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Business Review Western MI
Business Review Western MI
Bio R&D
(2007-11-07)
(wgvu) - Bio R&D center progressing

Nov. 8, 2007

By Mark Sanchez
marks@mbusinessreview.com

Transforming a former Pfizer Inc. lab in Holland into a bio
research-and-development center is on track amid high interest in the
project.

Numerous companies have come forward to inquire about using the center
for research projects, said Randy Thelen, president of the economic
development group Lakeshore Ad vantage.

Lakeshore Advantage also has been contacted by about a dozen start-up
companies around the country interested in moving into a business
accelerator planned as part of the R&D center.

It's not hard to imagine this facility is going to have industry
research taking place on a major scale, Thelen said.

Pfizer decided last May to donate the closed $50 million facility on
the north shore of Lake Macatawa to Michigan State University.

Lakeshore Ad vantage helped to broker the deal between Pfizer and MSU
and has been leading a capital campaign to finance conversion of the
facility.

Supporters of the project envision the center becoming a hub of bio R&D
into materials using agricultural and plant materials, rather than
petroleum or chemicals.

The center would fit well with the region's manufacturing base of
plastics molders, auto suppliers and office furniture makers, Thelen
said.

The growing demand for sustainable materials and products has made the
bio center primarily a market-driven project, MSU President Lou Anna
Simon said.

It's gone a bit from a university-driven research program to an
industry-driven research program, Simon said.
We're getting more and more participants and better ideas than we
had in the beginning.

MSU aims to raise about $5 million for the project, Simon said.
The capital campaign is now in its quiet phase, appealing to large
potential benefactors, MSU Vice President of Development Chuck Webb
said.

MSU trustees still have to formally accept the donation from Pfizer, an
action that Simon expects could come by the end of this year or in early
2008.

The Holland center would add to the R&D facilities in western Michigan
that include the Van Andel Institute in Grand Rap ids, and Grand Valley
State Un i versity's Lake Michigan Center and Michigan Alternative and
Renewable Energy Research Center, both in Muskegon.

Pfizer previously used the three-story, 138,000-square-foot building
for drug development.

The state in June awarded $3.42 million to Lakeshore Advantage to cover
operating costs for the center.

The funding was finally released last week after state lawmakers
finalized a budget.
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