Jackson Lab: Biomedical advisory group adds two new members

Chuck Hewett speaks during a recent press conference at the Naples Hilton where Jackson Laboratory announced  its first partner in a developing a biomedical park in eastern Collier County will be the University of South Florida in Tampa. Lexey Swall/Staff

Photo by LEXEY SWALL // Buy this photo

Chuck Hewett speaks during a recent press conference at the Naples Hilton where Jackson Laboratory announced its first partner in a developing a biomedical park in eastern Collier County will be the University of South Florida in Tampa. Lexey Swall/Staff

Florida Gulf Coast University president William Bradshaw met with university staff at Alico Arena Thursday to give a state of the university address.  Michel Fortier/Staff

Photo by MICHEL FORTIER // Buy this photo

Florida Gulf Coast University president William Bradshaw met with university staff at Alico Arena Thursday to give a state of the university address. Michel Fortier/Staff

— An advisory group for the Jackson Laboratory and biomedical park project has added a few more faces and will start meeting soon to help with the development of the long-term endeavor in eastern Collier County.

On a parallel front, Barron Collier Co. has engaged a leading commercial real estate firm to help identify potential partners in the biomedical park proposed on several hundred of acres off Oil Well Road. Likewise, a California-based venture capital firm has expressed interest in working with start-up companies that would go into the park.

New additions to the Biomedical Leadership Council are William Bradshaw, president of Florida Gulf Coast University, and Chuck Hewett, chief operating officer for the Maine-based Jackson Laboratory.

“I think this is the group for now,” said Blake Gable, president of real estate development for Barron Collier and a member of the council.

What’s proposed with state and local funding of $260 million if fully secured, is having Jackson build a nonprofit genetics research institute on 50 acres on Oil Well Road and serve as an anchor to attract other research and commercial interests in the emerging field of personalized medicine. Barron Collier is donating the 50 acres and several hundred more acres for the proposed biomedical park.

The project has been a undertaking of the Economic Development Council to diversify the local economy and create new higher-wage jobs.

The biomedical leadership council has yet to start meeting and will need to spend some time talking about how to proceed, Gable said. The council will meet in private and does not include government representatives.

When the council’s formation was announced in July, the members on board then were Gable, Karen Holbrook, vice president for research and innovation at the University of South Florida in Tampa; and Richard Molloy, principal of Florida Gulfshore Capital, a Naples-based venture investment firm. Additional members are Edmundo Muniz, president chief executive officer of Tigris Pharmaceuticals, a Bonita Springs-based clinical stage biotechnology company, and Douglas VanOort, chairman and chief executive officer of NeoGemonics Laboratories, based in Fort Myers.

The council’s first chairman is Dolph von Arx, former chairman, president and chief executive officer of Planters Lifesavers Co., chairman of The Conservancy and Regional Business Alliance of Southwest Florida.

“We were trying to find a balanced group,” von Arx said, referring to a cross section between people with backgrounds in clinical research and those from a pharmaceutical perspective.

Barron Collier also has contracted with CB Richard Ellis, a national commercial real estate firm which has a life sciences group to help identify potential partners in the biomedical park. Although the firm has local offices, Gable said the life sciences team works out of several locations elsewhere in the United States.

Gable also said a venture capital firm, Sequoia Capital, based in Menlo Park, Calif., has expressed interest in working with start-up companies that would locate in the park during their early- and growth-stage development.

Lastly, Baron Collier has an agreement to work with the Southwest Florida Workforce Development Board, along with Edison State College, to provide recruitment assistance and training programs for some of the educational and job training that employees in the park would need.

“So the people hired are hired here,” he said.

von Arx said Barron Collier’s contract with CB Richard Ellis will help with the networking to gain interest in the biomedical park.

“I view the partnership with Ellis as form of a multiplier to give us more exposure more quickly,” he said.

__ Connect with reporter Liz Freeman at www.naplesnews.com/staff/liz_freeman

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