funding up to $500,000."
- The requirements are simple: the company must have a major presence in Connecticut or willing to move there; must be currently developing new technology, and must not have recurring revenue that is up to $2 million.
- Startups affiliated with bigger companies or controlled by owners of the same are not equally eligible for the funds.
- Priority is given to "applications showing strong collaboration across disciplines/industries and collaboration between academia and the for-profit sector as well as those that leverage external funds (e.g., NIH funding, founders’ investment, angels, strategic partners, and other co-investors)."
- On the other hand, the Connecticut Bioscience Facilities Fund (CBFF) seeks to provide funding to bioscience startups looking to construct wet laboratory and related space. The fund size is $46 million and is managed by Connecticut Innovations.
- Both companies already operating in Connecticut or those willing to move are eligible.
- The CBFF financing can take different forms and terms and is typically tailored to the specific needs of the companies; "the fund typically invests between $0.5 million to $5 million."
New Laboratory and Life-Sciences Incubation Space
- Winstanley Enterprises LLC is planning to build a 500,000 square feet of laboratory and life-sciences incubation space in Connecticut. The new facility will be located in downtown New Haven.
- It is expected that once the project is done, there would be 100,000 square feet devoted to incubation purposes "for life-sciences enterprises that have advanced beyond the bare-bones (one or two employees) startup stage and have begun to hire workers who need more laboratory and office space to grow their companies."
- The remaining space will serve as a regular office and meeting space for general purposes.
- The proposed incubator will be managed by a third-party and would provide services such as educational programming, networking opportunities, while also serving as a leasing agent and property manager.
- Considering that the "bioscience incubator facilities that already exist in the state, including in Farmington, are largely fully occupied," this project could be pivotal to the industry's future growth.
Connecticut Bioscience Pipeline
- This program was borne out of a partnership between the State's Connecticut Innovations and the Bioscience Innovation Fund, and three other universities — Yale University, the University of Connecticut, and Quinnipiac University.
- The program started in 2019, has a two-year tenure and looks to share $1 million over the tenure, with qualified companies receiving up to $30,000 to "help them commercialize your biomedical technology innovation (medical devices, diagnostics, and health information technology)."
- Applications are accepted twice each year, with the next round of application due by May 16 and October 19, 2020.
- The grant is open to anyone "part of an established company, student team or faculty associated with a Connecticut university."
Connecticut United for Research Excellence (CURE) Innovation Commons
- The Innovation Commons is one of the newest incubators that seeks to increase talent retention, spur job creation, and help build high-value sustainable businesses in Connecticut's bioscience industry. The founding partners of the initiative include Pfizer, the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), and BioCT.
- Asides the founding partners, there are also additional private sector sponsors such as Airgas, American Laboratory Trading (ALT), Cantor Colburn LLP, Comcast Business, and many more. The sponsors "provide an exceptional foundation of intellectual capital and service infrastructure."
- Pfizer donated the 24,000 square foot facility located in the southeast of the state; the DECD provided a grant of $4.2 million to renovate the space.
- The incubator provides services such as back-office support, mentoring, as well as facilities like labs, offices, co-working spaces, and event and meeting spaces.
- About 25 companies are operating in the incubator presently, including Flocksy, Enrich Therapeutics, OncoArendi Therapeutics, and Assembly Biosciences.
The Bioscience Academic and Career Pathway Initiative (BioPath)
- The BioPath initiative is a partnership between the City of New Haven and Southern Connecticut State University aimed at helping the region maintain its status as a "leader in bioscience by delivering specialized education, applied research, and promotional events in order to generate a pipeline of highly-skilled, well-educated citizens and workers."
- Biology, chemistry, and computer science are the core departments within the initiative.
- Through the program, the city hopes to increase interest and participation in bioscience by providing quality education and resources that will equip them for a 21st-century bioscience workforce.
- Based on the BioPath initiative, Southern Connecticut State University "has developed a range of innovative programs including a BS in biotechnology, revised biochemistry concentration, experiential learning programs including internships, project-based learning, and industry-academic fellowships."
- As part of the new BS in biotechnology program, students are expected to complete an internship with a biotechnology or bioscience company as part of their requirements.
"Major" in the context of this research has been taken as programs and initiatives that showed up in multiple resources highlighting the strides the State of Connecticut has made in the area of growing its bioscience industry. Also, the research team did not find any program that was particularly or single-handedly championed by the private sector. Rather, what we found were programs and initiatives borne out of partnerships between the public, private, and educational parties.