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Startups are growing potential in University of California, Riverside’s Life Science Incubator

Three biotech startups now utilize the Life Sciences Incubator at The University of California, Riverside, or UCR, and more are in the process of moving into what is the only lab of its kind in the Inland Empire.

Housed within the Multidisciplinary Research Building on campus at UCR, the incubator is a 3,000-square-foot facility that opened its doors in 2019. It was designed to accommodate 20 companies looking to advance their discoveries and inventions in the life sciences, agriculture, biotechnology, and medical technology fields. Karamedica and Murrieta Genomics Inc. were the first to take advantage of the space and NeyroblastGX is the third.

David Pearson, Ph.D., Life Sciences Incubator director and managing director of Entrepreneurial Programs at UCR, said the COVID-19 pandemic presented challenges for how they would maximize the available space. Until indoor restrictions are lifted, they are still able to onboard a limited number of companies.

“The incubator creates a connection between the university and the community because what drives us is contributing to the health and welfare of our region,” Pearson said. “We do that in two ways, supporting companies from our region and developing sciences and technology from the university to get it out into the community.”

In May 2019, the university received a $2.5 million grant from the Economic Development Administration, or EDA, to purchase the equipment used in the lab.

Tenants benefit not only from the laboratory space and specialized technology. They also receive clearance to other UCR equipment across the campus, access to grant funding and opportunities to collaborate with UCR faculty and researchers.

Pearson said the incubator is expected to foster job creation and career development in Riverside and these were motivating factors for establishing the only incubator laboratory in the region outside of Los Angeles and Orange Counties.

He continued that as the UCR Office of Technology Partnerships manages the incubator and helps startups achieve their research objectives, they will help launch those companies into their next space as they outgrow the lab and need more advanced technology.