Volume 93, Issue 26

Wednesday, March 18, 1999


Throne speech fails to enthral

Robotic arm helps make history

Biotech incubator to attract research business

Harris makes hushed appearance at Western

Gas stations disconnect cellphones

Organization is key to conference


Caught on campus

Biotech incubator to attract research business

By Sean Maraj
Gazette Staff

London's research industry is hoping to break from its shell onto Western soil if a newly proposed facility receives city funding.

The new facility, a biotechnology incubator, will help fledgling research companies stand on their own feet, said Susan Crowley, executive director of London's Biotech Incubator Corporation, a steering committee formed by the city. "It is a planned new building that will house new biotech companies that are emerging from academia," she explained.

Crowley said a proposal to build a $10 million biotech incubator at the Western Research Park was compiled by the city.

She added the creation of the new building will hopefully attract biotechnology companies to London by offering them resources such as office space and research facilities.

The incubator concept, conceived in the 1970s, lasts three to five years within which time the company can develop to its full potential, she explained. "Initially it will help companies stay in London that are coming out of commercializing. If it's successful, it will bring together a lot of these companies and attract newer companies," she said.

The potential opening of the incubator at the research park received praise from the park's acting director Ker Furguson, who said he sees this as a great opportunity for both the university and the surrounding community. It's a plan that's good for London and it's good for the research park," he said.

Local companies have also expressed interest in the incubator.

Najla Guthrice, an excecutive at KGK Synergize, a pharmaceutical company, said she was excited about the possiblity of the incubator. "We're very interested, it's very much needed here in London. A lot of start up companies would benefit from it," she said.

Yet Guthrice said she was not willing to count her eggs before they hatched. "The biggest problem is obtaining the funding and I hope they can get it off the ground – it has a lot of potential," she said.

Ron Layden, president of Viron Therapeutics, a company also interested in the incubator, pointed to the all around support the project has, as a good indicator of getting the required funding. "It has the support of the University, hospitals and the city. I don't forsee any problems," he said.

Despite the possible financial problem which may face the creation of the facility, Crowley said she was confident the incubator's advantages will be vital in helping to promote economic progress in London.

"One of the things London has going for it, is it's viewed as a centre of leading-edge research," she said.

According to Crowley, the compiled proposal is on its way to London's Board of Control, awaiting a decision as to whether the city of London is willing to foot half of the $10 million bill.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999