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Biotech Incubator on a Fast Track

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New Mexico’s first biotechnology business incubator, The BioScience Center, is rapidly emerging as a hotbed for new life science startups in Albuquerque.

The 19,500-square-foot center opened in Uptown last August to help local entrepreneurs and investors take new biotechnology products and services to market. Since then, 11 companies have moved in, said Center Director Lisa Adkins, who gave guided tours to visitors at the facility’s first “open house” on Thursday.

“About 40 percent of our space is already filled,” Adkins said. “There’s kind of a community buzz circulating that this is a local hotbed for the biotechnology industry.”

Pharmaceutical industry veteran Stuart Rose created the center last year to provide a low-cost, high-tech space for early stage biomedical engineering companies to locate. It’s now home to a range of businesses that are developing new drugs, medical diagnostics and other bio-based technologies.

The center offers cash-strapped startups access to modern offices with high-speed Internet, shared reception services, group purchasing, conference space and eight wet laboratories for research and development work. It also offers business development services, such as mentoring, leads to funding sources and investors, and networking opportunities.

Many life-science startups have emerged in recent years to market technology from the University of New Mexico and the national laboratories. But most face major challenges, such as obtaining seed funding to finance initial product development.

“We want to help startups cross that ‘valley of death’ where innovators have a good idea for a product but no money to get it to market,” Rose said. “We’re hoping investors will come knocking at our door to learn about what companies are doing here.”

To attract investor and entrepreneur attention, the center aims to become a meeting place for people, resources and ideas.

“There’s so much biotechnology development going on in New Mexico that people don’t know about, so the center offers a focal point to bring people together,” Adkins said.

Apart from below-market rates for facility space, the center accepts equity stakes in companies to help residents offset up to 50 percent of annual rent. The goal is to help startups navigate the earliest stages to prepare them for life outside the incubator.

“We want startups to come here, develop their technologies and then move out to make room for the next ones,” Rose said. “We want to manufacture companies here.”

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