Cheaper, faster, easier health solutions
Cheaper, faster, easier health solutions
San Jose BioCenter provides startups with the infrastructure they need, such as a research lab, an operations team, "wet labs" for drug and chemical research, and more.
Incubator: San Jose BioCenter
Location: San Jose, Calif.

"At the San Jose BioCenter, we think about solving problems that others have tried to tackle," said Melinda Richter, executive director of the San Jose BioCenter. "But we try to do it cheaper, faster and more easily."

That credo is probably what earned the San Jose BioCenter the Incubator of the Year award in 2009 from the National Business Incubation Association.

On average, it takes eight to 12 years and billions of dollars to get a drug product to market, said Richter. But by incubating with the BioCenter, Richter said startups slash product development time, and costs, in half "if not more."

Once a startup is in the program, the incubator provides them with the infrastructure they need: a research lab, an operations team, "wet labs" for drug and chemical research, and moveable office space modules that connect to give more office space as a company grows.

"This way if you're a small company, you can rent a smaller 500-square-foot model and keep adding to that as needed," said Richter. "The only thing companies have to focus on once they are in our program is on developing their product," she said.

Last month, the BioCenter opened a new concept lab, which gives startups on a very tight budget access to a research and testing facility. For $500 a month, entrepreneurs can go to the BioCenter just to research and test their products in the new lab. But they won't get access to the other amenities and services that come with full membership.

"Right now a lot of startup financing is for late-stage companies," said Richter.

Because the incubator's program is highly sought after, the BioCenter is usually 100% occupied. Vacancies, when they occur, typically get filled up very quickly, Richter said. Since it opened in 2004, the BioCenter has created more than 800 jobs and raised over $1.4 billion in funding.

Among its recent success stories is biotech company Oxford BioTherapeutics, whose first deal was with pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline for $375 million.

Last updated October 06 2011: 10:55 AM ET
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