The University of Iowa is opened what it calls a life sciences incubator on its Coralville research campus. The $8.5 million BioVentures Center aims to attract start-up biosciences companies with 35,000 square feet of space. Tom Sharpe is executive director of the U-of-I’s Research Park.

Sharpe says: "It includes laboratories, office space, some shared equipment for those companies. They lease that space from us and then this also gives them access to the rich array of resources at the University of Iowa." That array, he says, includes faculty expertise, specialized equipment and top-flight facilities. He says the BioVentures Center has 16 offices and 20 laboratories.

"About half of those are accounted for now," Sharpe says. "We’ll have a half-dozen companies moving in as we start and then we’re actively marketing the facility and our programs to other companies." The 20 labs are so-called "wet laboratories" which are specially-constructed areas with appropriate plumbing, ventilation and equipment to allow for hands-on scientific research and experimentation.

The U-of-I is already involved in a number of biosciences efforts — researching areas including Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and blinding-eye diseases. Sharpe says the new facility will help the compelling research in biomedicines to move along at an even faster pace.

"Probably 80% or so of the sponsored research that we have at the university is in the life sciences, so that’s where we would expect the majority of the opportunities for new start-up companies to come out of our research laboratories," he says.

Promising research is already underway in many other areas, he says, like educational testing, simulation, industrial bioprocessing, biomedical imaging, hydraulics, bioinformatics, environmental health and more. The BioVentures Center is located just north of Interstate 80, about a mile north of Coral Ridge Mall.