06 Nov New Orleans’ prospective bioscience sector gets $500K boost from JPMorgan Chase


Identified by economic development and workforce leaders as a key prospect for growth, the nascent biosciences sector of New Orleans is getting a boost of $500,000 from JPMorgan Chase & Co. The goal is to build a concentration of health and biomedical small businesses in the New Orleans inner-city to spur job and economic growth.

The bank said Thursday (Nov. 6) that four New Orleans groups will be awarded grants as part of a small-business growth initiative nationwide, doling out $30 million over five years. The mission is to develop concentrations — or clusters — of industries, linking small businesses that share a supply chain, workforce and ideas.

“It offers a really efficient and effective organizing framework for economic growth,” said Kim Zeuli, senior vice president and research director of Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, during a presentation in New Orleans at the New Orleans BioInnovation Center.


The BioInnovation Center, a nonprofit incubator for life sciences startups, will get $200,000. The funding will go toward strengthening the center’s current programs at its Canal Street building and studying the feasibility of creating new lab space in New Orleans for mid-stage biotech startups, said Aaron Miscenich, the center’s president.

The gestation for a biotech startup is three to five years typically, because of the lengthy regulatory approval process, he said. As new ventures grow and graduate from the BioInnovation Center, he said, the city must have other lab space available or risk losing the newly established companies to other cities.

The New Orleans Business Alliance, the city’s economic development arm, will get a $150,000 grant. The alliance has identified health and bioinnovation as one of five sectors for the city’s future prosperity (along with advanced manufacturing, digital media, sustainable industries and transportation and trade).

It recently launched a three-month study exploring how to link small and minority-owned businesses to New Orleans hospital systems, which are among the city’s largest buyers of goods and services. The group has taken taken control of efforts to build the city’s biomedical industry after the state-chartered New Orleans BioDistrict agency failed to secure steady funding.

“The fact that Chase is approaching its investments holistically and endorsing this cluster strategy is really significant,” said Business Alliance interim president and CEO Melissa Ehlinger. Ehlinger said all four of the organizations receiving money from Chase are working together.

Good Work Network, which supports minority-owned and women-owned businesses in the New Orleans area, will receive $100,000 for work connecting small businesses and opportunities in the bio cluster.
Meanwhile, The Idea Village, an entrepreneur support network, will be getting $50,000 toward its annual startup round of programs and events.

The announcement comes as the Veterans Affairs and University Medical Center hospitals are being built in Mid-City, which local economic developers hope will serve as a catalyst for other bio companies.
The $1.1 billion University Medical Center is slated to open next year; the $995 million Veterans Affairs hospital is expected to open in 2016.

At a news conference Thursday, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said JP Morgan Chase has played a prominent role in the rebuilding of New Orleans, including $200 million in financing for housing and new market tax credits. “As we rethink who we are as a city, and change our strategy from just trying to recruit businesses to come in — which we keep doing — we also now are focused on growth,” Landrieu said. “Growth comes from creation, creation comes entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship comes form the freedom to actually experiment, and if need be to fail, and to get back up and try again.”

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