Governor Dannel P. Malloy, joined by state Department of Administrative Services (DAS) Commissioner Donald DeFronzo, state Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) Catherine Smith, Head of Pfizer Pharmatherapeutics R&D Rod MacKenzie, PhD, representatives from Connecticut's bioscience research organizations, and other state and local officials, today announced that an agreement has been reached to put two vacant buildings on Pfizer's Groton campus back into productive reuse as a bioscience innovation center for Connecticut United for Research Excellence (CURE) and as a new DAS state data center.
"This agreement is great news for Groton and the surrounding region, and the culmination of months of negotiations between Pfizer, CURE and DAS that, in the end, will provide an economic boost in southeastern Connecticut," said Governor Malloy. "CURE Innovation Commons is an investment that will pay rich dividends to Connecticut citizens for years to come in the way of good paying jobs with good benefits. When CURE Innovation Commons opens amidst the Pfizer campus it will add a valuable and much-needed resource for southeastern Connecticut technology companies and scientific talent, one that will spur the discovery, research and development of cutting-edge new medicines."
The agreements are as follows:
Pfizer will donate Building 286 to CURE for the development of CURE Innovation Commons, a technology incubator that will serve as a hub for entrepreneurs, scientists and start-up and growing businesses alike.
At its February 28th meeting, the State Bond Commission approved a $4.2 million grant for CURE Innovations, LLC, a subsidiary of CURE, to fund renovations and initial costs associated with CURE Innovation Commons.
Pfizer will lease Building 230 to the State of Connecticut that will house the state's new data center at a rental rate of $1 per year, which will save the state millions annually.
"Pfizer welcomes CURE to our Groton research site, the largest in our global R&D network," said Rod MacKenzie, PhD, Group Senior Vice President, Head of Pfizer Pharmatherapeutics R&D and Groton Laboratories Site Director. "Having CURE in such close proximity and working closely with our 3,000 Pfizer colleagues here in Groton will not only support our objective of turning critical scientific discoveries into valuable therapies for patients in need but also demonstrates Pfizer's commitment to supporting a robust innovation community here in Connecticut. We thank Governor Malloy for his support and collaboration to help make this a reality. It is quite clear that the Malloy administration is committed to further strengthening Connecticut's role as a leader in cutting-edge life sciences research."
CURE Innovation Commons, approximately 24,000 square feet in size, will house up to seven laboratories, numerous offices, conference rooms and a large meeting space. It could accommodate six to nine separate companies and there will be some space to accommodate startup projects. The Commons will welcome tenants with a wide breadth of research and development interests, including in chemistry, pharmacology, medical device, information technology, biomedical engineering, and clinical trial-related services. New initiatives in agriculture and marine science, also aspects of southeastern Connecticut's technology story, will contribute to the multi-disciplinary shared-working environment.
"At one level, CURE Innovation Commons addresses a very practical end--the need for additional lab space in southeastern Connecticut," said CURE president Susan Froshauer. "More importantly, it will help draw together the valuable but, to date, underutilized pools of life sciences and other technical talent in the area. It will be a catalyst for innovation, entrepreneurship and the knowledge-based economy so critical to Connecticut's future."
"The state's new IT data center will support the critical work of some 50,000 state personnel whose work is highly dependent on the smooth and reliable operation of the state's IT network, including public safety related functions," said DAS Commissioner Donald DeFronzo. "We require a disaster recovery facility where the IT systems and data are backed up and readily available in the event of a catastrophe, allowing Connecticut to re-position its disaster recovery capabilities and providing significant advantages to the state. The challenge of finding a new site for the Connecticut Data Center has been a long and difficult one, but today is a result of a plan that allows DAS to meet its state-wide IT objectives, in alignment with the goals of our sister state agency, the DECD, and in partnership with Pfizer."
"Last year Pfizer had to make some difficult decisions to address excess capacity at its Groton campus," said DECD Commissioner Catherine Smith. "We are grateful that the company worked so closely with the State and many local stakeholders to look for innovative solutions. I am excited that today we can announce agreements that benefit the company, the region and the state as a whole."
In addition, the state itself will become a major user of Pfizer's excess space. The state has been looking for a data center for some time, and this facility will provide an ideal location above hurricane level surge and with all of the necessary safety measures, saving taxpayers millions of dollars each year in building and real estate costs.
"This is positive news, ensuring Groton will continue to play an active role in cutting edge bioscience initiatives," said State Senator Andrew Maynard (D-Stonington). "It shows the governor's ongoing commitment to strengthening our local economy."
"Southeastern Connecticut is fortunate to have the facilities and know-how to support this major initiative in bioscience development and a Governor who recognizes the extraordinary capabilities of our community to nurture and develop innovative technologies," said State Rep. Ted Moukawsher (D-Groton, Ledyard). "I believe today's announcement is the precursor to a future of discovery and economic development that will improve the quality of life not only for ourselves but for people everywhere."
"These projects will help retain the economic footprint of those facilities, attract and retain jobs in high-demand information-technology and bio-technology fields," said State Rep. Elissa Wright (D-Groton, New London). "In an age of globalization and rapid technological change, these significant state investments recognize the talents of a strong workforce and the contributions, needs, and importance of this region to the economic success of Connecticut."
It is expected that rental income from tenants, fees or sponsorships from use of the building's facilities, as well as partnerships from supporters will cover the building's operating costs and create a sustainable business model that will help to spur Connecticut bioscience entrepreneurship and economic development in the region. CURE Innovation Commons will open after initial renovations are complete, which is expected to occur by September 1, 2014 and it is anticipated that the facility will be fully operational by July 1, 2015.