The $50 million Innovation and Research Park on the campus of Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science (RFU) secured its first occupant this month when Inspirotec, Inc. executed a five-year license agreement.
Inspirotec specializes in airborne pathogen detection — using an air-sampling device for capturing and measuring various bacteria and viruses, including COVID-19 — and has been operating since April 2019 in RFU’s Helix 51 incubator, where it occupies approximately 1,800 square feet of space. The Innovation and Research Park (IRP) deal calls for Inspirotec to license 6,773 square feet on the fourth floor of the 100,000-square-foot facility, including a 12-month option for an additional 2,800 square feet on the same floor and a renewal option for an additional five years. RFU anticipates completing build-out of the Inspirotec facility in spring 2021.
“Securing our first tenant is an important step in the expansion of our research collaborations between industry and academia,” said Dr. Wendy Rheault, RFU president and CEO. “The IRP is intended to be a fertile environment for collaboration and creativity among academic and industry partners.”
Of the 100,000 square feet in the IRP, two-thirds are allocated to RFU research labs, while the remaining third is available to healthcare industries and startups. Available space is built to specification to better suit a wide range of healthcare-oriented partners and design a space that meets their needs.
“We designed each of the four floors of the new building to contain both academic and industry laboratories, as well as shared ‘collision space’ to facilitate future conversation and collaboration between researchers and industry,” said Dr. Ronald Kaplan, RFU executive vice president for research. “The placement of RFU discovery science in close proximity to cutting-edge pharmaceutical and medical-device science will provide ideal conditions to hasten the translation of our medical discoveries into therapeutics and diagnostics to improve people’s lives.”
Inspirotec was founded by former Abbott Labs senior scientist Julian Gordon, PhD, who worked at King’s College in London in the same lab where RFU’s namesake, Dr. Rosalind Franklin, conducted her groundbreaking research on DNA in the early 1950s.
Tom Brya, the president and CEO of Inspirotec, said the company and its AirAnswers-platform patented technologies, commercial products, ISO/BSL-2 automated laboratories and operations “all work well within our new RFU expanded research and state-of-the-art testing capabilities.”
Inspirotec is the only company providing airborne allergen detection direct to the consumer or through environmental health and cleaning technology companies; physicians; industrial hygienists; indoor air quality professionals; and home resale. It has developed a highly sensitive, patented technology for testing and measuring biological agents in the air, including bacteria and viruses, and specifically SARS-CoV-2. The device, AirAnswers, was relaunched in July 2020.
The company has previously shown feasibility for the detection of airborne viruses in collaboration with U.S. Army Edgewood Chemical Biological Center (ECBC), which is the United States’ principal research and developmental resource for non-medical chemical and biological defense.
RFU’s Innovation and Research Park, slated for a ceremonial grand opening this winter, was designed to accelerate the university’s nationally recognized research into treatment and prevention of disease, and to support collaboration among academic and industry scientists, innovators and entrepreneurs. The facility, including its Helix 51 incubator, is strategically located halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee, and provides state-of-the-art laboratories and spaces for faculty and commercial startups, along with small- to mid-size national and international biotech firms.