For Immediate Release
July 16, 2003
Park president speaks at Venture Forum luncheon
RICHMOND, Va. – Robert T. Skunda, president and CEO of the Virginia BioTechnology Research Park, told a luncheon meeting of the local Venture Forum today (July 16) that the Park has been successful in attracting and nurturing start-up biosciences companies in its short history because of its supportive infrastructure.
Since the Park's downtown campus officially opened in 1995 with completion of the Virginia BioTechnology Center, the Park has focused on creating a "technology village" where researchers and executives from private companies, university research institutes, state laboratories and non-profit companies can meet easily and collaborate. To help life sciences start-ups with early business challenges, the Park established the Virginia Biosciences Development Center in September 2000 to provide one-on-one business counseling, access to pro bono professional services, intellectual property consulting, conduits to funding and other business services.
According to Skunda, in order to continue industry growth, the Park, the region and the state must continue to develop incentives that will enhance the supportive environment that is now in place.
"In only seven years, the Park created 42 new biosciences companies in the Central Virginia area," Skunda said. "This is an amazing accomplishment. We need to continue to develop an infrastructure that will facilitate the growth of the industry and allow us to become recognized as the new East Coast center for biosciences."
Skunda made his comments during a panel discussion that included presentations by four entrepreneurs whose companies are headquartered at the Park. Panelists were Susan Hardwicke, president and CEO of kSERO Corp.; Mike Grisham, president ant CEO of LivingMicrosystems; Peter Stevens, president and CEO of Nanomatrix, and Jim Tuite CEO of ASD Biosystems.
Grisham said the biggest problem facing early-stage life sciences companies in Central Virginia is the scarcity of venture capital. "However," Grisham added, "the Park has a supportive environment that will allow small companies to survive the crucial first years before traditional forms of funding become available."
The Virginia BioTechnology Research Park is home to a unique mix of biosciences companies, research institutes affiliated with Virginia Commonwealth University, major state and national medical laboratories and non-profit organizations. The Park is only one-third developed, yet already its tenants, housed in eight buildings, fill more than 575,000 square feet of space in downtown Richmond and employ more than 1,400 scientists, researchers, engineers and technicians in fields that include drug development, medical diagnostics, biomedical engineering, forensics and environmental analysis. Recent partnerships with neighboring Henrico and Chesterfield counties will extend the reach of the Park to satellite parks that can accommodate larger companies on suburban campuses.
Virginia BioTechnology Research Park
Phone: (804) 828-6884
Web site: www.vabiotech.com