September 18, 2014

Biotech

A Call for Discovery

Gov. Jeb Bush encourages Scripps to keep moving right along.

Mike Vogel | 11/1/2005

Gov. Jeb Bush came with scripted laugh lines, feigning ignorance of science, for the luncheon crowd at the Scripps Florida groundbreaking in September. He also had an unplanned one when he said, "This didn't happen overnight."

ADVANCING SCIENCE: At the groundbreaking for Scripps' Mecca Farms site -- eight months behind schedule because of protests over the location -- Gov. Bush said he wants to hear less about opposition and more about progress.The ensuing laughs stemmed from the knowledge that groundbreaking was eight months behind schedule because of opposition from environmentalists over the location of the government-backed, 1,900-acre biomedical research campus in Palm Beach County. The state and county have committed $447 million to building California-based Scripps a 100-acre campus in that park, envisioned as a premier life sciences industry center to rival Disney World in its impact on Florida. The first three-building phase encompasses 350,000 square feet to house 545 staff.

Bush said he wanted to hear less about lawsuits and sprawl and more about discovery. But that may be wishful thinking.

Just a week after the groundbreaking ceremony, U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks ruled that the Army Corps of Engineers wrongly issued a permit for work at the Mecca Farms site. The potential exists that the county could be forced to abandon or significantly modify construction before the 2007 completion.

Scripps AidPalm Beach County commissioners have voted in favor of a resolution endorsing taxpayer-supported embryonic stem cell research in Florida. The resolution is designed to complement the efforts of the Scripps Research Institute, centerpiece of the county's plans for a massive biotechnology park. In another boost for Scripps, Jupiter investor Lawrence J. DeGeorge and his wife, Florence, donated $5 million to Scripps Florida -- on the condition it be built on schedule at its announced site.Meanwhile, Scripps research is moving forward. Temporary facilities at FAU in Jupiter house 129 scientists. Top scientists have been recruited, a research partnership with a private company has been formed, heavy duty research equipment is in place, high school teachers and students have had internships, patent applications have been filed and collaborations with the state's universities are forming.

"I'm contacted by venture capital groups constantly," says Scripps senior business development director Deborah Mosca. "Already we're being inundated."

Bush remains intent on moving the venture along, speaking of the opportunity he expects Scripps to create for the state's children as "the thing I will most remember as governor of this state.

Tags: Southeast

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