Astellas invests $13m in cell and gene therapy innovation incubators

Japanese Astellas’ nearly $13m will make it a Founding Sponsor of LabCentral's new incubator with a core lab space for process development studies and a non-GMP pilot plant

An established LabCentral facility

Astellas Pharma has announced it will invest nearly US$13 million into two innovation incubators operated by LabCentral, a US-based laboratory facility for next-gen biotech startups.

Astellas will invest $12.5m to become the only pharmaceutical/biotechnology company among five Founding Sponsors of a new incubator, which will feature a core lab space where companies can easily conduct process development studies and a non-GMP pilot plant, being developed by LabCentral at 238 Main Street in Cambridge, MA.

This initiative, combined with the more than $1bn Astellas has previously committed to driving innovation in Massachusetts, contributes to the Boston-area life science community's ongoing efforts to accelerate the discovery and development of potential breakthrough therapies in areas of significant unmet need.

"Astellas has a long-standing commitment to the Boston-area life sciences ecosystem, where world-class talent are dedicated to turning innovative science into value for patients," said Kenji Yasukawa, President and CEO of Astellas. "Our presence in the greater Boston area comprises over 200 professionals across several locations driving innovation in regenerative medicine, immuno-oncology, mitochondrial function, genetic regulation and beyond. Accelerating early-stage scientific innovation in areas such as cell and gene therapy is a strategic focus for Astellas, and is superbly aligned with the mission of LabCentral to serve as a launching-pad for cutting-edge biotech and life sciences start-ups."

The investment, announced today in a ceremony with the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center and elected officials including Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, provides support to start-up companies and entrepreneurial founders seeking to create scientific innovation in areas of unmet need such as cell and gene therapy. The new incubator is expected to be operational in 2021.

Astellas also announced it will invest at least $450,000 over three years to become a Gold Sponsor of LabCentral's existing incubator located at 700 Main Street in Cambridge.

By supporting these incubators, Astellas can select, support and access innovation from leading start-ups creating healthcare solutions in its areas of focus.

Since 2010, Astellas has invested more than $800 million in, and committed nearly $500 million more to, Massachusetts-based innovation through the acquisitions of Ocata Therapeutics, Inc., Mitobridge, Inc. and Potenza Therapeutics, Inc., as well as the construction of a state-of-the-art headquarters for the Astellas Institute for Regenerative Medicine (AIRM) in Westborough, MA. The new facility, expected to open in 2020, will enable AIRM to accelerate research and development in the field of regenerative medicine and cell therapy.

Astellas sais that the impact of this agreement on its financial results in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020 will be limited.

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