On Tuesday, Southern Research marked the official opening of its Station 41 biotech incubator, which is one of four programs that make up the newly launched Station 41 biotech commercialization hub. The incubator provides wet lab space and office space, shared lab equipment and services to support biotech startup growth.
The incubator is located in a newly renovated space on Southern Research’s campus on Birmingham’s Southside.
“In the past, Birmingham has lost companies and jobs to other markets because we did not have available commercial wet lab space,” said Josh Carpenter, Ph.D.,CEO of Southern Research. “With this incubator, we are beginning to meet this need. Under the same roof, we are also providing early-stage biotech and pharma companies with unique access to our renowned drug discovery and development capabilities here at Southern Research.”
In addition to their own office and lab space, companies in the incubator have preferred access to Southern Research screening facilities, and they are able to connect with staff experts who can help them move their product forward.
The incubator space is a part of Southern Research’s Station 41 biotech commercialization hub, which also includes the Accelerator, the Venture Studio and the Therapeutics Development Fund, which all exist to help biotech startups with funding, expertise and resources.
“Opening Station 41 marks another great stride in making Birmingham the premier biotech commercialization hub of the Southeast,” said UAB President Ray L. Watts. “Here we will nurture local innovation and entrepreneurs, and attract new businesses and talent to our region, helping make Birmingham and Alabama all the more competitive in the 21st century global economy.”
The Station 41 programs are a cornerstone of efforts to expand biotech in Birmingham, which got a big boost last year with Birmingham’s designation as a Regional Tech Hub.
“Just three months ago, we announced the designation of Birmingham as a federal Tech Hub by the Biden-Harris Administration,” U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell said. “Today, I am beyond thrilled to join Southern Research and UAB as we celebrate the official opening of the Station 41 biotech incubator. The launch of this project is a major step forward in our shared mission of cementing Birmingham as a center for innovation. I have no doubt that it will attract leading biotech companies, new jobs, and cutting-edge research to the Magic City. I extend my thanks to Southern Research, UAB, and the many partners who made this project possible.”
The incubator has space for 12 companies, and it is targeting companies involved in treating and diagnosing diseases—especially those aligned with Southern Research’s core focus areas, which include cancer, infectious diseases and chronic diseases.
Four companies have already moved in to the space, and the incubator leaders expect to fill it within the year.
“Our company is working to revolutionize the way the medical community treats and prevents chronic and infectious lung diseases,” said Gaurav Mehta, CEO of Alveolus Bio, one of the businesses located in the incubator. “Our partnership with Southern Research’s Station 41 incubator lines us up for success. We are thankful and excited to be part of Birmingham’s growing and promising life science ecosystem.”
Another member, Adjuvax, is a startup focused on the early-stage development of a new generation of vaccines made possible by the novel vaccine compounds discovered at UAB in chemistry professor Pengfei Wang’s lab.
“The Station 41 incubator is an ideal place for Adjuvax because of its well-designed lab space, shared equipment, and valuable onsite services, which are crucial for startups,” Wang said. “The convenient location of the Station 41 incubator on the Southern Research campus will also help Adjuvax establish more collaborations with Southern Research in vaccine development.”
The contractor on the project was Brasfield & Gorrie.
“Our team is passionate about building projects that serve the communities where we live and work, and Southern Research takes that a step further,” said Brasfield & Gorrie Regional Vice President and Division Manager Robby Hayes. “Southern Research’s efforts affect the world as they develop world-class solutions that address modern-day health threats. By providing space to biotech entrepreneurs, Southern Research is creating opportunity for others as well as further developing that biotech ecosystem in our city and state. We’re thrilled that we were able to construct this essential lab space.”