Charlottesville may be home to the University of Virginia and no less than two research parks, but the big news in biotech development this week is that a former Coca-Cola bottling plant in town is being repurposed as state-of-the-art labs. The company undertaking this feat is Indoor Biotechnologies, and they are expanding their presence in Charlottesville with the purchase of the Coca-Cola building, as well as opening opportunities for other biotech companies to lease space (including wet labs) in the 38,000 square foot facility. The building has been rechristened the CityCampus Biotechnology Center, but it will probably always be the Coca-Cola plant to locals, who are very excited to see the familiar building take on new life.
(Photo courtesy of NBC29.com)
It will take about two years and $3-5 million to turn the empty brick shell into a thriving biotech campus, but the result will be an entirely unique facility, walkable to UVA, Amtrak, and town, and open to the public for tours. In a very literal take on the notion of business transparency, Indoor Biotech plans to un-brick many of the original window openings and re-glass them in, providing a fishbowl effect where passersby can look in and see science at work. The company president jokes about offering "biotech in a bottle," but the addition of 150-200 well-paying jobs plus an anchor for future biotech start-ups out of UVA is no laughing matter.
(Video courtesy of Indoor Biotechnologies, Inc.)
The Virginia Biotechnology Association (VABio) and the City of Charlottesville have both worked closely with Indoor Biotech to broker this deal. Indoor Biotech is the US arm of British-based global company Indoor Biotechnologies Limited, which specializes in allergy and asthma testing devices. That they have chosen to base and grow their US operations in Charlottesville says that the city is clearly one to watch for future biotechnology developments and markets for life science equipment.
The timing of this venture is optimal. On March 28, 2011, the Governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, signed into law legislation establishing a refundable tax credit for research and development.
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