BGI Health Americas, a U.S. subsidiary of BGI, one of the world’s leading research and genomics institutions, has opened an office at the University City Science Center’s Port business incubator.
Founded in Beijing in 1999 as Beijing Genomics Institute, BGI uses advanced technology platforms to study genetic structure, gene function and the contribution of genetics to health and disease. BGI has been a significant contributor to a number of international collaborations, including the Human Genome Project, the HapMap project for human genetic diversity, sequencing projects for species important to conservation and agriculture and projects for globally-significant diseases such as SARS.
BGI Health Americas was incorporated as the official interface for BGI Health in North, Central, and South Americas. In partnership with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, BGI Health Americas will offer next generation sequencing in a CAP/CLIA certified facility to address problems in clinical diagnostics and personalized healthcare via its joint genome sequencing facility: BGI@CHOP. The goal of BGI Health Americas is to be the premier clinical sequencing solution provider.
Four other new startups joining BGI at the Port are educational online tool developer Choosito!; biotech companies AUM LifeTech and CytoVas; and a Belgian clinical trial company, S-Clinica. BGI and S-Clinica are participants in the Port’s Global Soft Landing program, which supports international companies establishing a foothold in U.S. markets.
“This diverse group of companies reflects the compostion of the Port incubator,” said Science Center Vice President Science & Technology Christopher J. Laing, MRCVS, Ph.D., who oversees the Port. “In addition to office and lab space, these startups will have access to expertise, programming and a strong network of service providers and resources.”
These five companies bring the number of residents at the Port, including businesses in life sciences and healthcare, IT and emerging technologies and support organizations, to 38, deploying more than $27 million in risk capital, and employing 93 people.
AUM LifeTech is developing novel tools for genetic manipulation using gene-silencing technology. Initially targeted for academic researchers seeking to understand biology and disease, these tools will eventually have applications in treating genetic disorders by development of Nucleic Acid based Therapeutics.
CytoVas, a diagnostic discovery company from the University of Pennsylvania’s UPStart program, uses computer algorithms to mine population data sets for new markers of disease and treatment. CytoVas is the first recipient of funding from the American Heart Association’s Science and Technology Accelerator program and is partnered with Becton Dickinson to develop a novel test to detect changes in blood vessel health, which, in addition to diagnosing disease and managing treatment, this test could help in the development of new therapies.
For more than 15 years, S-Clinica has been providing technology-based services for pharmaceutical, biotechnology and contract research companies conducting clinical trials. Leveraging proprietary technology and know-how, they have supported more than 600 clinical trials in more than 80 countries, including one that involved more than 17,000 people. These clinical trials are required for the approval of new drugs treating a variety of diseases.
Choosito! is a search tool that curates the web to find information optimized and highly relevant to learning. Choosito! analyzes human language to identify resources that match the students’ reading level for any school subject. Choosito! has recently received an innovation grant from NSF. Pilots are currently in progress in the US and Europe.
About the Science Center
The University City Science Center is a dynamic hub for innovation, entrepreneurship and technology development in the Greater Philadelphia region. Its Port facility provides business incubation, programming, lab and office facilities and support services for entrepreneurs, startups, growing and established companies. The Science Center was the first, and remains the largest, urban research park in the United States. Since it was founded in 1963, graduate organizations and current residents of the Port business incubator have created more than 15,000 jobs that remain in the Greater Philadelphia region today and contribute more than $9 billion to the regional economy annually. The Science Center is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2013.
For more information, visit sciencecenter.org.