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State to invest $5 million in the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center (PABC) to support early stage companies at its two incubators

Doylestown, Pa. - Nov. 17, 2022 -State legislators joined the CEOs of the nonprofit Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center (PABC) and Brandywine Realty Trust to announce today that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is making a $5 million investment in the PABC’s new Academic Innovation Zone program.

Ranked as one of the nation’s most successful life sciences incubators, the PABC operates two facilities. The headquarters and original location is in Doylestown, and B+labs at Cira Center is in Philadelphia. B+labs is run by the PABC in partnership with Brandywine Realty Trust.

The PABC’s Academic Innovation Zone initiative will directly support early stage companies and academic technologies in the life sciences at both its Doylestown and Philadelphia incubators. More than 100 companies, mostly small to mid-size science, research and pharmaceutical entities, are PABC member companies. Nearly 50 have operations in the Doylestown facility and 15 are located in B+labs.

“This sizable grant not only will allow us to expand our services to help promising companies grow, it is a significant statement from some of the state’s top elected officials about their confidence in the PABC,” Louis P. Kassa III, MPA, president and CEO of the PABC said. “The Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center has produced several thousand new jobs and generated more than $10 billion dollars in economic impact over the past 16 years, and the Academic Innovation Zone will greatly enhance and accelerate our efforts.”

Kassa said credit for this foresighted investment goes to state Senator Vincent Hughes of Philadelphia, Senator Steve Santarsiero of Bucks County and Representative Matt Bradford of Montgomery County. All three visited the PABC last year to get a firsthand look at the operation.

“Investments in biotechnology will help transform Pennsylvania’s economy,” said Senator Santarsiero said. “We have an opportunity to build a biotech corridor, beginning right here in Bucks County, that will connect with other hubs across Pennsylvania and enable us to compete with other states and countries in this industry. This is an important investment, but as a state we still have much more to do.”

Kassa also expressed appreciation to Brandywine Realty Trust President and CEO Jerry Sweeney for played a key role in developing the PABC’s Academic Innovation Zone concept.

“The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has a tremendous opportunity to accelerate this moment of rapid growth as a top Life Science market,” said Jerry Sweeney, president and CEO of Brandywine Realty Trust.” This commitment at the state level allows us to put a key program into action that will not only bring more companies and talent to the region but keep them here and solidify Greater Philadelphia as the best place to build and grow a life science company.”

The Academic Innovation Zone program will offer turnkey laboratory and business services, available for rapid use by entrepreneurs or newly formed companies with promising ideas but limited resources.   

The program has three specific aims.

  1. Talent scouting: Staff will scout for and solicit new innovations that are a good fit for the program, using area academic, nonprofit and government research institutions, and promote this service to major pharmaceutical companies looking to spin out early stage companies.
  2. Selection of talent and innovations: Entrepreneurs will apply for use of labs and services, and a committee of experts will select applicants that are most promising and likely to benefit from the space and services.
  3. Research space and professional services: State-of-the-art biology and chemistry research labs will be designated for this program. Proposals and Entrepreneurs selected for this program will receive lab space access to professional services, including business formation planning and assistance in seeking additional funding.

Pennsylvania has a clear need for this type of initiative, planners say. Our state is 4th nationally for patents and 5th in the country for National Institutes of Health funding, with 88 universities and colleges within a 50-mile radius of Philadelphia. But a 2019 report from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development said, “Pennsylvania has steadily fallen behind those state who have continually increased their support for entrepreneurship and technology-based economic development initiatives.”

Funding for the PABC’s Academic Innovation Zone (AIZ) is a one-year pilot grant through the Pennsylvania Department of Health and totals $5 million. The largest share will go toward company personnel, primarily scientific staff and management. The grant also will fund equipment, supplies and services at the two locations.

The AIZ plan intends to accelerate early stage companies and technologies through the PABC’s highly successful model. The goals are both scientific advancements and economic development.

The PABC’s Doylestown campus, which was opened in 2006, includes a two-story building completed late last year, providing new laboratories, conference rooms, offices and an event space. The PABC received more than $9 million in grants from federal and state agencies for the expansion.

B+labs in Cira Centre cover three floors of the striking high-rise in University City adjacent to Amtrak’s 30th Street Station. Life science leaders occupying B+labs include Asklepios Biopharmaceutical (AskBio), BriaCell Therapeutics, Carisma Therapeutics, Quanta Therapeutics, Synapticure, Tmunity Therapeutics and Vitara Biomedical.

About the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center (PABC): 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 that will make a difference. Managed by the Institute and led by a board appointed by the Foundation, PABC has more than 100 member companies, mostly small to mid-size science, research and pharmaceutical companies. Nearly 50 of those companies have operations on the Doylestown campus. In partnership with Brandywine Realty Trust, the PABC opened B+Labs at Cira Centre in Philadelphia’s University City in January 2022.

About Brandywine Realty Trust: Brandywine Realty Trust (NYSE: BDN) is one of the largest, publicly traded, full-service, integrated real estate companies in the United States with a core focus in the Philadelphia, Austin and Washington, D.C. markets. Organized as a real estate investment trust (REIT), we own, develop, lease and manage an urban, town center and transit-oriented portfolio comprising 168 properties and 23.1 million square feet as of Dec. 31, 2021 which excludes assets held for sale. Our purpose is to shape, connect and inspire the world around us through our expertise, the relationships we foster, the communities in which we live and work, and the history we build together. For more information, please visit