FROM INSIDE BUSINESS, By TREVOR METCALFE
More than four years after the project was first announced, Virginia Beach has finally found a home and a management company for its bio accelerator program.
City officials have long wanted to attract more biomedical and life sciences companies to the area. Now, startups and growing companies will have temporary office and lab space near Town Center.
“This is going to put us on the map,” Dorothy Wood, chair of the Virginia Beach Development Authority, said in a meeting video available online.
The city is leasing 5,706 square feet of space for the VABeachBio Accelerator, which will be located on the fifth floor of the Convergence II office building off Independence Boulevard. The five-year lease comes with five one-year renewal options and will cost Virginia Beach around $164,000 annually, according to an August presentation given to the development authority. The authority approved the lease at that meeting.
The space will be available to both small companies and winners of the VABeachBio Innovation Challenge — an incubator program for 20 life sciences startups.
The city will also recoup a significant amount of the lease cost, Virginia Beach Economic Development Director Taylor Adams told the development authority, since the startups will be paying rent.
The accelerator and the incubator program are both part of VABeachBio, an initiative spearheaded by former mayor Will Sessoms that began in November 2015, according to reporting from The Virginian-Pilot. The umbrella program also includes the planned VABeachBio Innovation Park, a 155-acre facility to be located on Princess Anne Road.
The development authority selected Facility Logix to coordinate the design, construction and management of the accelerator program space. The Washington, D.C., area consulting firm specializes in the life sciences industry, according to its website.
The authority signed off on an initial $75,999 consultation service agreement in October to plan out the space. It then approved another $62,171 agreement with Facility Logix to begin construction of the space and start procuring lab equipment. Both agreements reimburse travel expenses for the firm.
Facility Logix estimates the space will be ready for startups in about 10 months, economic development employee and presenter David Couch told the development authority in October. However, he said city officials would push for a faster project timeline.
The bio accelerator started in space at the Virginia Beach campus of Tidewater Community College in a partnership announced in December 2015, according to VaBeachBio.com.
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