This Albuquerque Launchpad Lets Biotech Companies Take On a Life of Their Own

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At The BioScience Center, an incubator for biotech and life-science startups in Albuquerque, N.M., entrepreneurs are encouraged to stay for at least three years. “Biotech has a little bit longer runway,” says Lisa Adkins, COO and director of the center, which launched in 2013. “It takes them longer to get going and certainly to get funded and to get to proof of concept and whatever sort of testing they need to do.” Not to mention, she adds, to get through the protracted FDA-approval process.

For founders on this path, the 20,000-square-foot center provides offices and wet chemistry and microbiology labs at below-market rates ($23 per square foot for office space; $25 for labs); alternatively, founders can exchange a small percentage of their equity or future revenue for use of the space. Either way, the package includes an assortment of industry mentors, workshops and mock pitch sessions.

So far the privately owned incubator, founded by Stuart Rose, a serial entrepreneur with more than four decades in the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry, has hosted about 20 startups developing vaccines, medical devices and research tools. Three of them have since moved to their own space, Adkins says. The center also houses an attorney, a technical writer, a prototype-development company and other anchor tenants that provide startups with reduced-rate services.

For Rodney Herrington, an engineer who invented a hand-held water purifier, the avalanche of information he has received since joining the center in 2013 has been priceless. Same goes for the referrals to manufacturers, investors and other potential partners his incubator colleagues routinely share.

“There are people in the building who are saying, ‘Since you’re looking for financing, here’s another angel investor you might be interested in.’ That’s quite valuable,” notes Herrington, whose H2gO Purifiers now sell at REI and other sporting-goods stores as well as to nongovernmental organizations offering assistance in developing countries.