LA JOLLA, Calif., Oct. 29 -- The University of California-San Diego issued the following news release:
Two innovative UC San Diego spinoffs are among the 100 companies cited by The Science Coalition in a new report touting the positive economic payoff of federally funded university research.
Genomatica, a biotechnology company that grew from research conducted in Bernhard Palsson's laboratory at UC San Diego; and Senomyx, a provider of flavor ingredients for the food and beverage industries that arose from research conducted by Charles Zuker at UC San Diego, help demonstrate how support of basic and applied research at American universities pays strong economic dividends.
The new report released today by The Science Coalition, "Sparking Economic Growth 2.0," illustrates one of the many returns on investment of federally funded scientific research: the creation of new companies. The report highlights 100 companies that trace their roots to federally funded university research and their role in bringing transformational innovations to market, creating new jobs and contributing to economic growth. An accompanying online database provides free access to company profiles and allows users to sort companies by federal funding agency, university affiliation, type of innovation and other criteria.
The basic scientific research that gives rise to companies like those in this report is in jeopardy, says the report. Federal funding for R&D has been on a downward trend for the past decade, with funding levels in 2013 at historic lows. Sequestration, which began in March 2013, is set to run through 2021 and will wring an additional $95 billion from federal R&D budgets over this period. This national disinvestment in science will have real consequences. As the Sparking Economic Growth 2.0 companies illustrate, research and the transformative discoveries that flow from it require sustained funding over many years to yield results.
"Federal funding supports research in medicine, the sciences, the arts, oceanography, engineering and other fields," said Sandra A. Brown, Vice Chancellor for Research at UC San Diego, "research that UC San Diego is internationally recognized for translating into innovations, medical breakthroughs, jobs and new businesses in San Diego, California, and the nation."
Genomatica, for example, is working to transform the chemical industry by delivering new manufacturing processes that enable its partners to produce the world's most widely-used chemicals from renewable feedstocks, with better economics and greater sustainability than petroleum-based processes.
Using its proprietary biotechnology platform, the company creates fermentation-based manufacturing processes designed to convert a range of renewable feedstocks into target chemicals that meet industry specifications for large, established markets. Among its first target chemicals are butanediol, or BDO, and butadiene.
As a graduate student, Genomatica CEO Christophe Schilling studied under Bernhard Palsson, the Galetti professor of bioengineering in the Department of Bioengineering at UC San Diego's Jacobs School of Engineering. After receiving his Ph.D. in 2000, Schilling founded Genomatica with licensed technology developed in Palsson's lab.