ISU Receives Support from Iowa Values Fund to Build Biologics Facility at Research Park

October 22nd, 2003

AMES, Iowa — At its meeting today, the Iowa Values Fund Board voted to support the regent universities' request for $25 million to be used for economic development initiatives.

The Iowa Values Fund legislation designated $10 million for Iowa State University to construct a biologics facility and incubator at the ISU Research Park. Based on today's decision, the university will receive $4 million over two years. The remaining $6 million will be disbursed in subsequent years, depending on the availability of funds.

"With this facility, Iowa State can extend the university's world-class excellence in plant research to industry in a manner that will significantly impact Iowa's leadership in the emerging bioeconomy," said Iowa State President Gregory Geoffroy. "The interface between the biologics facility and Plant Sciences Institute at Iowa State will provide Iowa with the opportunity to become a national leader in the plant biotechnology industry."

The biologics facility will be a production facility for the extraction and purification of plant-based proteins that can be used for pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals and industrial enzymes.

The facility will be made available on a fee basis to companies involved in production of plant-based pharmaceuticals or industrial products. The materials produced at the facility will primarily be used for clinical trials and customer testing.

"A major bottleneck in the development of the biotech industry in Iowa is the availability of production facilities for small, early-stage companies that don't have the capital to build and operate their own," said James Bloedel, vice provost for research. "The biologics facility will really help the industry grow in Iowa."

The total construction cost of phase one of the project will be approximately $11 million, Bloedel said. The first phase calls for one purification suite, while the long-range plan calls for a multi-tenant facility. As need and financing permit, the other suites will be completed to accommodate additional tenants.

In addition to the Iowa Values Fund award, Iowa State has secured $3.2 million from the Iowa Department of Economic Development and $2.6 million in federal funding for the facility. The remainder will be financed through debt financing.

None of the funding for this project will be derived from reallocation of institutional, general education funds, Bloedel said.

"This facility will give Iowa's growers the opportunities to participate in high-value biotech industry," Bloedel said.

The university has worked with the Iowa Cooperative, a producer group of more than 70 farmers, to ensure the impact of this facility will reach across the state.

The Iowa Cooperative has grown crops that contain pharmaceuticals and is developing systems and procedures to manage the planting, growth and harvesting of these new crops. The companies they grow for are potential customers of the biologics facility, Bloedel said.

Planning for the biologics facility has occurred over a two-and-a-half year period and involved the Iowa Department of Economic Development, Ames Economic Development Commission, Iowa Coop, the ISU provost's office, the Plant Sciences Institute and the ISU Research Park.


James Bloedel, Vice Provost for Research, (515) 294-6344
Teddi Barron, News Service, (515) 294-4778

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