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University of Iowa News Release


April 30, 2007

UI, National Genecular Institute, Ryan Companies Break Ground

The University of Iowa, Ryan Companies US, Inc., and National Genecular Institute, Inc. (NGI), a California subsidiary of Dermacia Inc., broke ground today (Monday, April 30) on the development of a 90,000-square-foot research laboratory and business incubator facility at the UI's Oakdale Research Park in Coralville, Iowa.

With an estimated building cost of $20 million, the project consists of the design, development and construction of a state-of-the-art research facility at 2500 Crosspark Road in Coralville. The building is expected to be completed in May 2008. The UI and NGI will be tenants in the new facility, which will be built by Ryan Companies US Inc. on land leased to Ryan by the Oakdale Research Park.

The UI will occupy 35,000 square feet of the facility for its new BioVentures Center for sublease to biotechnology and other technology-based new business ventures. The center will have 20 wet labs and 16 dry labs/offices for sublease to start-up companies. Other features include a shared laboratory equipment room, multi-purpose room for presentations and events, board and conference rooms, a break room and other amenities to meet the needs of growing technology companies. Depending on space needs of each of the tenants, the center is anticipated to accommodate 15 to 20 companies.

"This is an exciting partnering opportunity for us as this joint project is in line with the UI's aspiration to expand its business incubator facilities and spur growth in its Oakdale Research Park," said Meredith Hay, UI vice president for research. "The BioVentures Center demonstrates our capabilities to provide a first-rate laboratory-and-office environment for new life science and other technology companies."

NGI expects to occupy about 55,000 square feet of the facility. NGI's section will be used to advance innovative research in customized medicine through its broad research in genetics pharmacogenomics, molecular cell biology, laser optics, nanobiology and federally approved stem cell research. NGI projects that 180 new jobs will be created during a three-year period and the jobs will be in the scientific field. NGI plans to hire 35 people in the next year to get its lab up and running to begin operations.

"The University of Iowa is recognized as one of the premiere scientific research universities in the nation," says Matt Nicosia, Dermacia's chief executive officer and co-founder. "NGI's mission of 'Extending Life One Cell at A Time' will benefit greatly from this partnering and our research efforts will usher in the next generation of cosmeceuticals and skin care."

"While we enjoy all of our work, we are especially excited about this project," said Marc Gullickson, president of Ryan Companies US Inc./Iowa. "In working with the NGI and the university we are part of an effort that is not only fascinating but more importantly, offers the opportunity for advances in science and technology that will benefit a very broad part of the community."

The NGI/ BioVentures Center is designed by OPN Architects Inc. of Cedar Rapids; subcontractors are the Baker Group of Des Moines (mechanical contractors) and Nelson Electric of Cedar Rapids.

Several local and state agencies are providing financial assistance for the NGI/ BioVentures Center project. The Iowa Department of Economic Development has awarded NGI $655,000 in direct state assistance, grants and incentives. The City of Coralville pledged $800,000 in Tax Increment Financing. NGI will also receive $1.1 million in state community college job training assistance. State economic development funds will help build the Bioventures Center.

NGI and UI officials noted that the Iowa City Area Development Group and its President Joe Raso were instrumental in connecting NGI with local and state resources and governmental agencies to make the project a reality.

Beyond the Coralville facility, NGI plans to purchase 3.86 acres in Iowa City on which it plans to build a BioTrust facility, a repository for genetic and cellular materials, which will be one of the largest and most sophisticated in the world. In October, the Iowa City Council approved $1.2 million in Tax Increment Financing for the biobank.

"Imagine a future where each person can obtain custom-made, individualized skin products targeted for their own skin's characteristics and susceptibilities, such as sun sensitivity, predisposition to skin cancers, early aging and tendency to form wrinkles," said Nicosia. "Well that future is now here, it's just a matter of bricks and mortar."

Dermacia Inc. is a manufacturer and innovator of skin care products, anti-aging cosmeceuticals and topical pharmaceuticals. NGI is advancing the future of customized medicine in areas such as skin diseases and conditions through a global biomedical research protocol that identifies the human genetic factors causing a given disease or condition, as well as the subsequent development of targeted products and therapeutics.

The Oakdale Research Park is part of the IOWA Centers for Enterprise, which integrates existing economic development activities at the UI and offers a comprehensive program that promotes economic development and technology transfer, provides assistance to Iowa startups and existing Iowa businesses and communities, and helps the state of Iowa develop a creative, entrepreneurial workforce. IOWA Centers for Enterprise optimizes the flow of university intellectual property into opportunities for licensing, commercialization and business development. For more information, visit

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500; NGI, 660 Newport Center Drive, Suite 900 Newport Beach, CA 92660

MEDIA CONTACTS: University of Iowa: George McCrory, 319-384-0012,; The Professional Image, Inc. for NGI: Angela O'Mara or Enna Ruiz, 949-760-1522

OTHER INFORMATION: Building rendering is available for download at: