Wednesday, May 20, 2009
ATLANTA - With more than 1,800 exhibitors displaying everything from the latest biotech manufacturing equipment to ideas for biofuel production, Michael Gay of Madison is promoting something else: An agricultural biotechnology business park.
The BioAg Gateway, a new business park proposed on Madison's southeast corner, will include up to 200 acres of buildings devoted to the research and development of agricultural products, new crop uses, and new ways to produce "green'' fuel for the nation's energy-hungry economy. Another 300 acres surrounding the business park that could be used to grow - and experiment with - new crops.
"I've met with a number of pharmaceutical and food companies that have expressed interest,'' said Gay, managing director of the BioAg Gateway and a business development specialist for the city.
Some examples of what the incubator could produce are in the fields of bio-plastics, or non-petroleum-based plastics, biofuels and biopharmaceuticals, which in the past have produced such products as the cervical cancer vaccine from corn and cancer treatments from lettuce.
The Madison City Council recently approved applying for a $3.5 million federal Economic Development Administration grant to help advance the project, which would begin with a 31,000-square-foot business incubator for scientists with new ideas for the nation's agricultural food, fiber and fuel production. That includes about 6,000 square feet of laboratory space, 6,000 square feet for controlled greenhouses and 19,000 square feet that could be tailored to companies that want the space.
The federal grant requires a 25 percent local match, which would amount to about $1.2 million in new city investment in the incubator, plus the cost of transferring the land to Madison Development Corporation, a non-profit that has signed on as a partner with the city according to EDA requirements.
Gay is a part of the Wisconsin pavilion at BIO, and is using his time to contact potential partners from across the United States, Europe and Asia.
- Mike Flaherty