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The University of Texas at Austin, Austin Technology Incubator and City of Austin Open Commercial Laboratory Facility

October 28, 2010, AUSTIN, Texas—The University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy, the Austin Technology Incubator (ATI) and the city of Austin have announced the creation of the UTech Dorm Room, a cooperative research laboratory designed to provide laboratory space for entrepreneurs to develop life-sciences technologies and evaluate their commercialization potential.

The UTech Dorm Room lab facility will be in the College of Pharmacy. While most labs at the university are devoted to the research of a particular faculty member, the UTech Dorm Room will enable bioscience entrepreneurs outside the university community to contractually reserve wet lab space for a period of time as they test and develop their technologies and potential products.

Individuals who have an idea for a life science technology may apply to the program through the college’s Drug Dynamics Institute (DDI), which will oversee the lab. The companies who use the lab will retain their intellectual property rights.

“Austin is a community of thinkers and bioscience entrepreneurs,” said Dr. Janet Walkow, director of the DDI. “People all over the city have ideas for novel products. Many of these great ideas are never fully developed due to a lack of lab space facilities, where new ideas can be tested.”

Wet labs have the facilities such as water, ventilation and built-in safety features needed to test chemicals, drugs or other biological matter. They can be expensive to outfit and maintain. That’s why the opportunity for entrepreneurs to “rent” this type of space is critical for developing ideas that could lead to discoveries, Walkow said.

The UTech Dorm Room hopes to encourage interaction between life-sciences start-up companies and the university faculty, to reduce barriers to commercialization and to accelerate local and economic development by opening up the university to life-sciences entrepreneurs.

“An educational component involving both undergraduate and graduate students will be an integral component of the Dorm Room effort,” said Lynn Crismon, dean of the College of Pharmacy. “Not only will this assist in developing students’ entrepreneurial skills, it also will allow them to work with laboratory quality management practices.”

The UTech Dorm Room is ATI’s demonstration project to provide a commercial laboratory environment to accelerate start-up commercialization, said Dr. Cindy WalkerPeach, ATI-Biosciences director. “What we learn from the project will be coalesced with information from other ‘best practices’ lab incubators as part of ATI’s Economic Development Administration grant to study a stand-alone facility to serve the Central Texas biosciences community.”

“All of us at the city of Austin are very pleased with this new partnership with the university’s College of Pharmacy and the Austin Technology Incubator,” said Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell.  “The life-sciences industry holds great promise as a future driver of Austin’s economy. Working together to provide new resources like the UTech Dorm Room to our local life-sciences entrepreneurs, we can help realize that promise sooner rather than later.”

“We’ve seen the success of our other technology incubator projects with the University of Texas at Austin,” said City Manager Marc Ott. “This is a worthwhile investment to provide that same kind of support to innovative thinkers in the life sciences who may not otherwise have access facilities that can help them transform their ideas into reality.”

About the Austin Technology Incubator

The Austin Technology Incubator is a nonprofit unit of The University of Texas at Austin that harnesses business, government and academic resources to provide strategic counsel, operational guidance and infrastructure support to its member companies to help them transition from early stage ventures to successful technology businesses.  Since its founding in 1989, ATI has worked with over 200 companies, helping them raise close to $750 million in investor capital.  ATI is a key program of the IC2 Institute at The University of Texas at Austin.  For more information, visit www.ati.utexas.edu.

About the Drug Dynamics Institute (DDI)

The Drug Dynamics Institute (DDI) is a collaborative research center that brings together extensive scientific expertise and experience and implements approaches to eliminate barriers to collaboration and commercialization.  This approach creates an interactive environment that fosters cooperative efforts between scientists and investigators, including collaborations with University of Texas faculty, Texas Institute for Drug Diagnostics and Development (TI3D) investigators, the Austin Technology Institute (ATI), Office of Technology and Commercialization (OTC) and numerous other academic and industry partners. Visit http://www.utexas.edu/pharmacy/utech.

About the University of Texas College of Pharmacy

The University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy is one of the premier institutions of pharmaceutical education and research in the country.  The college is home to more than 500 professional students as well as more than 100 graduate students.  Faculty within the college oversee research supported by more than $13 million. Visit http://www.utexas.edu/pharmacy.