GateWay CC hopes to build wet lab

March 12, 2008

By hammersmith

[Source: Eugene Scott, The Arizona Republic] – GateWay Community College hopes to use nearly $800,000 of bond money to build a bioscience incubator research laboratory.The “wet lab” would be a minimum of 5,000 square feet and at the campus location on 40th and Washington Streets. On Wednesday, the city’s Parks, Education, Bioscience and Sustainability subcommittee is expected to recommend that the Phoenix City Council enter into an intergovernmental agreement with the college.

A wet lab is a research space where chemicals and other subjects being tested require water, ventilation and suitable plumbing. City officials hope the lab’s proximity to the Phoenix Biomedical Campus and other researchers will help spur the city’s growth in the bioscience sector.”This space will be coupled with the kind of support that other organizations around the Valley have wanted to provide for bioscience research around the Valley,” said Rick Naimark, deputy city manager. One of the “missing links that we don’t have here is inexpensive space for small startup ventures ideas to germinate,” he said. “This really is a great opportunity to fill that gap.

“Staffers said growth in Arizona’s bioscience industry sector is double the growth nationally, according to the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. A major goal of the city is that the place would be utilized by new ideas with little funding. Research brings in much-valued dollars to the area.”You’ll be able to continue on with your research towards the product and your ideas and help make them marketable,” Naimark said.

Researchers will also have access to legal and business experts that can help them with the non-science aspects of their projects.GateWay would dedicate $2 million to the project and plans to obtain additional funding to expand the lab. City staff recommends using $792,000 in Life Science Research Park bonds to reimburse the college for costs. Construction would end by July 15, 2009. Gateway will design and build the lab and plans to lease space at below-market rates. The college will fund the lab’s operations and maintenance for at least 25 years while providing the city with an annual progress report.

Susie Pulido, director of institutional advancement at Gateway, said the college responded to a request for proposals to build the wet lab after hearing about the need for affordable research space.”GateWay being responsive to the community felt it was our mission and our goal to enhance this area. And it complements our very established health care programs,” Pulido said. “As an education institution in the city of Phoenix, we felt this was a win-win for the state, our students and certainly the workforce.” The college desires to be a major birthplace of innovation in Arizona.

Establishing a workplace for students and researchers to further explore untapped areas will move Gateway closer to its goals. “We have numerous bioscience programs and this just enhanced what we are doing to be able to create a model that has start up incubator companies in them and training workforce under the same roof,” she said. “It is a very exciting and unique model for the state.”Arizona has put a lot of money into attracting research scientists, Pulido said. These professionals will need support staff and collaborators. “For each scientist we bring in town, they are going to require technicians in their workforce as their studies and what they are working on begins to grow and spin-off companies begin to exist in the Valley,” she said.