16 Tech 'More Than Life Sciences'

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The chief executive officer of the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute says its future home will be known as world class for more than just the life sciences. The $360 million IBRI, the anchor tenant of the planned 16 Tech innovation district in Indianapolis, will focus on research in metabolic diseases and nutrition. But CEO David Broecker says the mixed-use park will be filled with a variety of advanced industries and on par with recognized innovation communities like Kendall Square in Boston and Mission Bay in San Francisco. "We don't want this to just be a life science park with the Lilly's and Roche's of the world," said Broecker, who expects a 16 Tech groundbreaking in the spring. "We really want all innovation to be part of this district."

Last week, the IBRI received a major boost with an $80 million grant from Lilly Endowment, Inc. and a $20 million grant from the Eli Lilly and Co. Foundation. Organizers say the big gifts make the efforts behind the IBRI "sustainable" and allow them to now go beyond the boundaries of Indiana to attract talent.

"To really attract that world class talent and ask them to leave established places and come to the IBRI and Indianapolis and Indiana, it takes these kinds of resources," said Broecker.

Currently, the IBRI is in startup mode, with about 8 staff members in temporary space near the 16 Tech site, close to the IUPUI campus on Indy's near west side. Plans call for the institute to grow into an organization with 150 to 200 scientists and their teams.

Eli Lilly and Co. (NYSE: LLY) Senior Vice President of Corporate Business Development Darren Carroll says it’s important to understand the institute’s focus on metabolic disease, which continues to take a toll nationally and in Indiana. "One out of three Americans suffer from some metabolic disease... cardiovascular disease, diabetes or obesity," said Carroll. "And don't forget, cardiovascular disease is still our nation’s number one killer."

Carroll says Lilly could be one of the companies with a physical presence at 16 Tech. "We see ourselves long-term trying to find a lot of different, unique ways to work with the scientists at the IBRI, as well as more ways to continue to work with the physician scientists at places like the IU School of Medicine nearby," said Carroll.

16 Tech Community Corp. President Betsy McCaw has said the development could result in more than 2,600 jobs and $450 million in private investment and will be key to the city’s "ongoing efforts to develop, attract and retain top talent."

In November, the Indianapolis City-County Council OK’ed the sale of $75 million in bonds to support infrastructure improvements for 16 Tech. Those improvements have and are expected to be complete in early 2018.

Broecker expects the IBRI to be ready to open its doors in the new park by the middle of 2018.

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