Biotech startups launch operations at UVa Research Park - The Daily Progress: Local

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Biotech startups launch operations at UVa Research Park

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Posted: Tuesday, July 16, 2013 11:00 pm | Updated: 1:31 pm, Mon Jul 22, 2013.

Two biotechnology startups, RioGin and Alexander BioDiscoveries, have begun operations at the University of Virginia Research Park in northern Albemarle County.

RioGin is working to improve the performance of pharmaceutical compounds by producing safer medicines that are taken less frequently. Alexander BioDiscoveries is seeking to channel new anti-viral drugs into the pharmaceutical market pipeline.

The UVa Foundation, the Central Virginia Partnership for Economic Development and AlbemarleCounty announced the moves Tuesday.

About 300 biotechnology companies are based in Virginia, according to Virginia Bio, a nonprofit statewide trade group. Charlottesville and AlbemarleCounty are home to 20 percent of the state’s biotech industry, according to the announcement.

Biotech is among a handful of industries in the region poised for long-term growth, according to a 2012 study commissioned by the Central Virginia Partnership for Economic Development.

RioGin expects to create five jobs. Alexander BioDiscoveries expects to add two jobs to its existing operations.

“Their move to the University of Virginia Research Park shows they are maturing, taking the next step in the journey from research to commercialization,” Jeff Gallagher, CEO of Virginia Bio, said by email. “Particularly in the biosciences, it is important to remember typically a great deal of time, effort and capital has been invested in bringing the technologies and companies to this visible transition point, and much more will be required.”

The average annual salary for biotech jobs in Virginia is $74,579, according to a 2012 joint report by the national Biotechnology Organization and Battelle, a nonprofit science and technology development company.

“Another strength of growing our biosciences cluster is the career ladder opportunities that the industry offers,” economic development partnership President Helen Cauthen said by email. “Not only do these companies require a wide variety of life and physical scientists, they offer management and executive positions. As they grow, these companies also create technician and production positions — and excellent jobs for people at all skills levels.”

“UVa and the Charlottesville, Albemarle County [and the] Central Virginia region are increasingly seen as the epicenter of biotechnology in the commonwealth, and the announcement that RioGin and Alexander BioDiscoveries are locating in the UVa Research Park provides further validation of this phenomenon,” Mark Crowell, executive director of UVa Innovation, said by email.

“We look forward to RioGin and Alexander BioDiscoveries joining the UVa Research Park community,” Deborah van Eersel, the UVa Foundation’s marketing director and chief of staff, said in Tuesday’s announcement.

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