One year later: ACC Bioscience Incubator provides innovative environment for life science entrepreneurs

In its first year, Austin Community College’s (ACC) Bioscience Incubator (ABI) not only matched expectations, but exceeded them. More than 800 unique visitors from 10 countries toured the innovative space and more than 65 life science companies expressed interest in admission into ACC Bioscience Incubator. ABI has built a pipeline of biotech companies across the U.S.. There are currently nine member companies at the wet lab incubator with scientific projects ranging from environmental testing to new brain cancer therapeutics.

The Bioscience Incubator is accelerating Central Texas’ biotechnology economy by providing fully-equipped wet laboratory space and $1.2 million in biotechnology equipment to member life science companies while also training a highly-skilled workforce. The state-of-the-art, flexible facility moves technologies from ideas to products, allowing life science entrepreneurs to focus on innovation.

“This is innovation at its finest, which is what ACC is all about,” says ACC President/CEO Richard Rhodes.

“The laboratory space at ABI is astounding,” says John S. Higley, CEO, Principal Scientist, Environmental Quality Operations (EQO). “EQO joined for access to wet lab space, and a few other items, but have been able to expand our service offerings and products substantially due to our ability to leverage additional equipment and expertise. This company would not be possible without the space and equipment offered by ABI.”

Zebra mussels, an invasive species, are now a huge problem in central Texas lakes. ABI member company EQO is using molecular biology techniques to solve this problem and protect the native environment.

“As a scientist with an idea, starting a successful business was a daunting challenge,” says Higley. “The support and advice provided by ABI and Austin Technology Incubator led to our company joining an accelerator program, refining our business canvas, learning how to pitch, and most importantly, positive, ongoing relationships with numerous business experts, successful entrepreneurs, startup programs, and other scientists. We are well on our way to long term success. The support and expertise at ABI has been crucial to this development.”

Companies admitted into the ABI can take advantage of many resources, including a pool of ACC student interns.

Students use lab equipment at the ACC Bioscience Incubator.

Mike Delisi was pursuing a linguistics degree until he realized his passion for biotechnology. As an intern for ABI, he tested equipment and planned the layout of the various labs. He helped establish framework for day-to-day activities, such as managing and optimizing the inventory system, writing standard operating procedures for the various laboratory devices, receiving daily shipments of supplies, and creating and performing a regular maintenance schedule for the facilities and equipment. He also had the opportunity to train new interns, work on a pharmaceutical optimization project with a client company, and contribute to cancer research.

“ABI has done more to prepare me for a career in biotechnology than I can adequately express in words,” says Delisi. “I gained a vast wealth of experience, mentorship, and opportunities to establish connections and work with industry professionals. This is a great place for any aspiring biotechnician.”

“We’ve made significant strides in establishing the Bioscience Incubator as a critical hub in central Texas’ life sciences community,” says Tyler Drake, PhD, Director. “We will continue building our startup, mentor, and student network to support science entrepreneurship.”

The one-year anniversary was celebrated March 7.

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