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Malloy wants $200M for bioscience industry

By Johanna Somers

Publication: theday.com

Published January 17. 2013 4:00PM   Updated January 18. 2013 5:13PM
Governor to seek state funds spread over next decade

Farmington — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Thursday he will ask the General Assembly to pass a Bioscience Innovation Act that would provide $200 million over 10 years to Connecticut’s bioscience industry.

Malloy made the announcement while breaking ground at The Jackson Laboratory’s future facility at the University of Connecticut Health Center.

“This investment in UCONN and with Jackson Labs is an important marker towards the future, but we need to do substantially more in the coming years if we are going to maximize the potential of the investments that we celebrate today,” Malloy said.

The facility will specialize in genomic medicine, which examines how genes induce disease and maintain health, said Edison Liu, president and CEO of The Jackson Laboratory. The goal is to personalize care based on a person’s genetic makeup and to find treatments for cancer and other illnesses. Liu said an ecosphere of diverse and interactive bioscience companies is needed to improve life spans and quality of life and to lower health care costs.

“We hope to be a catalyst for the formation of these networks and clusters,” Liu said. “We alone will not achieve the final goal.”

Future hubs for bioscience in Connecticut include New Haven, Farmington and Storrs, Malloy said.

“On the investment side within those industries ... certainly the Groton, New London area has great potential and actually has a major facility in Pfizer,” Malloy said. “We are working with them to make sure that those properties that they are not going to use any longer have a good shot of being put into this industry as well.”

The 20-year budget for the project is estimated to be $1.1 billion. It is projected to create 6,800 direct and indirect permanent jobs.

The legislature has approved $291 million and the company has agreed to raise $860 million from federal grants, philanthropy and its own revenue, according to the governor’s press release. Of the $291 million, $192 million is in loans that will be forgiven after the company creates 300 jobs in 10 years.

The other portion, $99 million, is in research grants over a 10-year period.

Liu said the facility would create 300 jobs for scientists and staff. The construction of the facility will provide additional jobs, Liu said, as will spin-off enterprises.

Malloy’s plan for developing Connecticut’s bioscience industry includes borrowing or selling bonds to raise $200 million over 10 years. In each of the first and second years, he hopes to raise $10 million; in the third and fourth years, $15 million; and in the fifth through 10th years, $25 million.

Investments in bioscience would be available for large and small businesses. Companies would be subjected to a “rigorous vetting process,” Malloy said.

Connecticut needs the bioscience investment fund because — although the state was initially a leader in bioscience — the industry has been shrinking in Connecticut, compared to the nation.

“Over the last 10 years, bioscience across the U.S. grew by 7 percent while in Connecticut it fell by 14 percent,” Malloy said.

j.somers@theday.com

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