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Universities Make Pitch for Economic Development Money

James Q. Lynch

The Gazette

February 2, 2006

[Note: This material is copyright by The Gazette, and is reproduced here as a matter of "fair use" for non-commercial, educational purposes only. Any other use may require the prior approval of The Gazette.]

   AMES — Bioscience in Iowa is the ‘‘real deal’’ that could produce thousands of jobs, public university officials will tell state lawmakers today in a pitch for funds to help secure federal grants.

   Meredith Hay, University of Iowa vice president for research administration, and her colleagues will ask lawmakers for $3 million a year for three years. That would help them go after competitive grants that the National Institutes for Health will award later this year as part of an initiative to speed the commercialization of university-based research.

   The UI, Iowa State University and University of Northern Iowa also will seek $41 million for facilities, equipment, scientific resources and other ways to attract and retain top researchers and their teams, in a bid to generate commercial innovations from their research.

   ‘‘This isn’t ‘gee whiz’ any more,’’ Hay said after a presentation at the Board of Regents in Ames Wednesday. ‘‘This is the real deal. New therapies, new medicines are being developed in labs in Iowa and we’re telling them we want to capture those o p p o r tunities and keep them in Iowa.’’

   Hay said she e x p e c t s a warm reception from members of the Economic Development Appropriations Subcommittee.

   Many Iowans are aware of the success of bioscience companies such as Integrated DNA of Coralville with more than 300 employees, she said. But the combination of federal grants, university research and private sector continues to generate new businesses, Hay said.

   They include Bio::Neos, an Iowa City start-up that develops special software to aid pharmaceutical companies and biotech research groups, particularly in mutation discovery.