WILMINGTON—UNC Wilmington continues to make major investments in marine biotechnology by building a new $30 million research facility.
The new 69,000 square foot building, which is being built next to UNCW's Center for Marine Science, will house the Marine Biotechnology in North Carolina Program, commonly referred to as Marbionc.
Marbionc transforms underwater discoveries into marketable products.
"We have UNCW faculty members who are making discoveries and moving those forward. We have corporations that will be there that will be ready to accept the products and processes and help translate them into commercial products," said Dr. Dan Baden, the director of the UNCW Center for Marine Science and executive principal for Marbionc.
There are 17 labs that can be leased in the building. The smallest ones are a little more than 800 square feet but can double in size by lifting up a door.
"All those students from the undergraduate level, the graduate level and the post-doctorate level work with our scientist. They all work on extra research grants or they work on teacher assistantships or research assistantships in people's laboratories," said Baden.
At an economic outlook conference Tuesday, an industry expert explained the untapped potential in this field. A recent report predicts the global marine-biotechnology industry will grow to almost $4.1 billion by 2017. While the experts have not determined how much of that could come to the Tar Heel state, they say North Carolina's location and the new facility make a perfect concoction for economic development.
"When you build a new entity like a biotechnology industry, you need all the support, you need the bankers, you need the real estate agents, you need construction for new homes," said the CEO of Marine Bio-Technologies Center for Innovation Deborah Mosca.
A $15 million federal grant matched by the university made the building a reality. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of January.