Patent Foundation nurtures faculty entrepreneurs
Spinner Technologies Inc. secures lab space for
faculty in North Forks Emerging Technology Center
MacWright, executive director of the U.Va. Patent Foundation
researchers who want to turn their lab work into new products
and services face the same challenges as other entrepreneurs
writing a busi-
ness plan, finding affordable space, arranging for interim financing
and setting up organizational systems to handle personnel and
accounting. They also face the additional task of persuading would-be
backers that their still-experimental technology will work.
University of Virginia Patent
Foundation has rolled up its sleeves to help.
its for-profit subsidiary, Spinner Technologies Inc., the Patent
Foundation has signed a five-year lease for about 2,000 square
feet of laboratory space in the new Emerging Technology Center
at the University
of Virginia Research Park at North Fork, about eight miles
north of Charlottesville. Although the building wont be
finished until spring, Spinner already has commitments from researchers
who need the space.
purpose is to help University scientists and engineers bring their
research to the marketplace, said Robert S. MacWright, executive
director of the U.Va. Patent Foundation. We can do this
in a number of ways, including helping to provide the lab space
researchers need to prove their concepts and secure funding.
Emerging Technology Center is a $4.4 million, 40,000-square-foot
research facility. The buildings outer shell was completed
in December and Spinners space is slated to be finished
by March, said Bruce Stouffer, U.Va. Foundation director of real
Spinner space will be set up for two wet labs, research
space that includes sinks and plumbing, Stouffer said. The Spinner
agreement includes access to conference space and other building
amenities, such as fiber optic connections and specialized hazardous
material storage space.
Proteomics Inc., a subsidiary of MDS Inc., Canadas largest
health and life sciences company, also has signed a five-year
lease for 15,000 square feet of space in the new Emerging Technology
Center, leaving about 23,000 square feet still available, Stouffer
a year and a half ago by the Patent Foundation, and endorsed by
the U.Va. Board of Visitors, Spinner is a for-profit subsidiary
designed to help U.Va. faculty especially those in biotechnology
and the medical sciences spin off new companies from their
research, MacWright said.
years ago, we took the first step in supporting faculty startups
by working with local real estate developer Gabe Silverman to
create Corridor 1, which provides young companies with office
space on West Main Street, MacWright said. Since then,
several of the companies have grown enough to move out of Corridor
of the five original Corridor 1 startups have secured outside
funding and moved into other quarters.
Corp., formerly Applied Metacomputing LLC, was founded in 1993
by Andrew Grimshaw and Fritz Knabbe, both professors of computer
science at U.Va. Last spring, AVAKI moved to Cambridge, Mass.,
and now is backed by $16 million in funding from Polaris Venture
Partners, General Catalyst and Sofinnova. AVAKI offers commercial
grid software that provides highly secure access to data and computer
resources in wide-area, multi-platform environments.
Therapeutics LLC, launched by Joel Linden, U.Va. professor of
medicine, and local entrepreneur Robert Capon, focuses on the
discovery and development of new pharmaceutical products that
target adenosine receptor subtypes. Candidates for drug development
are identified and screened using the companys state-of-the-art
company was founded with the goal of bringing new adenosine-receptor
selective drugs into clinical trials for a broad range of potential
indications, such as sepsis, heart attacks, ischemia-reperfusion
injury, vascular injury, stroke, spinal cord injury, organ transplantation,
asthma and diabetes. Over the past two years, it has won several
small business grants from the National Institutes of Health to
support its work.
spring, Adenosine licensed two coronary vasodilator compounds
to DuPont Pharmaceuticals Co. (now a subsidiary of Bristol-Meyers
Squibb), for imaging the heart in the treatment of coronary artery
disease, said Capon, Adenosines chief executive officer.
The firm continues to seek licensing opportunities with other
pharmaceutical companies for other uses of its compounds and is
starting its own clinical development program.
now is based in the Commonwealth Center in downtown Charlottesville.
It also leases most of the 1,200 square feet of laboratory and
office space in the Corner Building on University Avenue that
Spinner secured more than a year ago for U.Va.-affiliated researchers.
The growing company also is talking with Spinner regarding additional
space in the Emerging Technology Center at North Fork, Capon said.
third U.Va.-affiliated business, ContraVac Inc., a reproductive
health biotechnology firm started by U.Va. cell biology professor
John Herr is located in the Corner Building. ContraVac recently
received a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)
Award from the NIH. The $653,000, two-year grant will fund the
development of a genetically engineered protein that may lead
to a new type of spermicide.
Pharmaceuticals, a fourth U.Va.-affiliated firm, is negotiating
to take space in the Emerging Technology Center that Spinner has
agreed to lease.
biotech firm with programs in the anti-infective and anti-cancer
fields, Pinnacles platform technology involves RNA targeting.
One of its founders is Sidney Hecht, U.Va. professor of chemistry
with helping faculty start-ups find lab space, Spinner offers
numerous business start-up services, including:
trademark searches and corporate name registration
referrals to appropriate sources of funding
connections to a U.Va. Faculty Entrepreneurs Network.
compensation for its services, Spinner retains a small equity
stake negotiated on a case-by-case basis in each
faculty start-up business it assists. Spinner is a joint venture
between the Patent Foundation and the University.
envision the future as an unbroken continuum, MacWright
said. We see todays outstanding scientific talent
at U.Va. creating valuable technologies that will eventually join
the ranks of the regions major employers. Were working
to make this vision a reality.