13 Dec BioAg technology center gathers momentum
Madison, Wis. – The new plant-based technology cluster that civic leaders hope to cultivate in Madison’s southeast corner is becoming a reality. Now a mostly undeveloped field, the planned space is already attracting investments that promise to create a business campus dedicated to the refinement, manufacture, and commercialization of new bio-agricultural technologies.
Private allocations and public grants are bolstering plans for the Wisconsin BioAg Gateway, a center for agriculture and biotechnology incubators, technology transfer operations, laboratories, offices, and exhibition space.
Due to the furor over Congressional earmarks, the lynchpin project, a controlled environment greenhouse called the Midwest Biolink Incubator, will not receive the $150,000 in federal funds that had been announced in June by U.S. Rep. Tammy Baldwin.
However, the City of Madison has set aside 27 acres of land within the World Dairy Center business park and $40,000 to create the campus. Another 180 acres of undeveloped land would serve as space for testing fields and an agricultural showcase.
The Wisconsin BioAg Institute, an organization comprised of bio-agriculture experts and stakeholders, will provide oversight, marketing, and project implementation. Madison Development Corp. has agreed to apply for a state grant to manage market feasibility and outreach.
Michael Gay, project manager with the City of Madison’s Office of Business Resources, said the development of the area will happen with help from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, with offices already in the park, and private firms like PLANET, LLC and its strategic partner, Orbital Technologies Corp. (ORBITEC).
Tom Crabb, president of PLANET and co-founder and CFO of ORBITEC, said he is looking to expand his companies’ operations onto the new campus. There, the companies will broaden plant manufacturing operations to help move basic research discoveries to commercialization.
ORBITEC, known primarily for its aerospace work, also is developing plant-based applications for life support, air and water recycling systems, and genetically tailored protein manufacturing studies. One project involves applications of spider silk for the U.S. Army. With the ability to apply its processes to the pharmaceutical market, Orbitec’s market is projected to grow to between $10 billion and $30 billion by 2010, Crabb said.
In March of 2007, Danisco, the Copenhagen-based maker of biological ingredients used in food production, is slated to complete its new 18,000-square-foot research and development facility across from its existing location on the BioAg campus.
Doug Willrett, senior business director for Danisco, said the company is placing the new laboratories in Madison based on its proximity to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, which provides consulting, testing, research services, and a source of skilled labor.
• Baldwin backs funding for Midwest biotech incubator
• Michael Rosen: The worldwide growth of ag biotech
• Doyle announces $5 million in state budget for bio-based industry development