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UT Southwestern's BioCenter driving biotech, medical innovation in North Texas

DALLAS April 1, 2010 BioCenter at Southwestern Medical District offers a springboard to drive biomedical innovation in North Texas to business operations, from earliest stage startups exploring bold new ideas to established companies needing an entire custom-designed floor to bring products to fruition.

BioCenter provides a vital resource for commercial development of discoveries made at UT Southwestern Medical Center and elsewhere so that these advances can ultimately be available to benefit patients.

"We anticipate that BioCenter will become an engine for development of innovative treatments and medical device technologies that will fill unmet patient needs. At the same time, it will be a dynamic catalyst for the creation of new industries in the Metroplex, employing highly skilled workers," said Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, president of UT Southwestern.

The first of four planned buildings officially opened today on the 13-acre biotech park site, located on UT Southwestern's East Campus at Inwood and Forest Park roads. State and local government officials and business leaders attended the ribbon-cutting. Two tenants have already signed up for places in BioCenter, and negotiations are in progress with several additional prospective tenants, said Dr. Dennis Stone, vice president for technology development at UT Southwestern.

The city of Dallas has been an important partner in the launch of BioCenter, and relocated an existing vehicle maintenance center to make the current space available for construction.

BioCenter was one of nine Dallas-area companies and organizations to receive Momentum Awards in 2009 from the Dallas Regional Chamber. BioCenter received the Technology Catalyst Award, which is presented to a company or organization working to develop and encourage new technology that yields economic growth.

"We're in an active recruitment mode for bringing in companies," Dr. Stone said. "We are seeking companies that are complementary to research and clinical activities at UT Southwestern. That is the main driver for why a company would want to locate in this facility. The ability to collaborate with UT Southwestern's top-tier scientists, as well as access to the world-class research facilities on our campus, sets BioCenter apart from other incubator-type facilities."

The technology development group is in discussions with a number of companies, including local businesses with interests in medical device technologies, West Coast groups interested in establishing a drug development consortium, and companies based in Hong Kong and Israel.

"The fact that most of these companies are from elsewhere is the norm for units such as ours," Dr. Stone said. "If you look nationwide, and in Canada and Asia, about 85 percent of the occupants of a university-associated commercialization center come from elsewhere to draw on university intellectual and technical resources."

Dr. Stone stressed the flexibility of the facility, which offers tenants the opportunity to custom configure their space. BioCenter also has amenities such as laboratory space, climate-control capabilities, an on-site water plant, and a bioinstrumentation unit where faculty and tenant companies can custom-fabricate instruments and devices.

"The bioinstrumentation facility is a key component for us, because increasingly we are interested in medical devices," Dr. Stone said. "New ideas often come from our surgeons, who have extraordinarily busy schedules and don't have the time to advance their technologies. Having an in-house development unit is a very important resource."

Also located within BioCenter is a small incubator unit called Pipeline, a resource center that can house early-stage businesses and spinoff companies headed by faculty members. Companies that use Pipeline have access to common laboratory equipment, outfitted labs and the bioinstrumentation unit, as well as office space and cubicles. Experts also are on hand to assist with financing issues and business plans.

BioCenter received a five-year, $750,000 grant from Dallas-based AT&T in 2008 to foster development of Pipeline, which includes supporting entrepreneurship and faculty education about business issues. As part of this program, the BioCenter has an entrepreneur-in-residence to help facilitate these efforts.

"BioCenter should be the first stop for individuals and companies with new ideas to explore in the biomedical industry," Dr. Stone said.


Contact: Amanda Siegfried
UT Southwestern Medical Center

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