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Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center to support promising life sciences startups through its new Academic Innovation Zone program

Through a pilot program aimed at accelerating and supporting life sciences startups in our state, the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center (PABC) will provide financial support and free lab space to more than a dozen startups at the PABC in Doylestownits B+labs incubator in Philadelphia and elsewhere in Pennsylvania. 

The PABC’s new initiative, the Academic Innovation Zone, is managing $5 million through the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from the federal Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Funds. 

Ranked as one of the nation’s most successful life sciences incubators, the PABC operates two facilities. Headquartered in Doylestown, the PABC operates B+labs at Cira Centre, a two-year-old facility in University City, PhiladelphiaThere are nearly 70 companies at the two locationsand both are filled to capacity with a waiting list of other life sciences companies interested in locating at a PABC facility.    

The goal of the Academic Innovation Zone is to support early stage life science companies and academic technologies, while attracting companies to Pennsylvania and creating more high-quality jobs. Over the last year, this initiative has helped companies relocate to Pennsylvania from New York City, Delaware, Utah and Toronto. Three companies already at the PABC in Doylestown: Aprea Therapeutics Inc., Evrys Bio LLC and Incite Health, are using the funds to expand their footprints as they prepare for clinical trials. 

The 11 companies that have received PABC Academic Innovation Zone support since the first allocations were made last September are: 

  • Aprea Therapeutics, Doylestown, 

  • Eliska Therapeutics, Doylestown, 

  • Evrys Bio, Doylestown

  • Incite Health, Doylestown, 

  • Merlin Biotech, Inc., Doylestown, 

  • Serna Bio, Philadelphia, 

  • Nucleate Regional Hub, Philadelphia, 

  • Synergy Therapeutics, Doylestown, 

  • Nous Biosciences, Doylestown, 

  • Virion Therapeutics, Philadelphia, and 

  • Young TherapeuticsDoylestown. 

Additionally, significant funds have been allocated for new company creation at B+labs in Philadelphia. 

This is a pilot fund to help recruit academic technologies and newly formed companies to Pennsylvania, and to retain the best biotech inventions that emerge from our universities,” Louis P. Kassa III, MPA, president and CEO of the PABC, said.Our goal is to propel, accelerate and support early stage biotech companies by providing funding, services and lab space.” 

The PABC has a strategic partnership with the Wistar Institute and companies at PABC incubators are commercializing technologies from the University of Pennsylvania, Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia, Princeton University, the University of Utah and other institutions. 

The Academic Innovation Zone program has engaged two talent scouts, who are highly experienced biotech experts, to find companies for both incubators as well as other locations in Pennsylvania. 

A committee composed of biotech scientists and professionals in venture capital, business development and commercial real estate selected the 10 companies for funding and free lab space in this first round. 

Expanding the program statewide is one of the AIZ team’s goals, according to Kassa. They have been talking with legislators and Gov. Shapiro’s administration about funding for that purpose. 

About the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center 

Located in Doylestown, Pa., in the heart of the Philadelphia-New Jersey pharma belt, the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center (PABC) is a nonprofit life sciences incubator-accelerator offering state-of-the-art laboratory and office space to nearly 50 early-stage biotech companies. The PABC uses a highly successful services-based approach to nurture and guide its member companies to success, advancing biotechnology, maximizing synergies among nonprofit scientists and their commercial colleagues, and launching new ideas and discoveries. To date, more than 75 companies have called PABC their home. PABC tenants account for 17% of all National Institutes of Health SBIR grants awarded in Pennsylvania and over the years have created billions of dollars in market value from IPOs, acquisitions and commercial valuations. For more information, please visit the PABC website. 

About B+labs 

B+labs is a newly constructed, state-of-the-art, 50,000-square-foot life sciences incubator in the heart of University City, Philadelphia, a hub for top talent and renowned healthcare and academic institutions. Powered by the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center (PABC), it provides flexible plug & play lab and research space within a specialized network of resources, programming and expertise. B+labs is part of Brandywine's Life Science ecosystem, which provides life science companies with the platform to grow into bigger users in the region, with flexibility for seamless expansion into larger graduation space. For more information, please visit