A private-investment fund being raised for the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park will provide support to international companies that want to add their presence to the research center.
Debra Linick, assistant director for the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, said the biotech park already has brought eight Israeli companies into its Virginia Israel Biosciences Commercialization Center subsidiary.
Ralph Robbins, executive director of the Virginia Israel Advisory Board, said the fund should create incentives for other nations as well.
“Israel is one of the major countries, but it’s going to be a little bit broader than that,” he said.
The fundraisers for the research park are relying on private investments to reach a goal of $20 million. Robbins said the people working on the fund have raised several million dollars in the project’s first couple of months.
According to its Web site, the biopark comprises more than 50 biosciences companies and research institutes. These companies are affiliated with the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center or with major state and national medical laboratories and organizations dealing with forensics, the testing of biotoxins and the nation’s organ-transplantation process.
“If this fund is in place and all the elements of the commercialization center are in place, this should be the best program in the United States,” Robbins said.
The park is next to and encompasses parts of the university’s MCV Campus, including VCU’s Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics, the VCU Office of the Vice President for Research and the VCU Institute for Structural Biology and Drug Discovery.
According to Linick, biotechnological commercialization drew the attention of many Virginia legislators this session.
Delegates John O’Bannon III, R-Richmond, and Mark Sickles, D-Franconia, and Sen. Mark Herring, D-Leesburg, supported legislation to incentivize such commercialization.
“We can see the results already,” Robbins said.
By Stacey Hamman. Hamman is a VCU journalism student and submitted this report through Capital News Service.
Our biotech park is an interesting real estate animal. It demands the attention of international companies such as the aforementioned Israeli firms. It’s home to start-ups using as little as 126 square feet and giant corporations (Phillp Morris) using 450,000 square feet. The park is a product of the Commonwealth with buildings approaching 100% occupancy to private developers/owners with 50% occupancy. Non-incubator rents are similar to Class “A” office space throughout the area, but expenses are extremely high (due primarily to utilities). It’s a hard product to undertstand, but Richmond is fortunate to have such an animal.