When Hurel Corporation outgrew its incubator space at the Commercialization Center for Innovative Technologies (CCIT) in North Brunswick, New Jersey in 2016, it marked an important milestone for the biotechnology company.
After a little more than five years at CCIT, Hurel graduated from the incubator with best-in-class technology and a promising future to intermediate lab space that was available at the same research campus. Hurel’s CEO, Robert Freedman, attributes his company’s success to the variety of resources available in New Jersey including access to affordable lab space, access to funding, as well as a supportive ecosystem that encourages discovery.
The story of Hurel’s rise out of the incubator is not unique in New Jersey. While New Jersey is home to the headquarters or major facilities of 13 of the top 20 biopharmaceutical companies in the world, biotech companies of all sizes are thriving here. In fact, more than 40 start-up biotechnology companies have graduated from CCIT alone since the incubator opened in 2002, including high profile graduates like Celgene, Advaxis, Chromocell and Amicus Therapeutics.
Executives at these companies, like Robert Freedman at Hurel, are harnessing the resources available in New Jersey to take their technologies and companies to the next level.
Lab Space for Companies at Every Stage of their Growth
Finding quality, affordable lab space can be a challenge for companies large and small. Fortunately, with more than 8.3 million square feet of laboratory space, as well as additional space being developed to meet the strong demand, New Jersey has the physical resources to accommodate biotech companies at every stage of their growth – from incubators to intermediate and stand-alone space at research parks and hubs.
For start-up companies, New Jersey’s incubators offer access to both wet and dry labs, as well as a variety of support services, technical assistance, access to funding and mentoring to help them grow in New Jersey. In addition to CCIT, which is strategically located in New Jersey’s research corridor between Princeton and Rutgers universities, there are incubators throughout the state with more on the way.
The Enterprise Development Center (EDC) at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) in Newark is home to more than 90 start-up companies, which can access NJIT facilities, researchers, mentors and programming to help grow their businesses. Located in South Jersey just thirty minutes from Philadelphia, the South Jersey Technology Park (SJTP) at Rowan University also offers wet labs as well as incubator and office space for technology businesses. A showpiece of SJTP is its Virtual Reality Center, where companies conduct research in a VR collaborative environment.
To accommodate the needs of New Jersey’s growing number of biotech start-ups, Princeton University will debut its Innovation Center, an off-campus incubator that will open in the fall of 2017. The new incubator will provide a host of resources including wet labs for chemical, biological and pharmaceutical research.
Hackensack Meridian Health also has approved a $25 million capital fund to support biomedical innovation, including incubator space on the Seton Hall-Hackensack Meridian medical school campus. The incubator will be housed at ON3, a campus currently being planned by Prism Capital Partners on the former Hoffman-La-Roche site in Nutley/Clifton. The ON3 campus, which also will be home to Seton Hall University’s schools of Nursing and Health and Medical Services, will also offer 555,000 square feet of flexible space for biopharmaceutical companies of all sizes in two new buildings on the campus.
The ON3 campus is not the only new site that will offer quality laboratory space for New Jersey’s growing biopharmaceutical community. With an eye toward attracting the talent companies require to drive innovation and growth, the new campuses under development include amenities that appeal to a millennial workforce and that biotech companies want and need to foster a spirit of collaboration.
Somerset Development is creating a vibrant campus environment with a city feel on the former site of historic Bell Labs in Holmdel. At Bell Works, in addition to custom-tailored environments to meet individualized company needs, the two-million-square-foot, glass-enclosed complex will include shops, cafes, restaurants and other amenities, as well as an on-site hotel and conference center upon completion.
The New Jersey Center of Excellence already has an impressive tenant roster than includes global and emerging companies. In addition to a state-of-the-art laboratory environment, the 110-acre site is being developed with residences, restaurants, a wellness center, shops and recreational amenities.
