Biotech incubator business aims to grow research in Mansfield
- By Rick Foster firstname.lastname@example.org, Jun 18, 2017
MANSFIELD — In a former glass company plant far from the mainstream of Cambridge biotech culture, a handful of entrepreneurs are hoping to turn the former industrial building into a magnet for biotech research and medical technology.
The Mansfield Bio-Incubator, a remodeled 10,000-square-foot section of the former Owens Illinois building on Francis Avenue, recently welcomed its first tenant. Its builders say they have made a major commitment and believe they can attract other start-ups and small research companies to this corner of tech-friendly Massachusetts.
Chief operating officer Alexander Margulis said crews have been working over the past several months to convert a portion of the seven-plus acre warehouse into a state-of-the-art laboratory, office and conference space. He sees the venture as an economical alternative to the Cambridge and Boston areas, traditionally the seedbed for emerging medical and technology companies.
“People often say they want to be in Cambridge or near MIT, but the space is very expensive,” said Margulis, a research scientist turned entrepreneur.
While other incubator spaces exist in Fall River and on the North Shore, Margulis says this is the first attempt to locate a breeding ground for biomedical businesses in the northern Bristol County-western Norfolk County region.
For potential tenants, he says, the new venture offers the advantage of low costs without having to totally build out their own research space.
The re-purposed building is already equipped with a new, fully plumbed laboratory space and secure rooms for working with human tissue. There is a shared conference room and private quarters that can be used by individual tenants.
To allow the greatest possible flexibility, laboratory furnishings and benches are made to be moveable.
Organizers are planning an open house in the fall to introduce the concept to the business community.
Should there be sufficient demand, Margulis says, more of the giant industrial building could easily be renovated for conversion to lab and office space.
Bio-Incubator President Russ Yukhananov said the organizers are also open to shorter term uses, such as a venture that receives a grant to prove its technology, as well as educational applications.
Treasurer and Bio-Incubator landlord Richard Sousa said the location has several advantages for potential clients including easy access to Boston, proximity to highways and commuter rail, and the fact that it is located in a region already rich in medical technology companies.
The three partners come to the table with considerable scientific and business expertise, according to the Bio-Incubator website.
Yukhananov is a scientist and co-founder of Precision Biosystems, a manufacturing company involved in developing small-scale automation. He is a member of the advisory board at several bio-information companies and scientific journals.
Margulis is a cellular and molecular biologist who worked as a senior scientist at BIOARRAY Therapeutics, a molecular diagnostics start-up. He is also an application scientist at Precision Biosystems, also located in Mansfield.
Sousa is an accomplished business entrepreneur and founder and investor in more than a dozen companies involved in transportation, real estate, software, and medical devices.
One of his ventures, Vam Realty Trust, owns the 63-acre site and 323,000-square-foot building on which the Bio-Incubator is located.
More information about Mansfield Bio-Incubator can be found at the company’s website, bioinc.org.
Rick Foster can be reached at 508-236-0360.
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