The Austin Technology Incubator (ATI) at The University of Texas at Austin was recently awarded a federal Economic Development Administration grant to develop a public-private partnership to support an Austin-area wet laboratory incubator.
The project is a result of an earlier ATI feasibility study that quantitated demand for a wet laboratory space in the Austin vicinity.
Wet labs are laboratories where chemicals, drugs or biological matter are handled in liquid solutions or volatile phases, requiring direct ventilation and specialized piped utilities. They play a vital role in supporting biotechnology startups and accelerating technology commercialization.
According to U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank, the grant awarded to ATI "is an example of the Obama administration's commitment to help local communities create jobs and strengthen the economy."
The development of an Austin wet lab incubator could add as much as $110 million annually to the local economy and create 1,800 jobs. It could help support research conducted at a proposed medical school at The University of Texas at Austin, among other initiatives.
"The project will allow ATI, in conjunction with our community partners, to explore public-private partnerships as a means to support a local wet laboratory facility to accelerate biotechnology startups," said Cindy WalkerPeach, Ph.D., director of ATI's Bioscience division.
During the next year, ATI will evaluate a public-private partnership model as a potential vehicle to cover the wet lab's expected initial cost of $80 million. Major funding sources may include the university, the City of Austin, the State of Texas, the EDA and corporate sponsors.
ATI is a not-for-profit unit of the IC2 Institute of The University of Texas at Austin that harnesses business, government and academic resources to provide strategic counsel, operational guidance and infrastructure support to its member companies to help them transition from early stage ventures to successful technology businesses. Since its founding in 1989, ATI has worked with hundreds of companies, helping raise close to $1 billion in investor capital.