Bayer to expand U.S. innovation center

By Bernie Monegain
08:56 AM
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One year after opening its Innovation Center, Bayer HealthCare is expanding its research model with dedicated lab space.

The company will open the CoLaborator – a 6,000-square-foot shared lab for start-up life science companies whose technology platforms, drug targets or drug candidates align with Bayer's portfolio.

Bayer HealthCare, a subgroup of Bayer AG, is based in Leverkusen, Germany. The company combines the global activities of consumer care, medical care, pharmaceuticals and animal care divisions.

The CoLaborator is expected to house three to four small companies. Bayer plans to launch the CoLaborator by late summer 2012 at its Mission Bay location.

"The CoLaborator is a natural extension of our unique approach to research partnerships where we recognize that innovation is a collaborative process and focus on sharing risks and rewards – stepping beyond the confines of a traditional life science incubator," said professor Andreas Busch, member of the Bayer HealthCare Executive Committee and Head of Global Drug Discovery.

Demand for start-up lab space to support academic researchers and their teams of post-doctoral and graduate students remains high in California.

[See also: New initiative aims to speed clinical research, cut cost.]

According to the most recent industry report from BayBio and the California Healthcare Institute, researchers at the University of California (UC) produce, on average, four new inventions a day, and UC develops more patents than any other university in the United States. This high level of research productivity has resulted in 461 start-ups since 1976 according to the California Biomedical Industry 2011 Report.

"Mission Bay is becoming well known as a thriving zone for bioscience entrepreneurs, with 38 startups already on or around the UCSF research campus, but the demand for new startup facilities continues to exceed our space," said Jeff Bluestone, executive vice chancellor and provost of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). "Bayer's new incubator will augment that ecosystem, offering lab space and access to commercial knowledge to help more scientists translate their work into products that improve patients' lives."

[See also: U.S. biomedical leaders present leaders on Capitol Hill with new national strategy for innovation.]

The goal of Bayer's CoLaborator-approach is to support start-ups in establishing their research labs, with academic researchers spinning out new firms and venture capital groups being the likely sources of these companies. In addition to lab facilities, access to the global expertise and equipment of Bayer's research network will be available to CoLaborator-scientists. In return for low-cost, ready to use lab space and access to its global expertise, Bayer would seek preferred access to partner with the emerging companies.

"Mission Bay is an innovation hub in the U.S. and this expansion of Bayer's U.S. Innovation Center demonstrates our commitment to the U.S. market and to partnering with emerging companies to bring novel technologies, drug targets and therapeutic candidates forward to improve medical care for patients," said Terry Hermiston, vice president of U.S. Biologics Research and head of Bayer's U.S. Innovation Center. "We've had an exciting first year of operations at the U.S. Innovation Center and we look forward to celebrating not only our success but that of our partners at the CoLaborator in the years to come."