Industry Outlook 2006 - Biotech
Scripps hasn't let site concerns keep it from proceeding with research.
ON TARGET: Scripps Florida has already hired more than 150 scientists and supporting staff as called for in the state-approved incentives package.
As the details of a new site deal are hammered out, Scripps is proceeding with a scientific effort that it has mustered largely out of the headlines -- building the backbone of a research effort in Florida that it expects to be a magnet for other research organizations, laboratories and spinoff companies.
Operating from temporary facilities at FAU, Scripps' 160 scientists, technicians and administrative staff are focusing on biomedical research, technology development and drug design. William E. Ray, Scripps vice president for external affairs, says the site issue has been "unremitting, but it is the scientists who make the case for Scripps -- not the site."
Ray says Scripps continues to meet the employment targets spelled out in the $369-million state financing package that helped induce Scripps, headquartered in La Jolla, Calif., to build a research facility in Florida. Meanwhile -- despite courting from other regions of Florida -- Scripps has cemented its commitment to Palm Beach County, where it's received $12 million in private donations. In November, Scripps Florida collaborated with Oxford University to host a major biotech conference in Palm Beach at which scientists from all over the world presented cutting-edge research on topics ranging from Alzheimer's disease to cancer. At the conference, Scripps also announced it was forming a biochemistry department that will encompass the California and Florida campuses; research will span questions in neurobiology, metabolic control, immunology and cancer biology.
Until that biotech village is under way, say industry observers inside and outside the state, Florida won't realize the full promise of Scripps. "Scripps, its scientists and the quality of its research are a given. The question is what it will bring to Florida," says Gregory A. Nelson, head of Akerman Senterfitt's intellectual property division in West Palm Beach and a board member of BioFlorida, the state's biotechnology organization. "Scripps is a catalyst, and to the extent that the catalyst isn't there, it prolongs the formation of a biotech cluster in Florida."