The doors opened this week on the new Northern Virginia BioScience Center.
The $17.5 million base at Innovation Park Prince William provides new wet lab space for fledgling life-science companies. The area is designed to be the next step up for companies graduating from the Prince William County Science Accelerator at George Mason University’s Science and Technology Campus outside Manassas, serving as an incubator for scientists at start-up life-science companies.
New commercial products will be developed and tested inside the new facility.
“This project was for who we like to call our American heroes. People forget about the people who take risks and experiment with products that we use every day,” said commercial Real Estate developer Austin Haynes of Holladay Properties, who began pushing for the center’s creation in 2016.
One scientist who spoke during a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, March 30, called the center a “breath of fresh air.” “We know the safety standards are up to par, and me and my coworkers are safe,” she said.
The center has biosafety level-two laboratories, allowing research for pharmaceuticals, immunotherapy, and cancer research. Four companies — ISOThrive, iQ Genetix, SYSTAQQ Diagnostics, and Virongy Biosciences — are now operating in the facility.
Prince William County taxpayers signed an initial lease for the project, renting 8,000 square feet of the facility. The move allowed Holiday Properties to secure bank financing for the project.
The taxpayer investment will divest as new companies lease space in the new center. According to Haynes, returns on investment for research centers is about 2 percent, making them not as lucrative as other Real Estate ventures and ripe for public-private government investment.
It took 16 months to construct the new bioscience center. No stranger to large projects, Haynes’ Holladay Properties built a Tru By Hilton hotel near the Manassas Regional Airport and a Bass Pro Shops off Interstate 95, just north of Richmond.
“Innovation is now on the map, and we can now compete with Bethesda [Maryland], where we were losing business,” said Prince William County Supervisor Jeanine Lawson, whose office sits nearby the new lab.
Haynes named a conference room inside the bioscience center for Tom Flynn of the Prince William County Economic Development Department. Flynn has worked in Prince William County since 2013 and in economic development for 25 years.
The lab sits at 11225 Asset Loop on four acres. More than 650 feet of the property will remain untouched wetlands, said Haynes.