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UNC Wilmington opens new biotechnology facility

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TWC News: UNC Wilmington opens new biotechnology facility
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WILMINGTON -- A new $30 million facility on the coast turns research into jobs.

On Monday, UNC Wilmington officially opened its Biotechnology Building.

While student Amy Barbera is working on her master's degree in science, she's also getting firsthand experience as a research assistant.

"It's helping me understand research and development for pharmaceuticals," said Barbera.

Studying how marine resources can be used to create medicines is just one example of the type of research that can be done in the 69,000-square foot facility. There's space for university researchers as well as outside research companies.

"We are looking to take our discoveries and get them into the private sector to create new jobs, create economic diversity and actually create new industries in southeastern, North Carolina," said Daniel Baden, the director of the Center for Marine Science.

A report predicts the global marine-biotechnology industry will grow to almost $4.1 billion by 2017.

Baden said this facility could bring some of those dollars to North Carolina.

"Drawing on the marine resources as we are doing gives a whole new series of resources for biotechnology companies here, biotechnology companies in the Triangle, biotechnology companies in Charlotte, all over the state as well as all over the East Coast and the nation," said Baden.

OCIS Biotechnology is the first outside company to lease lab space. It uses marine resources for skin care products.

"What attracted us to this building is the resource for marine actives and marine chemistries that are very big in medical skin care," said Lisa Day, with OCIS Biotechnology.

Barbera said it's a home for opportunities.

"It's going to be interesting to see what kinds of companies come into the area, what kind of research they are going to bring and how many opportunities it's going to open for employment," said Barbera.

A $15 million federal grant matched by the university paid for the new building.

It sits on the Intracoastal Waterway in the CREST Research Park.

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