UNR opens lab to industry and entrepreneurs

The UNR Bioscience Entrepreneurial Lab was showcased during a reception Thursday, May 19. UNR Vice President of Research and Innovation Mridul Gautam welcomes the crowd.

The UNR Bioscience Entrepreneurial Lab was showcased during a reception Thursday, May 19. UNR Vice President of Research and Innovation Mridul Gautam welcomes the crowd.

The University of Nevada, Reno is fostering entrepreneurship for startups and businesses in northern Nevada with their new bioscience lab.

The Biosciences Entrepreneurial Laboratory (BEL) is a wet lab incubator facility that is designed to promote the growth of bioscience entrepreneurship in northern Nevada. The lab gives startups and businesses access to state-of-the-art equipment and expertise from faculty and staff at UNR.

“BEL is an incubation lab designed to help startup companies and individuals who don’t have the infrastructure but have ideas,” Carlos Cardillo, Nevada Center for Applied Research (NCAR) director, said.

The lab is designed for entrepreneurs who want to move forward with the research and development of ideas ranging from new biofuel sources, new drugs, new autonomous systems, engineering solutions and more.

The 1,050-square-foot lab is located on the University’s campus in the Applied Research Facility and is a part of UNR’s Shared Research Facilities. BEL is managed by NCAR, which is funded by both a $3.1 million grant from the State of Nevada Knowledge Fund and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

UNR held an open house in mid-May for the northern Nevada community to see the new space and learn about the resources offered.

At the event, Cardillo encouraged both startups and well-established companies who want to go in a new direction to take advantage of the equipment and resources.

“The lab has been described as a research paradise,” Cardillo said. Businesses can come in and have a turnkey lab.

The lab gives entrepreneurs room to fail without the risk of significant financial investment. To build a biosciences lab like BEL would likely cost millions of dollars to buy all of the equipment necessary. Instead, entrepreneurs can use it for a fee.

The lab provides “a safe place to incubate and far cheaper than going out on their own,” Rebecca Albion, shared research facility coordinator at UNR, said.

Entrepreneurs will have access to graduate students and faculty members who can help aid in their research.

“Hopefully (businesses) will also hire students and make them a part of their purpose,” Cardillo said at the event.

The lab is state-of-the-art and it is rare for university labs to be open to industry.

“Entrepreneurial labs of this sort do not typically live in universities,” Ellen Purpus, UNR’s associate vice president for enterprise and innovation, explained during the event.

The lab is fully equipped with state-of-the-art equipment including chemical fume hoods, baking and drying oven, various microbiological incubators, freezers, coolers, ice machine, deionized water, ultrapure water, chemical storage, bench-top equipment and more. Additional equipment can be added to the lab based on the type of research entrepreneurs are conducting.

“It is always going to be changing depending on the type of work that they are doing,” Albion said.

Businesses and entrepreneurs who are interested in using the lab can contact NCAR. The staff at NCAR will work with them to help determine what resources and university expertise they will need to help them be successful and create a customized fee structure to use the lab. NCAR can also provide training for the equipment, waste management and Internet.

For more information and a full list of equipment available in the lab, visit www.unr.edu/ncar/bel.


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