During a tour of the UConn Health Center in Farmington Wednesday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy stopped to sign new legislation creating a $200 million Bioscience Innovation Fund.
“The Bioscience Innovation Fund will provide the means to support the translation and commercialization of cutting edge science in such sectors as therapeutics, diagnostics, medical devices, bioinformatics and testing,” said Claire Leonardi, CEO of Connecticut Innovations, the organization that will administer the fund.
“This is a very exciting time for bioscience as the cycle of discovery is ever more rapid. On behalf of CI, I’d like to thank the governor for recognizing the opportunity to build on Connecticut’s incredible bioscience assets. The industry’s future will be driven by innovation, and the fund’s investments will be a catalyst for that growth.The new fund is meant to "foster innovation in smaller companies" over the next decade through "grants, equity investments, loans and loan guarantees," according to a press release from Malloy's office.
“Over the last two and a half years, we’ve taken great steps forward in reinventing our economy,” Malloy said in a statement. “With the addition of Jackson Laboratories and the investments we are making in our flagship university, we are positioning Connecticut to be a leader in the creation of 21st Century jobs. The Bioscience Innovation Fund will allow us to build on the tremendous progress that’s being made across our state. Little by little, we are turning around years of stagnation and growing jobs for our residents.”
In 2011, the General Assembly passed Bioscience Connecticut, according to the press release. The plan is part of Malloy's economic development initiative and is expected to add as many as 3,000 construction jobs a year on average until 2018 through UConn Health Center renovations, according to the health center's website.
Construction at the health center began in 2012 and is on schedule, the release stated. To date, the project has created 700 jobs, according to Malloy's office.
“This project is not only creating jobs, but is creating energy and a momentum that will put Connecticut on track to regain our legacy of economic leadership and innovation,” Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman said in a statement. “The emerging bioscience industry plays to all of Connecticut’s strengths, and these are the tools and the resources we need to take advantage of those assets for generations to come.”
Bioscience Connecticut also seeks to spark long-term economic growth by bolstering the bioscience industry, according to the release. According to Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis statistics reported in 2011, the initiative could generate a "$4.6 billion increase in personal income" and create "16,400 permanent jobs by 2037," the health center's website states.
Malloy noted the Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine's partnership with the UConn Health Center as example of a source of short- and long-term job growth in the release. Construction on the 189,000-square-foot building broke ground in January and the facility is slated to open in the fall of 2014, according to the release.
"Scientists at JAX Genomic Medicine are building collaborations among doctors, researchers and the biomedical industry to bring research findings into the clinical setting," the release stated. "Their goal is to discover precise genomic solutions to disease, improving care, lowering costs and increasing life span and health span."
The laboratory has awarded $108 million in bid packages for the construction project, including about $94 million that is going to Connecticut-based companies and about "$30 million in contracts to small businesses and minority-owned companies," the release states.
Dr. Frank M. Torti, the Health Center’s executive vice president for health affairs and dean of the UConn School of Medicine, and UConn President Susan Herbst thanked Malloy and the General Assembly for their support.