Nov. 9-15, 2001
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U.Va. hub for biotechnology
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U.Va. hub for biotechnology

By Charlotte Crystal

Emerging Technology Center
Fred Missile
Construction of the Emerging Technology Center at North Fork will be completed in December.

Construction of a new $4.4 million research building, the Emerging Technology Center is nearing completion at the University of Virginia Research Park at North Fork as managers wrap up agreements to establish new research facilities for two biotech firms and create laboratory space for U.Va. researchers.

“The Emerging Technology Center provides an exciting new opportunity for technology transfer between U.Va. researchers and industry,” said Robert E. Burnett, professor of chemistry and director of university-industry research relations. “In addition to offering flexible laboratory space that will help attract and house new research enterprises, the University will benefit by an increase in student internships and new employment opportunities for graduate students, local professionals and faculty spouses.”

Research park officials have signed agreements with two new tenants this fall.

Biotage Inc., a subsidiary of Dyax Corp., a biopharmaceutical company based in Cambridge, Mass., has acquired 7.1 acres for $750,000 on the North Fork site to build a 50,000-square-foot facility. The two-story building will house the company’s worldwide headquarters, along with research and development operations and some product assembly and test functions. The company makes systems and consumable products that purify drugs during the pharmaceutical discovery and clinical trial process.

Also, MDS Proteomics Inc., a subsidiary of MDS Inc., Canada’s largest health and life sciences company, has signed a five-year lease for 15,000 square feet of space in the research park’s new Emerging Technology Center.

MDS Proteomics focuses on changing the drug discovery process by combining biology, mass spectrometry and high-throughput supercomputing to identify and select superior drug targets. The North Fork facility complements other MDS Proteomics’ research operations in Toronto, Boston and Odense, Denmark.

In addition, Spinner Technologies Inc., a for-profit subsidiary of the U.Va. Patent Foundation designed to help U.Va. faculty “spin off” new companies from their research, also is negotiating a five-year lease for 1,800 square feet of space in the Emerging Technology Center, said Robert S. MacWright, executive director of the U.Va. Patent Foundation. Primarily securing lab space, the Spinner agreement includes access to conference space and other building amenities, such as fiber-optic connections and specialized hazardous material storage space.

The Emerging Technology Center is the first of its kind for the University’s research parks, said Tim R. Rose, chief executive officer of the U.Va. Foundation, which manages the University’s real estate holdings.

Foundation officials met with University scientists and researchers nearly two years ago to discuss researchers’ needs for small amounts of lab space, Rose said. Researchers sought flexible space that could be expanded over time, was available at a reasonable cost and leasable for shorter-than-usual periods. The Emerging Technology Center is an effort to respond to those needs, he said.

The center will offer a total of 40,000 square feet of leasable space. While five- to 10-year leases are common in commercial real estate, the center will offer terms ranging from one to 10 years. Developers also worked to keep a lid on costs to make the space affordable for fledgling businesses, Rose said.

“We hope this will be the first of many such facilities that will strengthen Charlottesville’s entrepreneurial spirit. The companies we hope to attract will be clean, high-tech, research-oriented companies with ties to the University that will provide high-paying, skilled jobs,” said Bruce B. Stouffer, U.Va. Foundation director of real estate development.


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of the University of Virginia

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