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Bringing Bioscience to Life in Gwinnett

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A recent report published by consulting firm McKinsey & Company ranked the amount of community benefit (jobs created, products, etc.) derived from each $1 of capital invested according to the industry – bioscience ranked number one.

Recognizing this industry”s potential as a driver for economic growth, the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce has launched a Bioscience Initiative. Comprised of three parts, the initiative seeks to draw bioscience technology to Gwinnett through venture capital funding, commercialization infrastructure and workforce development.

"Over the last 10 years the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) has poured several hundred million dollars into our universities and recruited rock-star caliber scientists to Georgia. The eminent scholar program has been a huge success, and we have world-class scientific research in process in our university laboratories," said Brock Stanton of Jabez Ventures.

Some bioscience companies are already here, like Merial and Serologicals. Experts predict the 21st century will be the century of biology, and people like Stanton want Gwinnett to be part of the action.

According to the Gwinnett Chamber”s Director of Economic Development Chris Moder, "Bioscience is one of the strategic growth industries for the state. Right now we have about 150 bioscience-related companies in Georgia. Out of the top 20 bioscience companies noted by the Metro Atlanta Bioscience Council, eight are in Gwinnett. Bioscience brings high skill and wage types of jobs to Gwinnett."

Currently the large venture capitol funds in Boston, New York and the West Coast are reluctant to invest in Georgia and Southeast firms. But in order to accomplish this initiative, new bioscience companies need funding. Stanton and his firm, along with the Chamber, are actively raising a bioscience and technology venture capital fund that will help fuel the development of the corridor (Highway 316) that connects Gwinnett to Athens.

"Because venture capital is an active form of investing, venture capital firms prefer to invest in local companies. However, if a local venture capital firm takes the lead it is very common for venture capital firms to syndicate deals. As the Georgia bioscience community grows and produces more and more success stories, more capital will become available to further fuel the bioscience economic development engine," said Stanton.

The Georgia Bioscience Joint Development Authority (made up of representatives from the four counties along the corridor) is currently looking for land on which to develop a park for firms coming from university incubators.

Workforce training is already in place. UGA”s School of Pharmacy at the Gwinnett University Center has a program dealing with bioscience, and Gwinnett Tech recently established a Bioscience program that will offer a technical certificate of credit to prepare clinical research professionals.

"Gwinnett Technical College”s Bioscience program is developing other programs for the near future, including both healthcare opportunities and laboratory technical positions. Currently in the works is a program to educate technologists to assist with the latest procedures in hospital heart labs. Similar programs are not available at other colleges in the area," said R