$15M in Allocations Will Accelerate Life Sciences Ecosystem Development by Constructing Much-Needed Space and Expanding Capacity for Pharma Manufacturing.
RICHMOND, Va., February 15, 2023 – Activation Capital, an innovation ecosystem development organization, today announced that it has received $15M in funding from the Commonwealth of Virginia to accelerate the development of Central Virginia’s life sciences sector, including expanding regional capacity for end-to-end essential medicine research, development, and manufacturing. This historic funding totaling $66.7M statewide, will strengthen life sciences in three regions, including greater Richmond-Petersburg, to help secure the Commonwealth’s leadership position in the burgeoning sector.
“We applaud Governor Glenn Youngkin, Commerce and Trade Secretary Caren Merrick, and members of the General Assembly for this investment in the Commonwealth’s life sciences sector. More broadly, it is truly an investment in the Commonwealth’s future,” said Chandra Briggman, President and CEO of Activation Capital. “Jobs in this sector pay 87 percent higher than the U.S. median. Increasing our stake across education, research, and innovation will greatly benefit the statewide economy. With this new funding, the Central Virginia region will add critical infrastructure, deepen our specialization needed to be competitive in this sector, and fuel the next generation of innovation and economic development.”
As part of its mission to accelerate innovation in life sciences and technology, Activation Capital operates the VA Bio+Tech Park in Richmond, Virginia. This 34-acre Park is a hub for commercial life sciences and is home to over 70 companies, research institutes, and state/federal laboratories. Currently operating at maximum capacity, the Park has lost an estimated 45,000 square feet of rentable income in the last 12 months alone.
In response to the growing demand at the VA Bio+Tech Park, Activation Capital will leverage $10M of the funding to create a new 102,000-square-foot Innovation Center in the Park. This expansion will immediately accommodate companies relocating to the Capital City region and accommodate homegrown companies in need of specialized space and support to build deep tech ventures. The Innovation Center will offer lab and office space to house a range of companies – from start-ups to university innovation to larger enterprises.
“In the spirit of collaboration that makes our ecosystem so strong, the Innovation Center will operate within the City Center Innovation District planned by the City of Richmond – complementing and enhancing the vision Mayor Levar Stoney has for transforming downtown,” said Kipton Currier, Vice President of Operations at Activation Capital. “Together, we will help reinvigorate downtown around innovation with this new project positioned as the epicenter of research, commercialization, entrepreneurship, and innovation. It will also serve as an inclusive platform for our local community members to participate in and benefit from the growing opportunities in the life sciences sector in the region.”
In addition, $5M of the funding will support building capacity to produce key starting materials (KSMs), basic ingredients of medicines, in Central Virginia. Doing so will solidify Virginia’s position as the leading hub for end-to-end manufacturing of essential medicines. Since 2020, Activation Capital has helped convene a coalition of advanced pharmaceutical manufacturing leaders in the region, known as the Alliance for Building Better Medicine. The Alliance is working to produce an end-to-end domestic supply of essential medicines locally. This growing coalition was awarded seed funding from GO Virginia and earned $52,942,702 as winners of the national Build Back Better Regional Challenge. It is working to define the region as where affordable, high-quality medicines are researched, accelerated, and sustainably created in the U.S. from start to finish.
“Little, if any, manufacturing of key starting materials currently occurs in the U.S., creating a significant gap in achieving an integrated and secure supply chain for essential medicines,” said Joy Polefrone, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Alliance for Building Better Medicine. “This funding will address this gap, accelerate collaboration and innovation in this crucial area of the industry, and act as critical seed funding to building a globally competitive manufacturing hub. Doing so has the potential to significantly reduce the environmental burden and cost of manufacturing, increase access to quality medicines for Americans, and create high-wage jobs in historically underserved communities in our region.”
Briggman added, “For this historic level of funding to be truly transformational, we must continue to add capacity to the Central Virginia region and other regions to respond to life science sector opportunities. We look forward to working with our peers across the Commonwealth to help build a more sustainable statewide economy through a stronger life sciences sector.”
The funding, which was approved during the 2022 Special Session of the Virginia General Assembly, is administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) in partnership with the State Council of Higher Education and a task force comprised of the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority, Virginia Economic Development Partnership Authority, Virginia Initiative for Growth and Opportunity Board, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia and staff directors of the House Committee on Appropriations and the Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriations.
About Activation Capital
Activation Capital is a leading innovation ecosystem development organization providing social, knowledge, and financial capital to clusters, entrepreneur support organizations, and entrepreneurs – accelerating their progress through development and maturation. Activation Capital, an independent authority of the Commonwealth of Virginia, is on a mission to grow life sciences and other advanced technology innovation by promoting scientific research, commercialization, and ecosystem development that attracts and creates 21st-century jobs and companies. It operates the 34-acre Virginia Bio+Tech Park – the hub of life science and technology innovations in Central Virginia, oversees the Cluster Accelerator for Advanced Pharmaceutical R&D and Manufacturing, and supports the development and expansion of the region’s start-up ecosystem. For more information, visit www.activation.capital.