Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Science and Technology

Growing life science companies

BioLOGIC, Covington's life sciences accelerator, is expanding. Not only do city leaders hope to fill the space but they are counting on the bright ideas and talented workforce to help lure other life science companies to the area. Ann Thompson reports in "Focus on Technology."

This creative thinking space, complete with biology labs is about to get bigger. BioLOGIC will triple its size next month and is actively looking for more start-up science companies. Managing Director Keith Schneider runs down a list of already successful businesses in the bio-accelerator at Pike and Russell.

“In the facility already, we have companies that have licensed technology from Children’s-which is Bexion, a couple of companies which have technology from the University of Cincinnati, one is in the dairy market and another one is Surgical Energetics, which has a medical device they’ve licensed from UC.”

Bexion Pharmaceuticals is testing cures for cancer and Surgical Energetics has a sutures mechanism for connecting tissue to bone in orthopedic patients. In this accelerator environment BioLOGIC helps to grow businesses from the idea phase to commercialization. There are 14 companies in the space and Schneider says before the expansion they were bursting at the seams.

“An example was this past Monday we had a meeting in the conference room, which is right now presently, our only conference room and so the office next door to it turned into a conference room and my office turned into a conference room and when I came back from a meeting, I didn’t know where to station myself.”

Schneider says BioLOGIC is the only life sciences incubator within 90 miles. Another one, BioStart, closed more than a year ago in Cincinnati. The expansion of BioLOGIC was possible with the help of grants from the City of Covington, The Duke Energy Foundation and the Haile US Bank Foundation. Separately, Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties are very focused on life sciences. Senior Vice President of Northern Kentucky Tri-ED Karen Finan says the area has the workforce, the real estate and other opportunities in that sector.

“From a regional standpoint we certainly have global giants like Procter and Gamble, Johnson and Johnson and then as you delve closer into Northern Kentucky, we have PPD Global Labs, Viacord, a cord blood processing bank in Hebron, KY and a number of other life science companies.”

Finan is responsible for attracting economic development to Northern Kentucky. She says out of town companies look to see if there are qualified workers and research and development resources.  She says they are finding them in Northern Kentucky. Five to seven years ago she says Tri-ED took a very targeted approach, looking at sectors it felt could strategically succeed in this area.

“When we looked at life sciences we felt we could be extremely successful. We targeted a number of groups to come to NKY and over the long-term we have cultivated their interest.”

Finan says while she can’t name companies there will be a number of announcements over the course of this year and next of life science businesses relocating to Northern Kentucky.

“Biologic success is critical to our success in attracting other life science companies and other companies to the region. They have brought with them a highly scientific workforce. They have brought a number of R&D initiatives, that are important not just to the city and this particular region, to the country and for international use.

BioLOGIC’s expansion will likely help. New companies will begin moving into the incubator in early March.

“Our goal is to be the first stop and the first step for anything in life science. They can start here and if there are resources on the Kentucky side that are good for them we’ll take them that direction, if it’s on the Ohio side, we can work through that as well.”

Ohio and Indiana aren’t sitting idly by.  A recent study shows the life sciences industry in Ohio has a 53 billion dollar economic impact. Indiana says the sector has a 50-billion dollar total impact on its economy.

For Cincinnati Edition, I’m Ann Thompson