GateWay Community College receives boost toward new wet lab

March 24, 2008

By hammersmith

Compiled from media reports

With an eye toward easing Arizona’s shortage of sophisticated commercial laboratory space, a Phoenix City Council subcommittee has recommended allocating $792,000 in bond money to support GateWay Community College‘s development of at least 5,000 square feet of wet-lab space at its planned Bioscience and Education Center on its Phoenix campus.

The Council’s Parks, Education, Bioscience and Sustainability subcommittee agreed with GateWay officials who reasoned that the project would help address unmet needs in the state’s bioscience infrastructure, namely a shortage of affordable laboratory space for startup bioscience companies and insufficient biotechnology workforce development. Both issues were identified as gaps in 2002 in Arizona’s Bioscience Roadmap.

“I see it as an essential part of building the programs here, so I’m grateful that you’re making the investment,” Councilwoman Maria Baier said in the Arizona Republic.

“We have numerous bioscience programs, and this just enhanced what we are doing to be able to create a model that has start-up companies and training workforce under the same roof,” said Susie Pulido, director of institutional advancement at GateWay, in the Republic. “It is a very exciting and unique model for the state.”

GateWay, which already has strong nursing and other healthcare education programs, is angling to become a hothouse for early-stage bioscience firms. The 80,000 square-foot Bioscience and Education Center planned for Gateway’s campus at 40th and Washington Streets will be funded mainly by $18 million from the passage of a 2004 bond initiative, and will include offices, classrooms, and teaching laboratories.

Additional funds are needed for the wet labs, which are more costly to construct because of their specialized ventilation and plumbing systems. The City of Phoenix bond money would cover some of that cost, and GateWay has pledged an additional $2 million. According to the college, nine labs would be built and then leased to bioscience start-ups at below-market rates.

Entrepreneurs seeking to develop concepts, products, and devices would benefit from cut-rate rent, but GateWay students would benefit as well, since they would have opportunities to work in the labs and learn technician-level skills.

GateWay officials have said that both the start-up companies and students will benefit from the central location of the new facility. The GateWay campus is on the light-rail line, near the Tempe and downtown Phoenix campuses of Arizona State University, as well as the downtown Phoenix biomedical campus, which includes the Translational Genomics Research Institute and the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix in Partnership with ASU.

“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, in the Republic.

For more information:

Phoenix panel urges an okay for GateWay college wet lab,” Arizona Republic, 03/13/2008

GateWay CC hopes to build wet lab,” Arizona Republic, 03/10/2008