Report: New Jersey Heating Up for Biopharma Incubators and Innovation Spaces

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The Institute for Life Science Entrepreneurship (ILSE) released a white paper highlighting life science incubator space and innovation trends in New Jersey. The report, entitled “Recent Advances in Laboratory and Innovation Space in New Jersey” profiles these efforts.

ILSE is a non-profit organization founded in 2014 to accelerate life science discoveries. It is both a technology accelerator and a science-driven research institute. It partners with affiliated academic and biomedical institutions across the region. ILSE indicates that it was “designed such that innovation flows in through its network of affiliates and is then matured and strengthened through a value chain of resources to produce development-stage assets. Programs exit via licensing to industry partners or as the focus of a new company, also returning value to ILSE, its affiliates and investors.”

As the white paper notes, in the last year, two major new incubators were launched. In addition, others in the state received academic and industry support. The size of the facilities range from about 8,000 square feet to 45,000 square feet. Some host a handful of companies while others have over 50 startups.

One of those is the Thomas O. Daniel Research Incubator and Collaboration Center at Celgene. The report describes it as “an incubator to support and accelerate early entrepreneurial biotech companies that share Celgene’s mission, with a strong focus on companies that need access to biological laboratories.” It’s based on Celgene’s campus in Summit, New Jersey.

Another is The Center of Excellence in Bridgewater, which is on a former Sanofi site. It has 850,000 square feet. It hosts up to 30 companies and its academic affiliation is with Rutgers in Princeton, New Jersey.

And yet another is The Institute for Life Science Entrepreneurship’s itself, which published the white paper. Their incubator is located in Union, New Jersey, the home of Kean University. Its hosted companies include research service firms and pharma spinouts. In addition to incubator space, it offers pre-negotiated, reduced-rate consulting services by way of its networks of life science experts and a network of research-and-development service organizations. Most recently, Microgenomx was launched at ILSE, a for-profit wholly owned by ILSE that provides core microbiology, microbial genomics, and microbiome research and services.

The state now has a total of six life science incubators, which are typically clustered in the central and northern parts of the state. According to a report by Jones Lang Lasalle, the region has 3,400 life sciences establishments. New Jersey has 1,000 biopharma companies, including 13 of the top 20 in the world.

The report states, “Despite the outstanding physical infrastructure of big pharma facilities, including some legacy structures, and the launch of new dedicated innovation spaces, there is still a significant unmet demand for incubator and ‘graduation’ or post-incubation facilities. These are the facilities that range from a few hundred to several thousand square feet and are designed for the small, lean start-ups that will benefit from co-location, shared services and, often, mentoring.”

However, the report also notes that the state’s incubator spaces are currently at or near capacity, and encourages the state and companies to build and add quality physical spaces for entrepreneurs in the life sciences.

Lenzie Harcum, program manager for CCIT and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority is quoted in the paper, saying, “Responding to the needs of the biotech entrepreneurial market is imperative to the state’s ability to grow life sciences jobs. In addition to offering affordable space for growing life sciences businesses, the EDA’s Commercialization Center for Innovative Technologies (CCIT) provides tenant companies with an array of resources.”

Harcum adds, “This includes help with identifying funding sources, networking events, and a friendly and knowledgeable support staff. For post-incubation stage companies, we recently launched our Biotechnology Development Center, which offers companies access to 2,000-to-8,000-square-foot lab and office modules.”

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