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Monday, January 27, 2003

Vilsack Announces $50 Million Initiative to Make Iowa a Leader in Life Sciences

DES MOINES - Governor Tom Vilsack today announced a plan to invest $50 million of the Iowa Values Fund into the creation of a life sciences initiative to help establish Iowa as a leader in life sciences.

"Iowa is well positioned to become a worldwide leader in life sciences if we take action now," Vilsack said. "The Regents Universities have enormous capabilities in plant sciences and in human health and medicine, and we have leading experts in private industry conducting cutting edge research, development and production in biotechnology right here in Iowa."

Vilsack said his new initiative, developed with the Regents Universities, Iowa Business Council and leaders in Iowa's biotechnology industry, is a crucial step in transforming Iowa's economy.

The plan focuses on a three-part strategy:

A New Mindset
Vilsack said the first step toward making Iowa a leader in the life sciences is creating a stronger and coordinated state approach for entrepreneurial ventures in biotechnology-related industries in Iowa. This will also include better coordination among the Iowa Department of
Economic Development (IDED), Iowa Regents institutions, and private sector business leaders to attract economic opportunity that will help transform Iowa's economy.

A Regulatory Framework
As part of the new approach, Vilsack will call for the creation of a state regulatory framework that minimizes risks associated with bioengineered products, ensures safety, and maintains public
confidence. This includes adopting a clear framework for crop producers who choose to invest in the production of transgenic crops aimed at pharmaceutical and enzyme development.

Innovative Support for Start-up Companies
This effort will provide public investment and enhanced support for new and expanding Iowa companies or those wishing to relocate to Iowa. This includes three basic approaches for providing the life sciences infrastructure needed to attract new companies:

1. An outreach program to accelerate new business creation and recruitment including enhanced incubator support functions;

2. Enhanced facilities for new business incubation and innovative genetic transformation in plants and animals;

3. Enhanced facilities for human pharmaceutical development, including facilities for new business incubation and other services.

Vilsack said the budget for the $50 million life sciences initiative
emphasizes four key areas:

 

$4 million Outreach program to accelerate new business creation, including new business incubator support functions, including operational expenses and personnel.
$14 million Construction of and equipment for new business incubator support facilities and R&D support for innovative genetic transformation, including incubator facilities, transgenic animal facilities, and transgenic plant facilities.
$15 million Construction of and equipment for new business incubator facilities and R&D support for human pharmaceutical development.
 
$17 million Construction of protein extraction facilities and services.

Today's announced $50 million investment in life sciences infrastructure is part of the Iowa Values Fund, Vilsack's proposal for a $500 million fund to help transform Iowa's economy. In addition to the $50 million announced today, $250 million of the Iowa Values Fund will be designated for developing the three key industry clusters of life sciences, advanced manufacturing, and information solutions. A portion of the Iowa Values Fund will focus on regional economic development efforts statewide.

Vilsack continued, "This initiative will increase the number of farmers planting high valued transgenic crops for pharmaceutical or enzyme development, increase biotechnology start-ups across Iowa, and increase our ability to recruit new companies that can provide Iowa families and communities the quality of life we value."