Three companies that graduated from the University City Science Center and later were acquired by large pharmaceutical companies all got their start in the same lab space along Market Street in West Philadelphia.
Centocor, one of the first monoclonal antibody biotech companies, was among the first of the 350 entities that have graduated from their initial home at the Science Center. It was based in Malvern when Johnson & Johnson bought the company in 1999. BioRexis, which specialized in developing protein-based therapies for diabetes and other conditions, used the same lab space where Centocor started before moving out to King of Prussia and later being acquired by Pfizer. And Avid Radiopharmaceuticals, which has developed an early way to detect Alzheimer’s disease, was in the same space before moving to larger facilities on the campus where it remains as a unit of Eli Lilly & Co., which bought Avid last year.
“If we could price karma, we’d price that lab a lot higher than our others,” saidStephen S. Tang, who was named president and CEO in February 2008 after a nationwide search.
The Science Center is the country’s oldest and largest urban research park, having opened for business in 1963.
Among its other graduates are life sciences companies Morphotek, now in Exton, BioNanomatrix, which is shifting its headquarters to California, and Integral Molecular, which has moved to larger space in the same building Avid occupies.
The Science Center’s mission is to support technology commercialization and technology-based economic development, both on its West Philadelphia campus and throughout the region. It fulfills that mission by providing lab and office space for startup companies as well as growing and established businesses. The Science Center, in addition to serving as a business incubator, also provides a variety of support services and programming for entrepreneurs and early-stage companies.
In the Philadelphia area, 93 companies that graduated from the The Science Center incubator employ 15,000 people who make an average salary of $89,000. Science Center resident and graduate companies return about $64.5 million in taxes to the city and state each year.