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Can Prince William County Become The Next Bioscience Hub?


Prince William County is in a race to establish itself as the center of bioscience research and commercialization and it's making progress. 

The county’s science accelerator, established two years ago, now has three companies and will add two more in the next few months. Prince William’s head of economic development, Jeff Kaczmarek, says the accelerator is aiming to be at full capacity by the end of next year, as more companies take up its 9,100 SF, which is the only commercially available wet lab space in the region. 


The accelerator and its companies (Ceres Nanosciences, ISOThrive and Virongy) held an open house this week for elected officials and business leaders. The event highlighted the work of Ceres, which has developed a more accurate test for Lyme disease, as well as highlighting the bioscience ecosystem growing up in the county, including George Mason University’s Center for Applied Proteomics and Molecular Medicine and Northern Virginia Community College’s Manassas campus, which focuses on biotech education.

However, Jeff says he’d like to see more support from the state, especially since he needs about $2M worth of equipment for the accelerator companies to share. He’d also like the state to relax rules for sharing equipment that’s already established at nearby schools like Mason and NOVA Community College. He points out that the county established the accelerator on its own dime, including investing $1.3M to build out the space. 

The state and other entities could also help by attracting more equity investors. “If these companies don’t get funding beyond seed capital from professional investors or from venture capitalists, they’re not going to grow,” Jeff adds.  

His office recently hired a business development person to focus solely on attracting bioscience companies to the county, and the department will have a presence at several large, national bioscience conferences next year. 

Jeff says he’s also busy finding additional space for the Virginia Serious Game Institute based at Mason's Science and Technology campus, an incubator for serious computer game design that’s also fairly new. It’s doubled its space in the last year and now needs more. “We’re seeing this confluence of IT and biosciences in big data and data analytics and we’re just at the cusp. In five years, you won’t recognize this place,” says Jeff.