Lab21 to Upfit Next Innovation Center

July 16, 2010

Lab21 Inc. has signed a lease and obtained financing to locate a high-tech, advanced diagnostics lab at the Next Innovation Center in downtown Greenville.

The lab will focus on oncology and infectious disease and will work with hospitals throughout the state and region, said Lab21 President Michael Bolick.

"We'll be able to tell doctors what type of cancer the patient has and which drugs will work with certain people," he said.

The lab should be running by the end of the year. Lab21 plans to employ 65 or more in five years, said Bolick (pictured, below). Lab21 also operates a product development lab in Pendleton.

United Kingdom-based Lab21 Ltd. acquired Bolick's Selah Technologies in December and announced it would locate its U.S. headquarters here under the name Lab21 Inc. The company has been scouting locations for its diagnostics lab ever since.

The 8,000-square-foot lab represents a significant step in the evolution of the Next center. Lab21 will be the first biotech company there and the first company to operate a lab.

"This puts us back ahead of schedule," said developer Bob Hughes. "It's a great development for the building and for Greenville. This is a cool example of why we built the Next Innovation Center."

The $10 million Next Innovation Center, at the intersection of Church Street and University Ridge, houses a variety of start-up entrepreneurial organizations and technology companies, Michelin Development Upstate, Next offices, and the Upstate Angel Investor Network. The 60,000-square-foot center was created by the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, the city of Greenville, Hughes Development Corp. and Next LLC.

It's designed as place for entrepreneurs to collaborate and share ideas. Already, employees of three different companies within the Next building have joined together and will launch their own company in August. The new company, IntroMojo, has developed a web application to help sales professionals connect.

Lab21, meanwhile, helps Next building organizers fulfill a goal for the building to become home to a diverse mix of companies.

"We didn't want it to be just a bunch of computer guys," said Peter Waldschmidt, CEO of Gnoso – a Next tenant – and a co-chair of the Next Innovation Center Initiative. "Sometimes some of the best collaboration comes from companies of different industries.

"The building has just filled out with more companies, more ideas," Waldschmidt added.

Hughes agreed, saying "out of diversity you get all these different ideas."

About 15,000 square feet of space remains available at the building, he said, and inquiries are pouring in, some from as far away as Europe and Asia.

"I would love to add another advanced materials or lab company," he said.

Bolick said Lab21 considered other sites for the lab.

"At the end of the day, this was the right place for us to be," he said. "When you look at the companies that are in here, they're innovative. They're fast moving. They're in growth mode. That's the kind of company we are."