New Headquarters for Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron Announced

Partnership between institute, county and city leaders further solidifies commitment to pioneering next generation of life-enhancing and life-saving innovation and transforming region’s economy

Caption: Dr. Frank Douglas, ABIA president and CEO

AKRON, Ohio – Leaders of the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron (ABIA), State of Ohio, County of Summit and City of Akron today announced plans for the institute’s future headquarters in  a soon-to-be renovated County-owned building, located at the corner of Main Street and Perkins Avenue and current home to the administrative offices of the County’s Department of Job and Family Services.

The institute will occupy the first three floors and the centerpiece of the nearly 40,000-square-foot space, scheduled to open in the summer of 2011, will be the Center for Simulation and Integrated Healthcare Education (CSIHE). The ABIA center will be a state-of-the-art healthcare training facility that will offer novel team-based, patient-centered simulation programs. Current and future healthcare professionals will explore advanced techniques and train on interactive and emerging technologies.

"The new facility represents a significant investment by ABIA, the State, the County and the City and reaffirms our founding partners’ commitment to making Akron a global center of biomedical innovation, discovery and entrepreneurship through high-profile, cutting-edge programs," said Dr. Frank Douglas, ABIA president and CEO. "We are creating more than just office space; we are building a 21st century hub allowing us to recruit great talent, and to provide an environment that will push discovery and commercialization forward."

The announcement coincided with Ohio Governor Strickland’s designation of Akron as an Ohio Hub of Innovation and Opportunity, focused on biomaterials for orthopedics and wound healing. The Akron Hub, which is focused on identifying, supporting and growing promising opportunities in the areas of orthopedics and wound healing that have the potential for creating profitable businesses and jobs, will be located in the new ABIA facility.

ABIA – a unique collaboration of Akron Children’s Hospital, Akron General Health System, Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy, Summa Health System, The University of Akron and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation – was launched to accelerate research toward biomedical commercialization as well as improve prevention, treatment and disease management. In addition to pioneering the next generation of life-enhancing and life-saving innovation, ABIA further aims to secure the region’s economic future through the creation of 2,400 jobs within the next decade.

According to Bill Considine, ABIA Board of Directors Chair, “This investment is the next step in creating a world-class center for collaboration in biomedical research, education, commercialization and community health in the heart of Akron’s Biomedical Corridor and will act as a hub for patient-centered innovation and commercialization.”

The estimated $10 million project is receiving significant support from the County of Summit and the Summit County Port Authority. The County will sell the building to the Port Authority, which will then issue economic development revenue bonds to fund a substantial portion of the renovation of the building. The bonds will be secured by a pledge of the County, thereby reducing the cost of financing the renovation.  ABIA will enter into a multi-year lease agreement with the Port Authority to repay those bonds. Additional public and private financing will be necessary for the balance of the project costs.  A portion of the building will continue to be used for county offices.

Governor Strickland announced the State’s commitment to provide a research and development loan in the amount of $2.5 million to the project, directly as a result of the location of the facility in the Hub of Innovation and Opportunity,

“This collaborative effort will establish the ABIA as the cornerstone for biomedical training, research and development in Northeast Ohio,” said Executive Russell M. Pry.  “The County is committed to working with its public and private partners to further develop biomedicine as a critical transitional industry for Summit County and Greater Akron.  Additionally, the State’s contribution to this project highlights Governor Strickland’s commitment to developing new jobs and industry in our community.”

“I’m pleased that ABIA has made a commitment to locate in the center of Akron’s Biomedical Corridor, and that Summit County is providing space that is large enough for the institute to grow,” said Akron Mayor Donald L. Plusquellic. “It has always been our intention that the research conducted here, will lead to the growth of companies that ultimately will manufacture the biomedical inventions coming out of the Institute. The City has acquired property nearby through land banking, to accommodate the expansion of companies   developed from this initiative.” 

“This innovative project is important for the improvement and advancement of health care in Northeast Ohio and will spur continued job growth in our community’s medical sector,” said Jon Poda, President of Summit County Council.

The new facility will be the catalyst for creating an additional 50 new jobs in the biomedical corridor within the next year. ABIA currently has more than 20 employees.

“We look forward to working closely with all our counterparts in Northeast Ohio,” said Dr. Michael Holder Jr., Vice President of ABIA's CSIHE. “I believe this enhanced training site will save lives by providing every member of the healthcare team with the opportunity to work together, enhance competency, develop new skills in numerous areas, and build confidence in one another."

"We are excited about ABIA's commitment to Akron's health and safety and the incremental training opportunities this facility will provide for emergency responders," said Akron Fire Deputy Chief Dale Evans.

The building, which also will include a large auditorium and public lecture areas, will allow for additional expansion as ABIA continues to grow. The Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy also will utilize a portion of the space as a center for community-based health initiatives and education programs.

The building also will include ABIA’s Center for Clinical and Community Health Improvement. Over time, ABIA’s Medical Device Development Center and a biomedical incubator will be located in expanded space. ABIA’s Center for Biomaterials and Medicine will be located at the soon-to-open National Polymer Innovation Center at The University of Akron, while the Medical Device Development Center currently is located at the Akron Global Accelerator.

 

About the Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron
The Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron (ABIA) – an exceptional collaboration of Akron Children’s Hospital, Akron General Health System, Northeastern Ohio Universities Colleges of Medicine and Pharmacy, Summa Health System, The University of Akron and The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation – is focused on patient-centered innovation and commercialization at the intersection of biomaterials and medicine. The strategic alignment of public and private support, accompanied with Akron’s rich legacy in materials science, is working to pioneer the next generation of life-enhancing and life-saving innovation that will transform Akron into a model for biomedical discovery and enterprise and move the region toward a secure economic future by accelerating the creation of 2,400 jobs during the next decade.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation advances journalism in the digital age and invests in the vitality of communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. Knight Foundation focuses on projects that promote informed and engaged communities and lead to transformational change. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org

Contacts:
County of Summit:  Jason Dodson,Chief of Staff, 330-643-2075, jdodson@summitoh.net
Port
Authority: Christopher Burnham, President, 330-762-4776, chrisscpa@neo.rr.com
ABIA
: Scott Rainone, ABIA Communications, 330-572-7581, srainone@abiakron.org
State
of Ohio: Leah Anglin-Walsh, Regional Economic Development Director, 330-643-3392,
langlin@odod.state.oh.us

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.