The Virginia Biotechnology Research Partnership Authority (“Authority”) is a political subdivision of the Commonwealth of Virginia created by Chapter 946 of the 1993 Virginia Acts of Assembly (the “Act”). The Authority has the power, among others, to plan, develop, construct and equip projects and to fix rents and fees and to issue bonds for qualifying projects. The Act created the Authority to:
- disseminate knowledge pertaining to scientific and technological research and development among public and private entities, including but not limited to knowledge in the area of biotechnology
- promote industrial and economic development
The Authority is governed by a nine-member board of directors consisting of the President of Virginia Commonwealth University (“VCU”), the Mayor of the City of Richmond (or his/her designee), the Virginia Secretary of Commerce and Trade (or his/her designee) and six members appointed by the Governor of the Commonwealth from a list of nominees submitted by the Virginia Biotechnology Research Park (the “Corporation”). In 2004, the most recent amendments to the Authority legislation clarified the statewide role of the Authority as well as potentially providing for expansion of the Board of Directors in the event that the Commonwealth initiates new life science programs through the use of incentives in other parts of the Commonwealth. The name of the entity was changed from the Virginia Biotechnology Research Park Authority to the Virginia Biotechnology Research Partnership Authority at that time.
The Corporation, a private Virginia non-profit, non-stock corporation, was created to complement the purposes of the Authority. The Corporation’s purposes are to promote biotechnological and other scientific and technological research and to promote economic and industrial development. The Corporation’s activities include the administration of the Lighthouse Labs program and the SCORECard event. The day-to-day operations of the Authority and Corporation are the responsibility of the 3-person administrative staff.
In 1993, the City, Commonwealth and VCU participated in the establishment of a research park under the name “The Virginia Biotechnology Research Park (the “Research Park”). The VA Bio+Tech Park is a technology center dedicated to fostering development of Virginia’s biosciences industry through technology transfer, new business formation, expansion of existing businesses and business attraction. Located on 34 acres in downtown Richmond, Virginia, the Research Park is adjacent to the VCU Medical Center.
The VA Bio+Tech Park is intended to be Virginia’s leading corporate research park for life sciences. The Research Park currently consists of approximately 34 acres of developable land. The Research Park currently has seven buildings, totaling over 1.3 million square feet of research, laboratory and office space. This represents a total investment in excess of $600 million and an employment base of over 2,500 individuals (pre-pandemic).
Phase One of the VA Bio+Tech Park was completed in the fall of 1995 and consists of the Bio+Tech Center and Bio+Tech One.
The Bio+Tech Center promotes, serves and incubates Virginia’s biotech/biomedical industry. Funded by $5 million from a statewide bond referendum, the Bio+Tech Center has state-of-the-art laboratories, offices, conference and business resource/support facilities to assist new companies in testing the viability of their ideas. Bio+Tech One is a 100,000 square foot multi-tenant facility, which is immediately adjacent to the Bio+Tech Center and is joined via an atrium and common entry. Established companies and research institutes can be provided custom-fitted laboratory, research and office space to meet their specifications and particular requirements.
Bio+Tech Two, the second phase of the Park, consists of a specialized laboratory, office and training facility built specifically for lease to the Commonwealth’s Department of General Services to house the state headquarters of the Virginia Department of Forensic Science and Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. It also houses the Institute of Forensic Science and Medicine. This facility occupies a 2.3 acre site and comprises a 135,000 square foot, four-level building. It was completed and occupied in the summer of 1998 at a cost of $30 million.
Bio+Tech Three was acquired in March 2012 and was demolished to make way for the first phase of expansion of Bio+Tech Eight. The expansion also required Bio+Tech Five to be razed as well, but added 212,000 square feet of lab and office space for Bio+Tech Eight.
Bio+Tech Six is home to the Virginia Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS). The DCLS building is a $63 million, 191,000 square foot state-of-the-art laboratory leased to the Commonwealth for occupancy by DCLS and the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
Bio+Tech Seven is the national headquarters for the United Network for Organ Sharing (UNOS). It is located on 1.2 acres in the northwest area of the Park, its 80,000 square foot and $17.5 million facilities house over 250 workers in UNOS’ headquarters operation. It also includes the Organ Donation Center and is the repository for the National Organ Donation database.
Bio+Tech Eight is a 76,000 square foot, multi-tenant wet lab capable facility that was constructed by a joint venture with private development interests in partnership with the Authority. The $22 million project included a 299-car parking facility. The two phase expansion for HDL began in March 2012 and added 196,000 square feet, making Bio+Tech Eight the second largest facility in the Park. Currently, the VCU College of Engineering are in the largest amount of space, but the building is also home to a number of other private companies.
Bio+Tech Nine is the Altria Center for Research and Technology. The 450,000 square foot laboratory, office and research facility will consolidate global research functions for PMUSA and will house 600 scientists, engineers and support personnel. The total cost of the project is $350 million, making it the largest single private sector investment in the history of the City of Richmond.