St. Louis Business Journal
March 16, 2012
by Amir Kurtovic
Construction at the $7.5 million Helix Center in Creve Coeur is slated for completion by the end of May, and the life science incubator for early-stage firms should be open by early summer, said Beth Noonan, vice president of bioscience and technology with the St. Louis County Economic Council's Business Development Division.
The 17,000-square-foot incubator at 1100 Corporate Square will offer affordable lab and office space and is being funded through a $2.5 million federal grant and a $5.1 million grant from St. Louis County.
"Our real goal is to help to facilitate the growth of innovative life science companies and a generation of employment opportunities for our community," Noonan said. "We really see it as a long-term commitment to growing this industry in our community and supporting the entrepreneurs who want to do this."
Noonan said one of the strategic strengths of the Helix Center is its location next to the Bio-Research & Development Growth (BRDG) Park at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center.
The Helix Center will have 16 labs spaces and 23 offices and will be stocked with basic equipment such as refrigerators, sinks and freezers, Noonan said.
The center does not have any confirmed tenants yet, Noonan said, but she is in contact with plenty of interested entrepreneurs.
"We're hoping to have at least 25 different firms in the facility eventually," she said. "But it's hard to project the exact number. It depends on the nature and size of companies and how much space they need."
Prices for office and lab leases have not yet been set, Noonan said.
The Helix Center would join the Center for Emerging Technologies (CET) in Midtown as the second life science incubator in the region. The CET is managed by CORTEX, a local nonprofit organization that oversees the Midtown biotech research district. The 92,000-square-foot Center for Emerging Technologies charges its tenants $18 a square foot for office space and $40 a square foot for lab space.
The key difference between the two incubators is the Helix Center's location. With the later-stage companies already in BRDG Park and the research being done at the Danforth Center, the Helix Center will introduce new entrepreneurs into the continuum of services there, Noonan said.
Donn Rubin <http://www.bizjournals.com/stlouis/search/results?q=Donn%20Rubin> , president and CEO of BioSTL, a group established last year to expand St. Louis' life science industry, said the new incubator is one more tool to help St. Louis sell itself as the place to be for young life sciences companies.
"Because of its proximity to major life science institutions, it will provide entrepreneurs access to the intellectual capital at the Danforth Center and also the physical facilities, such as advances labs and green houses, that are hard to duplicate," Rubin said.
United Construction is the general contractor for the $7.5 million Helix Center project. Christner Inc. is the architect.