Biotech in Arkansas
6 Jan, 2011By: Maria Luisa M. Haley
Located in the center of America’s heartland, Arkansas is the natural location for your new or expanding biotech business. Arkansas has a long history of individuals and companies creating innovative solutions to challenges they face. This entrepreneurial energy is now being applied to the biosciences. The State of Arkansas has recognized the need to partner with the scientists and entrepreneurs leading the effort for enhanced health care throughout the world. The momentum is building around leading-edge science in a region with a very desirable quality of life.
Arkansas is dedicated to building its bioscience industry organically through support of the growing research clusters around the state. There are many reasons to consider Arkansas as a future location to discover, design, launch or distribute a bioscience product or service.
Many companies are finding homegrown success in Arkansas – proof that Arkansas offers what it takes for technology businesses to grow and prosper – even those businesses whose roots began elsewhere. The businesses focus on health, agriculture and toxicology, just to name a few.
RxResults is a program designed to save the State of Arkansas millions of dollars in Medicaid drug costs. Backed by the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) College of Pharmacy's evidence-based program, EBRx, the program evaluates drugs and drug categories focusing solely on clinical equivalence and efficacy. EBRx’s evaluations are based on current medical literature and best-practices. As a result, the program cuts prescription drug costs while ensuring patients receive effective, high-quality medications. RxResults markets the services provided by EBRx to other states, self-insured businesses and other entities offering pharmacy benefits.
RxResults was created by UAMS BioVentures. The UAMS College of Medicine established UAMS BioVentures to maximize global, industrial interaction with the University of Arkansas faculty, as well as to facilitate technology transfer and develop startup companies that are based on UAMS technology. UAMS BioVentures links the research minds at UAMS to global markets in order to advance Arkansas' scientific and economic development. The facility consists of 17,000 square feet of wet lab and office incubator space, including an FDA-certified “ultra-clean lab” needed for human trial activities.
BioVentures also assisted the founding of The Center for Toxicology and Environmental Health LLC (CTEH). CTEH provides toxicology and environmental health consulting services. It was one of the contractors hired to assist with the environmental affects resulting from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Batesville’s FutureFuel Chemical Company engages in the manufacture of specialty organic chemical products. It offers biofuel products – including biodiesel, bioethanol and biomass solid fuels – and bio-based specialty products such as lubricants, solvents and intermediates. The company, formerly known as Eastman SE Inc., is a subsidiary of FutureFuelCorp.
Arkansas has other bioscience assets. As home to the world’s largest producer of protein products, Tyson Foods, and the world’s largest rice miller, Riceland Foods, significant research is taking place in agriculture-related bioscience. Tyson Foods’ recently expanded food-safety laboratory is just one example. Combine these private-sector research facilities with the Food and Drug Administration’s National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR) and Arkansas offers a critical mass of scientists working on food safety, biosecurity and plant-based medicine.
Arkansas’s public-private sectors continually collaborate to grow the state’s bioscience industry to meet the demands of the 21st century.
The Arkansas Biosciences Institute (ABI) is an agricultural and medical research consortium dedicated to improving the health of Arkansans. The institute was developed as part of the Tobacco Settlement Proceeds Act of 2000 and focuses on research in the agricultural and health sciences that will lead to health improvement, especially in the area of tobacco-related diseases. Members include scientists from Arkansas Children’s Hospital; Arkansas State University; the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture; the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville; and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
Innovate Arkansas, an initiative of Winrock International, works with new, technology-based entrepreneurs to turn inventions and high-tech concepts into viable businesses. The goal is to grow Arkansas’s presence in the knowledge, technology and information-based industries. The organization is currently working with several biotechnology and agricultural companies. The Innovate Arkansas team provides resources to new and startup technology-oriented companies, helping them commercialize products and technologies. Innovate Arkansas will assess the product, business plan and market, as well as help with startup, production and growth, including assisting with the development of capital.
Incentives/programs for early-stage biotech companies include the Targeted Business Tax Credit, Equity Investment Tax Credit and the Arkansas Risk Capital Matching Fund.
The Targeted Business Tax Credit is designed to help new, knowledge-based businesses in emerging sectors. The tax credit is a refund of sales and use taxes paid on the purchase of building materials, machinery and equipment associated with the approved project. It consists of a transferable income tax credit equal to 10 percent of payroll for up to five years and a transferable income tax credit equal to 33 percent of eligible research and development expenditures. The income tax credits earned under the program may be sold upon approval by the Arkansas Economic Development Commission.
The Equity Investment Tax Credit is provided in the form of tax credits to persons or companies investing in certain types of eligible businesses, including biotech. The tax credit is equal to 33 1/3 percent of the approved amount invested by an investor in an eligible business. This credit is transferable. It may only be sold once and, if sold, it must be sold within one year of earning the credit.
The Arkansas Risk Capital Matching Fund (ARCMF) is managed by the Arkansas Development Finance Authority and works to strengthen and advance the financial infrastructure that supports and accelerates the growth of technology-based enterprises in Arkansas. ARCMF targets fund investments in technology-based enterprises that are in the early stages of development and not yet able to attract adequate private sources of traditional financing, venture or investor-backed capital for their growth and development. A portion of this fund is used to validate early stage technology before other investments can be made.
If you or your company is interested in participating in ground-breaking science in a state with a long history of entrepreneurial success, please visit us at www.arkansasedc.com or call 1-800-ARKANSAS to learn more.