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University of Iowa News Release


Jan. 9, 2009

BioVentures Center business incubator opens at UI Research Park

The University of Iowa Research Park has opened its BioVentures Center, a business incubator that will house both start-up companies commercializing UI biotechnology research as well as life science ventures wanting to locate near the university and use its research capabilities.

The 35,000-square-foot business incubator facility, located at 2500 Crosspark Road in Coralville, Iowa, provides 20 "wet laboratories" and 16 offices for start-up and early stage biotech companies. Wet laboratories are specially constructed areas with appropriate plumbing, ventilation, and equipment to allow for hands-on scientific research and experimentation.

The BioVentures Center is the largest wet laboratory business incubator in the state of Iowa and is the first major wet laboratory space for start-up companies to open at UI, according to Thomas Sharpe, associate vice president for economic development at the UI and executive director of the UI Research Park.

"Spin-out companies based on UI faculty research and start-up companies attracted to this area because of the UI's substantial research assets now have a first-class facility where they can grow their life sciences enterprises.   Before now, we had very limited space to support such companies, but this facility now gives us the ability to help them in a major way," Sharpe said.

UI President Sally Mason said the completion of the center helps fulfill one of the university's missions: engagement with people of Iowa though economic development. "One of the most important ways we pursue economic development is discovery through research that results in benefit to the public and growth of Iowa's wealth. Here at the BioVentures Center, new life science ventures will have an opportunity to grow, benefit our state's citizens, and improve Iowa's economy," said Mason, speaking at grand opening for the center on Thursday Jan. 8.

In addition to the wet labs and offices, tenants have access to shared space including a board room, shared equipment room, break room, conference rooms, and multi-purpose room that supports meetings of up to 60 people. The center houses the UI Research Park staff members, who provide tenants access to university services and resources, as well as conduct regular roundtable programs and educational seminars.

The $8.5 million cost of the BioVentures Center was supported in part by Grow Iowa Values Funds from the State of Iowa and tax increment funding from the City of Coralville. Construction started in November 2007 and was substantially completed by November 2008. 

OPN Architects of Cedar Rapids designed the center, which was built by Ryan Companies of Cedar Rapids, which also owns the structure and provides facility management. The UI Research Park leases the building from Ryan and subleases the laboratory and office space to the start-up company tenants.

As of Jan. 8, more than 50 percent of the available space (eight labs and nine offices) is leased or committed. ASL Analytical, Cellular Engineering Technologies, Exemplar Genetics, KemPharm, Terpenoid Therapeutics, and Vertex Pharmaceuticals are the first companies slated to occupy the facilities, said Diane Gallagher, interim director of the UI Research Park. The UI is actively seeking more companies to fill the remaining space, she added.

The Ryan Companies has constructed a 45,000-square-foot west wing of the building that is presently shell space and ready for fit-out construction to meet the needs of more established companies and laboratories that may want to locate at the UI Research Park.  Ryan will lease and manage that wing of the project.

The UI Research Park ( was established in 1989 to encourage sustained research relationships between the UI and industry. The park offers leased building sites and space to corporations engaged in research and development activities and related services, production and marketing. With the completion of the BioVentures Center and the new LMS North America facilities, are 14 buildings at the park totaling 432,000 square feet. Companies and UI anchor labs on the park or affiliated with the BioVentures Center and Technology Innovation Center incubators have nearly 2,000 employees who live in 91 communities in 29 counties in Iowa.

The UI Research Park is one of six centers of the IOWA Centers for Enterprise -- which integrates existing economic development activities at the UI, 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

MEDIA CONTACTS: Thomas Sharpe, associate vice president for economic development, University of Iowa, 319-335-3899,; Diane Gallagher, interim director, UI Research Park, 319-335-3941,; George McCrory, UI News Services, 319-384-0012,