Funding Makes London A National Leader in Biotechnology

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By Communications Staff
Wednesday, June 28, 2000
LONDON, Ont. - London is poised to become a Canadian leader in the commercialization of biotechnology thanks to $5 million in funding from the Province of Ontario.

The investment, announced in London today by Energy, Science and Technology Minister Jim Wilson, matches a $5 million grant from the City of London. It will establish a new $10 million facility in the City - the London Biotechnology Incubator (LBI) - to assist local startup biotechnology companies to reach commercial viability and bring products to market more efficiently and effectively.

The initiative to establish the biotechnology incubator was spearheaded by several local organizations including the City of London, the Lawson Research Institute, the London Health Sciences Centre, The John P. Robarts Research Institute and The University of Western Ontario (UWO) - all of which provided the seed funding for the project. The University has also donated the land for the facility, which will be located at the UWO Research Park.

The two-story, approximately 50,000 square foot LBI is expected to help create as many as 30 new companies and bring 140 new jobs to the region within the next five years. The companies will focus on improving human health through the development of new drugs, drug devices, information technology-related biomedical systems and agricultural biotechnology. The incubator will assist them by providing shared management, office space and support staff as well as state-of-the-art science and research facilities. The location allows access to a full range of expertise and additional clinical facilities in the adjacent University and health sciences complex.

"The provincial government is showing great foresight with this strategic investment to help new biotech companies develop and the industry as a whole to grow into its potential," says Dr. Mark Poznansky, founding Chair of the LBI Board of Directors and President and Scientific Director of The John P. Robarts Research Institute.

The Board of Directors is composed of representatives from each founding partner. Leadership will be transferred to a private sector board in the fall.

The LBI establishes London as a critical centre in an emerging biotechnology corridor linking Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and southwestern Ontario to the United States. The Province announced funding to establish a similar commercialization centre in Toronto earlier this month.

The biotechnology industry in North America generates more than $120 billion annually, employs an estimated 150,000 people and is one of the fastest growing industries on the continent.

Dr. Paul Davenport, President of The University of Western Ontario, says, "Success breeds success. The London Biotechnology Incubator will help our scientists develop their research into products and services of benefit to Canadians. Their accomplishments will in turn help the University and the community recruit and retain more top researchers. Partnering to build London's technology infrastructure and advance science is part of Western's vision. We are delighted this project is moving forward."

Tony Dagnone, President and CEO of the London Health Sciences Centre, says, "The London Biotechnology Incubator is a key initiative for the London Health Sciences Centre and its researchers. The London community and Ontario citizens will benefit as a result of the opportunity to commercialize research, and to facilitate industry and academic relationships."

"We are very excited about the London Biotechnology Incubator and its potential impact upon the local economy. We believe that the City's investment in this facility is an investment in London's future," says Mayor Dianne Haskett. "This provincial funding will greatly assist us in developing a strong and vibrant biotechnology industry which will mean new employment opportunities, new business/assessment base growth and the development of not only new companies but new technologies for commercialization. This is a good news story for London's future economic growth."

Construction of the LBI facility is expected to begin in late fall 2000 and it will be ready for occupancy one year later. An estimated 15 to 20 startup companies will be able to occupy the building at any one time.

The LBI website can be found at: www.rri.on.ca/lbi.

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Media Contacts:

Susan Crowley Judy Noordermeer
Executive Director UWO Communications
London Biotechnology Incubator and Public Affairs
(519) 685-8500 ext. 34816 (519) 661-2111 ext. 85468
scrowley@rri.on.ca jnoorder@julian.uwo.ca

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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