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Charlottesville BioHub Awarded $548,000 GO Virginia Grant To Grow and Develop Biotechnology Innovation in the Region

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – December 16, 2019 – The CvilleBioHub has been awarded $548,000 from the GO Virginia initiative to lead the growth and expansion of the biotechnology innovation cluster in Central Virginia. The two-year grant will enable the organization to drive new company formation and support the growth and retention of existing companies through increased programming and infrastructure development. It also will allow for a workforce initiative to attract, develop and retain top talent within the region.

“This is the biggest opportunity for the region to build the biotechnology innovation cluster in a way that it hasn’t been done before — from the ground up and in service to existing and emerging companies,” said Nikki Hastings, executive director of CvilleBioHub. “GO Virginia is enabling us to do this important work. We have set out the vision, and this is the mechanism for us to have a greater impact.”

The grant required a 1:1 match with 20 percent contribution of the grant request also matched from economic development localities. Major partners include UVA Licensing & Ventures Group, Albemarle County, Charlottesville City, UVA Economic Development and the Quantitative Foundation.

The GO Virginia Regional Growth and Development Grant is a follow-on to an initial more than $80,000 Enhanced Capacity Grant awarded to CvilleBioHub in 2018. That grant funded a strategic plan and comprehensive industry report to guide the organization and its member companies forward.

CvilleBioHub is the first grant awardee in Region 9 to receive this back-to-back funding, according to Shannon Holland, GO Virginia Director, Region 9, Central Virginia Partnership for Economic Development. The grant embodies what GO Virginia is about, as it is industry-led, engaged with higher education and local government, and driving the creation of higher paying jobs, Holland added.

“This project is advancing several opportunities identified in the Region 9 Growth Plan Update that will drive industry and economic growth,” said Jim Cheng, Chair of GO Virginia Region 9. “We expect more great things from CvilleBioHub as they work to expand the economic impact of the life sciences cluster in our region and connect it statewide.”

In the next two years, the funding will support CvilleBioHub in its efforts to increase programming and network expansion, including the organization’s first-in-kind Entrepreneur-In-Residence (EIR) program to provide invaluable business resources to companies. The EIR program, in collaboration with the UVA Licensing & Ventures Group and UVA Economic Development, will launch in early 2020.

The organization will also develop a wet lab incubator to bring a vital and in-demand need to emergent companies. Beyond the UVA Research Park, the region does not currently offer adequate facilities to support early-stage biotech companies, which include lab bench tops with built-in infrastructure to handle the specialized power, HVAC and water needs of labs handling liquids, biological materials and chemistries.

“Our goal is to develop a plan that includes programming to solve for the space and facilities problem, so that it is not a limiting factor for companies coming here and growing here,” Hastings said.

Candidate matching opportunities and the establishment of a CvilleBioHub Internship Program will help the region close the gap between the leakage of talent from UVA and companies that are growing here and struggling to find top talent, Hastings added.

The region already hosts the highest density of biotechnology companies across the state. CvilleBioHub’s ten-year vision is to double the size of the biotechnology and life sciences industry in Charlottesville and Central Virginia, and form the foundation of a technology-based economy for the future.

About CvilleBioHub
The CvilleBioHub is a non-profit organization founded by industry leaders in 2016 to support the biotech community in Charlottesville/Albemarle County and the surrounding region. Today, the region is home to 66 companies working to improve human health through drug development, medical device innovation, clinical research, diagnostics, software, tools and instrumentation. Learn more at cvillebiohub.org.

About GO Virginia
GO Virginia is a statewide economic development initiative led by Virginia’s business leaders to foster private-sector growth and job creation through state incentives for regional collaboration among business, education, and government. The initiative was created in 2017 and has funded more than $21 million dollars and leveraged over $32.4 million in other funds to support over 60 projects to drive growth and diversification in all regions of Virginia. The Central Virginia Partnership serves as the support organization for the GO Virginia Region 9 Council, also referred to as the Piedmont Opportunity Corridor. The Region footprint includes: the City of Charlottesville; and the counties of Albemarle, Culpeper, Fauquier, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Madison, Nelson, Orange, and Rappahannock. For more info visit www.GOVirginia9.org.

For media inquiries, please contact CvilleBioHub Executive Director Nikki Hastings at nikki@cvillebiohub.org.

Nikki is an engineer, entrepreneur, and operations executive.