Additionally, The Hub @ New Brunswick Station, a soon-to-be-built 1.7 million-square-foot mixed used redevelopment project, takes advantage of a strategic location directly across from the New Brunswick train station and within walking distance of Rutgers University and Johnson & Johnson. The Hub will consist of multiple buildings with flexible designs to meet the research and laboratory requirements of biopharmaceutical companies at every stage of their growth.
Funding to Support Biopharmaceutical Innovation
Access to funding to support innovation and growth also can be a hurdle for many biopharmaceutical companies. New Jersey excels here too.
The number two region for National Institute of Health (NIH) funding and with corporate R&D funding exceeding $14 billion each year, New Jersey also offers attractive state incentives and access to venture capital funding to strengthen companies at every stage of their development, including incentives specifically created to support start-up and early-stage ventures.
Biotechnology start-ups can access several programs available through the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA), the State agency responsible for administering business programs. For example, the Technology Business Tax Certificate Program (NOL) allows New Jersey-based biotech companies to sell their New Jersey net operating tax losses and R&D tax credits to unrelated profitable corporations to monetize their losses to fund their growth and operations. Since the program’s inception, more than 500 companies have been approved for awards totaling more than $905 million.
The NJEDA’s Angel Investor Tax Credit Program also has been a popular way for start-up companies to access the capital they need to support their operations. The program provides refundable tax credits against New Jersey corporate, business or gross income tax for 10 percent of a qualified investment in an emerging technology business. Out-of-state and foreign investors are eligible for the program.
To ensure the availability of capital at a company’s critical stage between product development and commercial operation expansion, the NJEDA announced in April (2017) the creation of the NJ CoVest Fund to provide growth capital for early-stage biotechnology companies. The NJEDA expects to begin accepting applications in the third quarter of 2017.
To support biopharmaceutical companies as they grow, the Grow New Jersey Assistance Program (Grow NJ) can provide tax breaks for biotech companies creating as few as 10 jobs or retaining as few as 25 full time jobs. Tax credits for qualified projects range from $500 to $5,000 per job, per year, over 10 years. A number of bonus credits, each ranging from $250 to $5,000 per job, per year, may be available if the project meets certain requirements.
In addition to providing tax credits and incentives specifically designed to support biotechnology companies, NJEDA holds its Founders and Funders event semi-annually through which select early-stage companies have the opportunity to meet with angel and VC investors in 10-minutes, one-on-one sessions to discuss strategy, business models and funding opportunities.
An Ecosystem that Supports Collaboration
In addition to quality laboratory space and funding opportunities, biopharmaceutical companies that settle in New Jersey benefit from its high concentration of biopharmaceutical companies, research centers and universities, which increase the potential for partnering to support innovation and growth.
With 13 of the top 20 biopharmaceutical companies in the world, 12 of the world’s top companies for R&D productivity, more than 440 contract research organizations and 120 contract manufacturing companies, biotech companies need look no further than their own backyard to find potential partners. In addition, New Jersey’s colleges and universities have a long history of collaboration with the private sector to bring innovative technologies and cutting-edge products to market. Collaborations are currently underway in biopharmaceutical fields as diverse as cancer research, synthetic chemistry research, continuous manufacturing and neurosciences at the state’s nationally-recognized research institutions including Princeton University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Rowan University, Stevens Institute of Technology and Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
In addition to opportunities for collaboration, New Jersey biopharmaceutical companies have access to the highest concentration of scientists and engineers in the world – more than 225,000 at last count – as well as the second-largest life sciences talent pool in the U.S.
With access to quality lab space, funding and an ecosystem that supports innovation, it is little wonder the state’s biopharmaceutical companies are flourishing and that New Jersey is consistently ranked among the fastest-growing biotechnology hubs in the nation.
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Bio: Michele Brown is President and CEO of Choose New Jersey Inc., a privately funded non-profit organization that markets New Jersey as a premiere business location. Choose New Jersey offers a wide range of complimentary services for companies interested in locating or expanding in the State.