New Labs Open Across the Globe

In the first of IBO’s twice yearly look at new labs, IBO covers new laboratory construction in China and Singapore, along with new laboratories in the nanotechnology sector, particularly on US college campuses. IBO’s report ends with a look at oil money’s advancement of new laboratory construction in the Middle East.

Foreign multinational investment in Asia, and China in particular, continues to intensify, with the construction of new labs in the chemicals and clinical trials industries. Rhodia currently has 13 operations in China, and on April 23, the company began construction on its first Chinese R&D center in the Xinzhuang Industrial Zone. Eighty percent of the €6.5 million ($10.1 million) center’s work will support the company’s operations in China. The center will employ 150 scientists by the end of the year and will house 32,292 square feet of laboratory space. Specialized polymer manufacturer PolyOne is maintaining its steady growth in China. In February, it announced the opening of its Tianjin site, which will join the company’s two other color development laboratories in Shanghai and Shenzhen. The lab will allow for the faster introduction of new products in China and Korea. According to Reuters, the company’s chief executive has stated that Polyone expects plastic demand to grow 10% in China. In March, adhesives and specialty chemicals manufacturer H.B. Fuller announced its plan to build a regional laboratory in Shanghai. The lab will be used primarily for reactive chemistry, product innovation and to improve the company’s local presence. The site of the lab has yet to be determined, but construction is set to begin by the end of the year.

The number of clinical research organizations (CROs) both starting up and expanding in China necessitates new laboratories in the country. The construction of China-based WuXi Pharmatech’s 267,000 square foot drug-safety evaluation center near Shanghai began in September 2007. The lab is set to open in 2009. The lab, which will be accreditated for laboratory animal testing, will specialize in various toxicology services and contain a Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) center. In 2006, the company’s services were used by 70 pharmaceutical and biotech customers. As part of a joint venture, CROs MPI and Medicilion have opened a GLP center in China. The 50,000 square foot preclinical testing center is located in Shanghai. The facility will offer both GLP and nonGLP services, meet FDA standards and be accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care. Quintiles Transnational began the consolidation of its Global Central Laboratories and Clinical Development Services to its Beijing headquarters in January, requiring an expansion of its Beijing lab. The 2,600 square-foot lab expansion will allow the company to add specialized chemistry, PCR testing and complex flow cytometry. The lab is certified by the College of American Pathologists and the National Glycohemoglobin Standardization Program.

Singapore remains a popular new site for laboratory construction. Independent testing firm Intertek opened a 8,000 square foot petroleum laboratory on Jurong Island in December 2007. The facility is located inside Universal Terminal, the largest commercial oil storage facility in Asia. The lab will be primarily used for fuel inspection services, but will also provide additional services such as fuel tank calibration. In February, the printer company Oce opened its first technology center in Singapore. The company states that the center’s opening will help the Netherlands-based company reach its goal of having 80% of its production volume come from Asia and Central Europe. Currently employing over 120 people in Singapore, the company states that, among other thing, the center will focus on R&D and product introductions.

As nanotechnology’s potential moves forward, many US colleges are striving to ramp up their capabilities in the field. The University of Massachusetts Lowell plans to open a 97,000 square foot Emerging Technologies and Innovation Center by 2010. The $80 million center will house nano- and bio-manufacturing research centers, as well as a green facility to focus on environmental research. Notre Dame University will be home to the $61 million Midwest Academy for Nanoelectronics and Architectures (MANA), which will be funded by the State of Indiana and a host of companies and organizations, including AMD, IBM, the Semiconductor Research Corporation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. AMD has also stated that it plans to place a $3.8 billion integrated circuit manufacturing center near the MANA. On the West Coast, the University of Oregon has opened one of two buildings that will make up its $76 million Integrative Science Complex. The second building will be completed in 2010. The entire complex is slated to be 30,000 square feet, and the value of the instruments housed in the buildings is expected to exceed $150 million. Outside the US, Trinity College Dublin opened its $74 million Center for Research on Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices (CRANN) in January. Currently employing 150 researchers and technicians, the CRANN focuses on microelectronics, drug delivery systems and medical imaging techniques.

Record oil profits may account for the recent proliferation in Middle Eastern laboratory construction. The end of April marked the completion of Shell’s new R&D center in Qatar. With a planned staff of 28 engineers, the center will focus on gas-to-liquids (GTL) catalysts, GTL process improvements and the study of GTL process byproducts. Shell has pledged to invest $100 million over the next 10 years in the facility. In Dubai, the Dubiotech research park stated in January that it will build a 354,714 square foot, $79 million Nucleotide Complex for life science labs. The four-story complex is slated to join the 28-member park in September. Biotech firms operating within the park are fully exempt from taxation for 50 years, maintain complete ownership of their businesses and can convert all of their capital into their home currency. The preclinical vivarium within the building will be over 10,000 square feet, and all of the complex’s laboratories will adhere to GLP and ISO 17025 standards.

In April, the medical diagnostics firm Al Borg Laboratory opened in Doha, Qatar, what it states is the largest private laboratory in the Middle East. The lab will focus on genetic and cytogenetic disorders, and molecular biology, including PCR. Al Borg currently has 82 branches in the Middle East and plans to open three more in Qatar. Jordan will be the home of Philadelphia’s Biological and Medical Product Development Center, which will provide services such as preclinical evaluation, core lab facilities, full-service clinical research and cell engineering and culturing. The center, whose construction was announced in April, will meet both FDA and EU requirements for preclinical testing. In April, Pakistan announced that 5,445 square feet has been set aside for the Environmental Protection Department’s analytical laboratory in Faisalabad.

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