Industries Economic Development

Virginia creates a Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corp.

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Virginia is seeking to boost its profile as a state for bioscience research with the creation of a tax-exempt corporation.  Designed to foster collaborative scientific research innovation by providing a new program for public/private partnerships with Virginia universities, the Virginia Biosciences Health Research Corp. (VBHRC) will be funded at $5 million for 2013/2014 from the state’s general fund.

Five schools ― Eastern Virginia Medical School, George Mason University, the University of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, and Virginia Tech—will put in a $50,000 cash contribution in each of the first and second years. 

Announced Monday by the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the mission of the corporation is to serve as a catalyst to accelerate life sciences research momentum at Virginia’s universities. Other goals include developing patents, fostering new startup companies, creating jobs and raising Virginia’s ranking in health care delivery and the life sciences nationally.

Currently, the state’s bioscience industry is made up of nearly 800 firms with about 28,700 employees. Virginia offers companies a central location in the mid-Atlantic life sciences corridor combined with access to research institutes, including SRI International, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and 11 federally funded R&D centers.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Gov. Bob McDonnell said in a statement, “… R&D investments have a tremendous economic impact in total jobs and increased annual state tax revenue. “

Jerry Giles, a managing director on VEDP’s business expansion team, will serve as interim chair of the VBHRC until a board of directors can be recruited. “The VBHRC is a unique model, which draws upon the institutional and collective life science strengths of five Virginia universities,” he said.  To attract significantly larger sponsored research from private sector corporations, he added that foundations and federal sources will focus on bioinformatics and medical informatics, point-of-care diagnostics, and drug discovery and delivery. “VBHRC will entertain no application for research funding support, unless at least two of the five founding universities have material research engagements in the application,” he said in a statement.

The VBHRC Board of Directors will be include 13 members, including five university members, with one member appointed from each of the five founding universities; five members designated by the Virginia secretary of commerce and trade, including one member from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, one from the office of Commerce and Trade, two from major statewide health care system providers in Virginia, and one from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs; one from the private equity/venture capital community; and two members from life science companies.

VBHRC also is currently recruiting a president/CEO who will report directly to the Board of Directors.

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