BIOSTART moves toward service-based model

Fifteen years after opening its doors, BIOSTART, Cincinnati's life sciences start-up center, is changing the way it does business. In order to remain competitive in a fast-changing business market, it is closing its lab space and moving from its location near the University of Cincinnati.

BIOSTART President Carol Frankenstein says the organization will focus exclusively on business services, making the hard shift as its closes its current facility at the Hoxworth Blood Center in September. She says the change was both a business and a strategic decision.

"Today, companies, even at the very early stages, are outsourcing their commercialization and development activity. That includes clinical and preclinical work, development and manufacturing," Frankenstein says. "That increase in outsourcing reduces the cost of getting a product to market. That makes lab space less necessary. Because of the economy, there is so much low-cost and even free space available; our companies have the ability to benefit from that."

BIOSTART serves life sciences entrepreneurs in health care service and product development. Since 1996, it's helped 125 companies launch their business and raise $180 million. Three-fourths of those businesses have had successful exits or are currently in business, the organization reports.

BIOSTART is working with local business advocates, including the Hamilton County Business Center, Uptown Consortium and CincinnatiUSA Regional Chamber to help its 18 tenant companies (which occupy about 65 percent of its space) to relocate.

Frankenstein said BIOSTART is looking for a new space downtown. She will remain with the organization as will three entrepreneurs in residence. The organization has received $500,000 in funding, half from the Ohio Department of Development and half from private sources, to aid in the transition.

"We're using the grant for the next 12 months to explore new service delivery models," she says.

BIOSTART's current business services include helping companies put together a management team and connecting with and applying for funding sources.

By Feoshia Henderson

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