The University of Miami and the Cambridge Innovation Center in Miami (CIC Miami) have
partnered to establish South Florida's first shared wet lab space for early stage biomedical startups. Years in the making, it is the final piece of the puzzle to attracting and fostering biomedical discoveries in the South Florida region.
Inspired by the formation of as many as ten UM startups each year, many of them in the
biomedical field, Norma Kenyon, Ph.D., vice provost for innovation for the University of Miami, began exploring the possibility of establishing the space more than three years ago. Early stage biomedical startups have limited funds and are often applying for Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer grants. “Even if a phase I grant is awarded, the need to rent and equip space is a major hurdle. Co-working space is readily available for tech based companies - why not have co-working space for our biomedical startups,” asked Kenyon, who is also chief innovation officer of the Miller School of Medicine.
With that goal in mind, Kenyon began conversations with VWR, a life sciences supply company, convincing them of the importance of the project. VWR was sold and agreed to place critical equipment and instrumentation in a new, shared space. From there, all Kenyon needed was the space.
The arrival of CIC as a partner presented such an opportunity. Founded in 1999, CIC has been lauded as the densest aggregation of startup activity in the U.S. by The Brookings Institution. CIC opened its doors in Miami in October 2016 with the intent of building a collaborative, inclusive, and engaging center of gravity in a city that has the second largest health district in the United States. CIC’s CEO Tim Rowe also co-founded one of the premier life sciences accelerators in the country – Lab Central – as well as launched successful laboratory offerings, including a thriving shared laboratory project, in St. Louis.
"Given our track record articulating the juncture of life sciences and other innovation sectors, we came to Miami looking to replicate this vision here as well,” said Rowe. “The reality that we shared this priority with UM allowed us to adapt what we have done in other cities to Miami less than a year after opening our doors and truly hit the ground running.”