Research Park Biotech Firm Chromatin, Inc. Expands Operations at University of Illinois
The University of Illinois today announces that Chromatin, Inc., a biotechnology company that has occupied space in the University’s Research Park since 2005 as part of the EnterpriseWorks incubator, is expanding operations and graduating to a 5,000 square foot facility in the Research Park. The expansion marks the company’s continued significant progress in commercializing its proprietary technology, including mini-chromosomes which were originally developed at the University of Chicago by company co-founder and CEO Daphne Preuss.
Chromatin will transition to the newly constructed facility, which is located in the “Graduation Building” of the Research Park, in April of 2010. With the larger laboratory and office space, the company will continue to expand its R&D activities which enable the development of new seed products and the delivery of multiple genetic traits in plants through gene-stacking, while widening their focus to pursue new applications, such as improved feedstocks targeting the bioenergy sector.
Avijit Ghosh, U of I VP of Technology and Business Development, said Chromatin’s commercialization success is a model for biotechnology startups in Illinois. “Chromatin is graduating from our EnterpriseWorks incubator where the Research Park provided laboratories, equipment and greenhouse space,” Ghosh said. “IllinoisVentures, the university-affiliated venture capital firm, was an early Chromatin investor. Also, The University of Illinois provided early support to fund student employees to work as researchers for Chromatin, MBA students to provide commercialization consulting, and entrepreneurship support services with regular events and training.”
Otto Folkerts, Director of Transgenic Programs and manager of Chromatin’s Champaign operation, said the University and Research Park support enabled the company to focus on advancing its technology and its business. “The EnterpriseWorks incubator has been the ideal place to launch our R&D programs in crops such as corn, cotton and sugarcane,” Folkerts said. “With the support of EnterpriseWorks, we’ve been efficient with our resources and better able to focus our efforts on innovation while developing our technology. By expanding the scale of our operations within the Research Park, we can further develop our existing programs and broaden our focus into new areas such as bioenergy feedstocks.”
Daphne Preuss, Chromatin’s CEO, said “We are very pleased to be growing our presence in the Champaign area and at the University’s Research Park location in particular. Our current expansion is a direct result of our success in commercializing Chromatin’s technology and successfully attracting financing, both of which were greatly facilitated by the University’s resources, facilities and significant talent pool.”
Chromatin was founded in 2000, is headquartered in Chicago and initially opened an office/lab in the University of Illinois’ EnterpriseWorks incubator in 2005. Chromatin has successfully licensed its technology through commercial agreements with leading agbiotech companies including Syngenta, Monsanto, Dow AgroSciences, and Bayer CropScience, for applications including corn, soybeans, cotton, sugarcane, and canola. The company is now leveraging that success and its core technology base by pursuing new value-added opportunities in the bioenergy feedstocks market. Chromatin now employs over 30 people, including 11 in Champaign, with plans for further increases in 2010.
Ghosh said he hopes other companies follow Chromatin’s success model and decide to remain in the park as their businesses grow. “We share in the pride of Chromatin’s success,” Ghosh said. “Central Illinois and the Midwest are a natural fit to grow the burgeoning 21st century bioenergy sector given the strength of agricultural research and industry.”
Chromatin, Inc. contacts:
Marc Tamo - MEDIA INQUIRIES Blue Practice
Otto Folkerts, Ph.D.
Director - Transgenic Programs
60 Hazelwood Drive
University of Illinois contact:
Associate Director of Research Park and Incubation Facilities
University of Illinois Research Park
About Chromatin: Chromatin, Inc. is developing and marketing innovative technology and products that can benefit the agricultural, energy, chemical, nutritional, and pharmaceutical sectors. Its proprietary gene stacking technology can be used in any plant to simultaneously and precisely introduce multiple genes, and this technology has been licensed to leading agbiotech companies for use in corn, soy, cotton, canola and sugarcane. Chromatin is building on this platform to create next generation crop products that are better designed to meet yield and performance requirements, including products targeted to the renewable energy industry.
For additional information visit: www.chromatininc.com.
About the University of Illinois Research Park: The Research Park at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign provides an environment where technology-based businesses can work with faculty and students on collaborative research on campus and also access University labs, equipment, and services. The Research Park is now home to 80 companies and growing, employing over 1,400 people in high-technology careers. At any given time over 400 UIUC student interns with leading-edge technical skills are working in these companies gaining valuable work experience while making real contributions to internal corporate R&D and product development programs. Publically traded firms in the Research Park include: ADM, Abbott Laboratories, Caterpillar, Deere & Company, Littelfuse, QUALCOMM, Riverbed, SAIC, Sony, State Farm, and Yahoo. The Research Park is home to 35 startup companies that are commercializing technology in the EnterpriseWorks incubator.
For additional information visit: www.researchpark.illinois.edu
About the University of Illinois: The University of Illinois is a world leader in research and discovery, the largest educational institution in the state with more than 71,000 students, 24,000 faculty and staff, and campuses in Urbana-Champaign, Chicago and Springfield. The U of I awards more than 18,500 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees annually.
For additional information visit: www.illinois.edu