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Bob Elde speaking at the UEL press conference.

Bob Elde addresses the crowd at the UEL press conference, where the final gift of $1 million and building renovation plans were announced.

Bioscience business incubator moves forward

From eNews, October 14, 2004

The Minnesota medical device industry was born in Earl Bakken's garage more than 50 years ago, says Robert Elde, dean of the College of Biological Sciences. "We hope the UEL incubator will play the same role for Minnesota's bioscience industry."

UEL, the acronym for University Enterprise Laboratories, Inc., moved a critical step closer to hatching its first brood of bioscience start-up companies when it recently reached its private support goal of $9 million. St. Paul mayor Randy Kelly announced this milestone, which was reached with a final $1 million gift from Allina Hospitals and Clinics, at a press conference on Monday, October 11.

UEL was created through a private-public partnership among the University, the city of St. Paul, and several corporate partners-led by Xcel Energy and 3M. One of its goals is to help start-up companies struggling to survive due to a shortage of incubator or wet-lab space, where one can work on liquids and gasses. In other words, to help these companies speed up the development of research into commercial products.

"UEL brings the business and science aspects of developing a bioscience start-up company together in one place and helps companies secure the capital they need," says Phillip Messina, CEO of Gel-Del Technologies, a new UEL tenant. "No other entity in the Twin Cities does that."

UEL is housed in a renovated building located at 1000 Westgate Ave. in St. Paul--the heart of the St. Paul Bioscience Zone and along the bus transit way between the University's Twin Cities campuses in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The space--part office and part warehouse--sits on an 11-acre site; 40,000 square feet will be used for offices and 80,000 square feet for incubator facilities or wet-lab space. The location provides tax incentives for bioscience companies and would offer job and internship opportunities for University students as well as faculty entrepreneurs.

As of October 1, 80 percent of the office space was leased and 40 percent of the incubator space was reserved, according to Peter Bianco, UEL executive director. The University of Minnesota's Office of Business Development, Carlson Ventures Enterprise, Ewald Consulting, Cima Nanotech, and Minnesota Research Fund have already moved into the building (the office space was renovated this summer). M.D. Biosciences, ANDX, and Gel-Del Technologies are expected to occupy office space in the near future. Renovation of laboratory space began early this month to prepare for an anchor tenant to occupy in March 2005.

For more information about UEL, e-mail Peggy Rinard at prinard@cbs.umn.edu. If you're interested in leasing space, e-mail Peter Bianco at ptbianco@uelmn.org.