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Fulton Labs, New Biotech Startup In Fulton Market, Aims To Grow Chicago's Biotech And Life Sciences Industry

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Seeking to boost Chicago's role in the biotech industry, officials cut the ribbon Thursday on a new business incubator for life sciences.

Fulton Labs, a 14-story complex at 1375 W. Fulton Av., is designed to draw biotech and pharmaceutical startups, and help provide them with critical resources they need to succeed.

"I believe we're cutting the ribbon on Chicago's future. Portal is set to open up Chicago's role in the bio century," said John Flavin, founder and CEO of Portal Innovations, a national life sciences, medtech and bioinformatics start-up incubator, which launched Fulton Labs along with real estate developer Trammell Crow Company.

Flavin said the goal is to encourage the development of budding life sciences companies coming out of premier research institutions in the Chicago area, including Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, Rush University, and more.

"It's the equivalent of Chess Records, or Buddy Guy's Legends bar, where, you know, blues guitarists, rock bands come hang out, build a team to create great material. Here, we'll be bringing that same mentality to scientists, and those innovators that want to create great material as well," Flavin said of Fulton Labs, where Portal Innovations is based. "To make great music, you need a great team, you need access to money, you need access to promoters, and you need access to the right studio and space. So they'll do that here at Portal."

Mayor Lori Lightfoot helped cut the ribbon on the new facility.

"Portal Innovation will allow us to unlock our city's assets and grow our life sciences and healthcare innovation centers," she said. "Our national labs are just brimming with talent and ideas and innovation; and this center will allow them to take their ideas and build them into businesses that will ultimately provide life-saving drugs and therapies for people."

Michael Fassnacht, who Lightfoot recently tapped as the new full-time CEO of World Business Chicago, a public-private partnership that serves as the city's job growth agency, said the Chicago area is already home to the nations' third largest medical life sciences industry.

Fassnacht said nearly 6 million square feet of new lab space are in development in Chicago over the next few years.

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