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U.Va. Research Park To Open Emerging Technology Center

Two Biotech Firms To Establish North Fork Operations, And U.Va. Technology Firm Will Take Lab Space In New Center

October 31, 2001-- Construction of a new $4.4 million research building, the Emerging Technology Center (ETC), 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.

"We strongly believe that locating near our peer companies in the research park will make it a dynamic place for our worldwide headquarters," said David B. Patteson, president and chief executive officer of Biotage. "We also do a lot of traveling, so the park’s proximity to the airport is a distinct advantage."

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 ETC is an effort to respond to those needs, he said.

The ETC 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 ETC will offer terms ranging from one to ten years. Developers also worked to keep a lid on costs to make the space affordable for fledgling businesses, Rose said.

Martin/Horn Inc., general contractor for the project, broke ground in February on the two-story, red brick structure and expects to complete construction in December.

"This new center helps meet a pressing need in the community for affordable and flexible laboratory space for info-tech and bio-tech companies," said Bruce B. Stouffer, U.Va. Foundation director of real estate development. "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."

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The University of Virginia Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation affiliated with U.Va. that develops and manages the University’s real estate holdings. The Foundation operates two research parks near Charlottesville in Albemarle County to foster research collaboration between industry and University experts in science, technology and medicine.

The University of Virginia Research Park at North Fork is a master-planned 562-acre park, zoned for mixed-use, that eventually may be home to 3 million square feet of development. North Fork is located eight miles north of Charlottesville, along the north fork of the Rivanna River, and adjacent to the Charlottesville/Albemarle Airport and U.S. Route 29.

The Fontaine Research Park is a master-planned 54-acre park, zoned for approximately 400,000 square feet of development, and located southwest of the University's main Grounds.

Contact: Charlotte Crystal, (434) 924-6858

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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