New tenants moving into Life Sciences Corridor

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January 16, 2006 // UPDATED 2:04 pm - April 26, 2007
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie

Five new companies headed to Elliot Park

Five new companies are moving into the Elliot Park Life Sciences Institute this month — a home for health-care researchers and medical device startups.

The institute sits within the city’s Life Sciences Corridor — a cluster of health-care organizations that spans about two miles along Chicago Avenue. It features three major hospitals, Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC), Abbott Northwestern and Children’s.

City officials branded the 25-block area as the Life Sciences Corridor in 2003 to encourage additional investment and development in the city’s biosciences sectors.

Companies in the corridor, along with businesses in biosciences zones in St. Paul and Rochester, also have received tax breaks. The cities have divided up $1 million in state tax credits.

The Elliot Park Life Sciences Institute, a 62,000-square-foot building, sits on the northern edge of the corridor and is closely tied to activities at HCMC.

The new tenants include:

- Stryker Trauma, a New Jersey-based company that specializes in orthopaedic medical devices for trauma patients;

- Devicix, a Chaska-based company that provides engineering consultation for medical device startups;

- Dimensional X-ray Inc., a Blaine-based X-ray manufacturer;

- Alexandria Research Technologies Inc., an Eden Prairie-based company that develops products for orthopedic surgeries; and

- The Genesis Business Centers, a Columbia Heights-based high-tech incubator program.

Genesis, founded by investor Harlan Jacobs, has overseen Elliot Park’s biosciences business incubator.

Genesis also manages an incubator in Elk River that focuses on software and energy companies, as well as one in Rushford, Minn., that specializes in nanotechnology. Another incubator focused on a broad range of emerging technologies is in the pipeline for Wilmar, Minn.

Dave Durenberger, director of operations for the Midwest Orthopaedic Research Foundation (MORF) and a key player in the Life Sciences Corridor initiative, said the companies will bring new energy to the institute.

While the companies will initially occupy relatively small offices, Durenberger said he’d like to see the businesses expand operations.

The institute’s other major tenants include MORF and the Gustilo Medical Education Center, a for-profit company that supports the research foundation’s work.

Peter DeLange, CEO of Devicix, said he’s looking forward to benefiting from the synergy at the business incubator. Devicix will maintain its suburban office in addition to the Elliot Park location. The two-year-old startup already works with one of the institute’s tenants, Dynamic Spine Inc.

“What I really hope happens is that the smaller companies are able to take advantage of other resources in the building,” he said.

Corridor vitals

Besides three major health-care campuses, the Life Sciences Corridor has 19 health-care institutions and 61 research and clinical labs.

All told, it employs about 2,300 physicians and 12,000 other health-care workers.

The corridor’s health-care organizations attracted 1 million patients in 2004 and received more than $25 million in research funds.

Efforts to draw attention to the Life Sciences Corridor fit in with a broader strategy to bolster the city’s health-care sector.

According to city statistics, 12.7 percent of Minneapolis residents work in health care, said Mike Christenson, the city’s economic development director.

“It’s our lead industry,” Christenson said. “We have five major health-system campuses within the city. All five are expanding. All five are adding jobs.”

City officials are working to facilitate additional job growth, particularly positions for high-end researchers, Christenson said.

Partnering with Japan

Advocates of the Life Sciences Corridor also have partnered with city leaders on forging stronger relationships with the biosciences community in Ibaraki, Japan.

Minneapolis and Ibaraki have had a sister-city relationship for 25 years.

A delegation, which included City Councilmembers and Durenberger, visited Ibaraki in November to visit the city’s high-tech biosciences cluster.

The Japanese government has invested billions of dollars in capital in its biosciences sector.

Developing ties with Japanese companies by capitalizing on the city’s ties with Ibaraki could be a boon for companies in the Minneapolis Life Sciences Corridor, Durenberger said.

Without the connections, local companies face significant hurdles breaking into the Japanese market.

“It’s not how big you are. It’s actually who you know there,” he said.

Durenberger plans to visit Ibaraki again next September with other Minneapolis leaders.

Jacobs echoed Durenberger’s thoughts on the new partnership with Japan.

“We think we can be the gateway for the Japanese companies to come into not only medical alley, but the Minneapolis Life Sciences Corridor,” he said. “In a similar vein, we’d like to be a gateway or portal back to Japan for Minnesota and Minneapolis companies that have a need to go there.”