Snowballs don't get tossed around very much in Florida. But when you take a close look at the web of local and state incentives that have been rolled out to lure research institutes to the state, you start to understand the kind of snowball effect they're looking for in biotechnology.
The Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies is a good example. Backed with $90 million in economic development incentives, the institute is already looking to strike up research collaborations with Scripps Research Institute and Florida Atlantic University. UM's School of Medicine, Florida Atlantic and Florida International University all have ambitious plans to expand their work in the biosciences. Those developments will in turn help bring in new federal research dollars and ultimately go on to spawn new drug development companies to begin work leading to commercialization.
"The Burnham Institute alone garnered $155 million in state support last year for an expansion program and Scripps gained more than $700 million to back its Florida move."
Florida scored two important coups when Scripps Florida and the Burnham Institute both were wooed here by economic development officials armed with state cash and determined to transform the state by making it a powerhouse in academic research. The Burnham Institute alone garnered $155 million in state support last year for an expansion program and Scripps gained more than $700 million to back its Florida move.
That investment is beginning to pay off. In recent months Scripps Florida signed a $100 million research agreement with Pfizer and saw its first spin-offâ€“Xcoveryâ€“take off. The University of Florida, meanwhile, has been cited by the Milken Institute as a leader in the country for its technology out-licensing and commercialization work. And that work is a key contributor to developing startups in biotechnology.
It may take years for the snowball to really get rolling on the commercial side of drug discovery, but Florida has created a blueprint on laying the foundation for a cluster.