U project looks to future

Posted on August 31st, 2009 by Kelley Luckstein

The first phase of the school's ambitious biotech park opens in October near TCF Bank Stadium.


Vance Opperman is a board director at TCF Financial Corp. and, come Sept. 12, he will watch the University of Minnesota play its first game at the new $288.5 million football stadium that the bank helped pay for.


But for Opperman, a prominent local venture capitalist and a University of Minnesota Law School alumnus, a much more important university facility will open the following month just across the street from TCF Bank Stadium: a 115,000-square-foot lab and office building that will be devoted to high-tech research in memory loss, brain diseases and immunology.u-of-m-bioscience-bldg


The Medical Biosciences building -- along with the existing McGuire Translational Research Facility, Lions Research Building and the Center for Magnetic Resonance and Research -- marks the first phase of an ambitious $292 million plan to develop a 700,000-square-foot biomedical research park on the east side of the U campus. Throw in investor Steve Burrill's plan to raise a $1 billion investment fund to back the Elk Run Biosciences Center in Pine Island, and Minnesota suddenly seems awash in biotech projects.


Despite some impressive research, the U has historically struggled to convert its discoveries into profit. A high-profile partnership with Mayo Clinic hatched two years ago has so far yielded few licensing deals and no start-ups. The U also spent $2 million on University Enterprise Laboratories (UEL), a biotech incubator in St. Paul that failed to meet expectations.


Star Tribune by Thomas Lee, 08/30/09

Tags: biosciences, Business Relations, Minnesota Partnership, Research

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