On Thursday, a science major came to the City, quite literally. The San Antonio City Council approved a $1 million economic incentive fund grant to help relocate the Rostock, Germany-based biotechnology company, Cytocentrics Bioscience to the city. The company, which offers both a product portfolio and services, will have its international corporate headquarters in San Antonio’s District 9.
As part of this relocation deal, the company will, in turn, create 300 high-paying jobs in the region, with an average salary of $70,000, invest $15 million, and enter into a research and development partnership with the Center for Innovative Drug Discovery (CIDD), a joint venture between the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, as well as another partnership for workforce development with the Alamo Colleges.
District 9 City Councilman Joe Krier said at a news conference announcing the move that when he was CEO of the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, an economic impact study showed that the medical/biomedical sector was the city’s top industry and it made sense to go ahead with the partnership.
“As co-chair of the San Antonio Medical Foundation’s Strategic planning task force, this announcement is dramatic support of our call for out-of-the-box cooperation and collaboration,” said Grier. To much laughter, he added, looking at Cytocentrics CEO, Dr. Jim Garvin: “And I also congratulate you for buying a house in District 9. I look forward to making sure your potholes are repaired whenever that's necessary.” San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor said that given that the biomedical industry employed one in six San Antonians, and had a more than an estimated $30 billion in economic impact, it made sense to focus on that sector.
Garvin meanwhile said he believed that the grant would work to their benefit in two ways. It would continue “to tell the world about the unique impact” he believed their company was having on medical research and “what that impact can mean for improving all our lives.” And in a nod to his new hometown, he added: “As well as telling the scientific community that San Antonio is a dynamic, vibrant community and a great place to come and be a part of.”
UTSA’s Vice President for Research, Dr. Mauli Agrawal, made a pertinent point on the collaboration, saying it was an example of how “the private sector, academia, and the City can partner together to enable progress, drive innovation, and ultimately create more jobs,” while U-T Health Science Center President, Bill Henrich, said this would expedite the process of testing new cancer, heart disease and pain management drugs. “In a time when research funding is scarce and collaboration is essential, we are happy to welcome Cytocentrics Bioscience to San Antonio and are grateful for their generosity,” Henrich said.
He added that this would also benefit other institutions in South Texas, because the Health Science Center campus would house two of the company’s CytoPatch machines, and other South Texas institutions could make use of them for research. “The technology of the CytoPatch is very sophisticated and will provide opportunities to expand our research and garner additional grant funding to foster discovery,” said Henrich.
As the work Cytocentrics does lies at the convergence of robotics, microbiology and bioscience, city and university officials believe the partnership potentially has major impact for drug discovery research across disciplines, and give UTSA’s push to obtain Tier-1 status a more holistic feel.
On the job front, as about 53 percent of them will need some sort of certified training through the Alamo Colleges, it would also be a major opportunity for the Alamo Colleges to train locals for high-paying, high tech jobs.