Governor Tours Construction Progress at Health Center

(Janine Gelineau/UConn Health Center Photo)

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Gov. Dannel P. Malloy got a first-hand look today at the many changes taking place on the Health Center campus. Malloy was joined by University and legislative leaders as they were given a tour and brief overview of the three main Bioscience Connecticut construction projects – the patient care tower, the outpatient care center and The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine.

After the tour, Malloy signed new legislation creating a $200 million Bioscience Innovation Fund. The fund will make investments over the next 10 years in the form of grants, equity investments, loans and loan guarantees to foster innovation in smaller companies.

“Over the last two and a half years, we’ve taken great steps forward in reinventing our economy,” said Malloy. “With the addition of Jackson Laboratories and the investments we are making in our flagship university, we are positioning Connecticut to be a leader in the creation of 21st Century jobs. The Bioscience Innovation Fund will allow us to build on the tremendous progress that’s being made across our state. Little by little, we are turning around years of stagnation and growing jobs for our residents.”

Bioscience Innovations Signing
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy (center) signs new legislation to create the Bioscience Innovation fund, along with Connecticut state legislators. Front row: (left to right) Representatives Elissa Wright, Pat Widlitz, Lonnie Reed, Senators Beth Bye, Gary LeBeau, Joe Crisco and Representative Tony Hwang. Back row: (left to right) Representatives Mike DeMicco, James Albis, Brian Becker. Hidden: Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey and Representatives Elaine O’Brien and David Arcanti. (Tina Encarnacion/UConn Health Center Photo)

The fund will promote economic development by allowing investments in translational research, emerging technologies and new companies.

Construction has been underway for the last year at the UConn Health Center to fulfill all aspects of Bioscience Connecticut – a forward-thinking plan championed by Malloy and approved by the General Assembly in 2011 to create thousands of construction and related jobs in the short term and generate long-term, sustainable economic growth based on bioscience research, innovation, entrepreneurship, and commercialization.

“On the hill in our main building we’ve begun the renovations in our original research labs into modern open collaborative research places where innovation can occur, where physicians and scientists can work together to create the future of health care in this state and beyond,” says Dr. Frank M. Torti, the Health Center’s executive vice president for health affairs and dean of the UConn School of Medicine.

In the year following its groundbreaking on June 2012, all aspects of Bioscience Connecticut have moved forward on time and on budget. Of note, the project has created about 700 construction and related jobs on the Health Center campus in its first year, including higher-than-required averages for small and minority business participation and 82 percent of all work going to Connecticut-based contractors. The number of construction jobs will rise significantly over the next three years.

Governor Malloy tours the Health Center's several construction sites with  Dr. Frank M. Torti, Health Center executive vice president for health affairs and dean of the UConn School of Medicine
Governor Malloy (center) tours the Health Center’s several construction sites with Dr. Frank M. Torti, Health Center executive vice president for health affairs and dean of the UConn School of Medicine. (Tina Encarnacion/UConn Health Center Photo)

“But at the heart of this, it is not the construction, it is the people, the people who will learn to work together to change the face of medical care,” explained Torti. “And the success of these people is completely tied to the legislation the governor signs today in terms of the Connecticut Innovation Fund. It’s a critical piece of what we need to do to move this forward.”

UConn President Susan Herbst also noted the vital connection between Bioscience Connecticut, the Bioscience Innovation Fund and Next Generation Connecticut legislation approved this past legislative session that will greatly expand educational opportunities, research, and innovation in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines at UConn over the next decade.

“The University is deeply grateful to Governor Malloy and the General Assembly for their recognition of the University’s role in economic and workforce development,” she added. “There is strong data to support that these initiatives will work. For example, by investing in STEM, Next Generation Connecticut will generate $146 million per year in new research expenditures and $285 million in new business activity in Connecticut.”

Economic and Community Development Commissioner Catherine Smith said the new fund will build upon the significant investment the state has already made in Bioscience Connecticut. “It is a terrific example of how Governor Malloy’s economic development strategy works: combining the resources of the state, the private sector, and our research universities to enhance our position in the bioscience sector and establish Connecticut as a global destination for leading edge medical innovation.”

Governor Malloy at the Bioscience Innovations Fund bill signing.
Governor Malloy speaks at the Bioscience Innovations Fund bill signing. (Tina Encarnacion/UConn Health Center Photo)

In addition, Smith noted the progress of the new Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, which broke ground in January and is on schedule for occupancy in the fall of 2014. The 189,000-square-foot facility will house research laboratories, offices for scientists and administrators, conference areas to support scientific collaboration, and leading-edge genome analysis technology.

“We are proud to be here and proud to be helping Connecticut build a stronger life sciences industry,” said Mike Hyde, vice president for external affairs and strategic partnerships at The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine’s. “Meaningful partnerships with institutions of higher learning will allow us to tap into the best minds in the state, so that we can make the medical advancements that will have a direct impact on people’s lives.”

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