Patent Foundation Nurtures Faculty Entrepreneurs
Inc. Secures Lab Space For Faculty In North Forks Emerging
Technology Center Spinners Corner Building Lab Space
January 15, 2002-- Researchers
who want to turn their lab work into new products and services face
the same challenges as other entrepreneurs writing a business
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
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. 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, a $4.4 million, 40,000 square-foot research
facility, is located in the University of Virginia Research Park
at North Fork, about eight miles north of Charlottesville. 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 estate development.
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
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 said.
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,
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 1."
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 company's state-of-the-art platform technology.
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, supporting
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.
U.Va.-affiliated business, ContraVac Inc., a reproductive health
biotechnology firm started by U.Va. cell biology professor John
Herr, has taken Spinners remaining lab space in the Corner
Building. ContraVac recently received a Phase II Small Business
Innovation Research (SBIR) Award from the National Institutes of
Health. The $653,000, two-year grant will fund the development of
a genetically engineered protein that may lead to a new type of
Pharmaceuticals, a fourth U.Va.-affiliated firm, is negotiating
to take space in the Emerging Technology Center that Spinner has
agreed to lease.
firm with programs in the anti-infective and anti-cancer fields,
Pinnacle's platform technology involves RNA targeting. One of its
founders is Sidney Hecht, U.Va. professor of chemistry and biology.
with helping faculty start-ups find lab space, Spinner offers numerous
business start-up services, including:
searches and corporate name registration
to appropriate sources of funding
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
Charlotte Crystal, (434) 924-6858