Peoria pursues plans in bioscience industry

News Archive (2010)

Peoria pursues plans in bioscience industry.

by Sonu Munshi - Sept. 30, 2010 12:03 PM
The Arizona Republic

Peoria's ambitions to chart a new economic development course in the competitive but coveted bioscience industry recently suffered a set back. The city's partner, Translational Genomics Research Institute, or TGen, did not get a $1 million federal grant to open a consortium in the city.

No federal grant for Peoria bioscience consortium
Peoria council OKs $200,000 to help TGen

Without federal money, the consortium that would have helped move bioscience ideas to the marketplace is a no-go, Peoria economic development chief Scott Whyte said.

Whyte is looking at another plan that offers greater city control: a biotech incubator in collaboration with the CORE Institute and BioAccel, both of Phoenix. Under that plan, the city would lease space at the sprawling Plaza Del Rio medical campus, near Loop 101 and Thunderbird Road, to startup companies at a low cost to help them set up base and turn bioscience ideas into products for commercial use.

Sharon Harper, president and chief executive of Plaza Companies, which developed and manages Plaza Del Rio, had offered free office space for two years to TGen's proposal. With that off the table, Harper didn't rule out a similar deal with any other city proposal that might move forward.

Whyte has been in talks with CORE to bring in companies that make medical devices.

"It would foster their growth and help us create a bioscience cluster in Peoria," Whyte said.

CORE spokeswoman Erica Brinker said they have submitted planning details to the city.

"We're really excited about the potential opportunity, although nothing's been finalized yet," Brinker told The Arizona Republic.

MaryAnn Guerra, chief executive of BioAccel, whose mission is to develop commercially viable bioscience ventures, said Peoria would do well to focus on a niche within the bioscience industry, such as medical devices, to set itself apart from other communities vying for a piece of the bioscience pie.

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