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Community Community News Rancho Santa Fe

Biomedical incubator making room for more researchers

CARLSBAD — Bio, Tech and Beyond is expanding its space and making way for more researchers.

The company opened 18 months ago and is a science incubator which allows researchers and scientists from throughout the region to rent affordable lab space for research and development.

The incubator is best for microbiology and cell biology, co-founder Joseph Jackson said.

The incubator allows scientists to apply for grants to go towards research. Without a work place address, Jackson said, it can be difficult to apply for funding.

Jackson believes the trend in biotech innovation is heading towards contract work so he expects to see more people to branch out on their own to do research.

He said he thinks there aren’t as many full-time jobs in the science sector and that more people are doing temporary work on a project basis.

“These days, you’ve got to get very creative because you’re not going to have a 30-year position in a big (pharmaceutical company). The old industrial research jobs are not really there,” Jackson said.

Jackson believes the biomedical industry is on the cusp of major innovation breakthroughs and he compared it the technology boom of years past.

“We do believe we’re on the cusp of this big transformation that’s going to change the cost structure and make it possible for this to flourish in the way that we saw the IT sector and what we saw in personal computers,” Jackson said.

He believes that the current system isn’t efficient because it takes billion of dollars and years to get an academic idea produced and into the hands of patients.

He said the extreme overhead at universities is troublesome and institutions are starting to see their grant funding dry up.

The incubator, according to Jackson, is much more cost efficient.

“The more we can engage with private philanthropists and patient groups, they can actually understand this is a radically lean way of funding research,” Jackson said.

The company is half non-profit and half for-profit, which Jackson said, allows them to apply for more grants.

He started a hacker space in in Northern California called BioCurious and heard that city officials were trying to start a biomedical incubator in Carlsbad.

After meeting with officials, he and co-founder Kevin Lustig, settled in the former Farmer’s Insurance building on Faraday Avenue.

He said over the past 18 months he’s met with more than 90 entrepreneurs who have expressed interest.

Currently, 12 researchers use the facility. Jackson said the proximity to other researchers forces them to meet and helps facilitate the exchange of ideas.

The space can hold about 20 benches, or separate research areas, and Jackson said two scientists are allowed to use one bench.

Most of the researchers have full-time jobs and use the facility on nights and weekends.

Jackson hopes in the future to partner with community colleges and universities in the area to create jobs for undergraduates.

These types of “hacker spaces” aren’t common yet. Jackson estimated there are about six in the nation.

After 18 months of running, Bio, Tech and Beyond has just added six new benches for researchers along with new equipment and technology.

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