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Pfizer to Host Bioscience Incubator

A new bioscience incubator will be created in an empty building on the Groton campus of drug giant Pfizer. The state will also move its data center to the site.

On Pfizer's sprawling Groton campus there are several buildings that, if you step inside, look a little unloved. Wednesday morning, Susan Froshauer, the president of CURE, Connecticut's bioscience cluster, gave a tour of the romantically named Building 286 to Governor Dannel Malloy. 

The 24,000-square-foot facility will become the Cure Innovation Commons -- an incubator for startup companies, housing labs, conference rooms, and office space.

Malloy said a recent visit he made to a New London coffee shop demonstrated just how badly needed this is. "Lo and behold," he said, "in the back of the coffee house were six or seven scientists, some of whom had worked here at Pfizer. They were using that space to collaborate."

There are no guarantees the coffee will be as good, but the facilities at this new incubator should be an improvement, said Susan Froshauer, after it gets a $4 million facelift courtesy of a state bond. "The Commons will offer lab and office spaces for technology companies," she said, "and as we grow, provide services, support, programing, and training related to the life sciences and technology world."

Froshauer herself is a former Pfizer employee. The reason all of this space has become available is the progressive downsizing of the company in Connecticut.

Head of the Groton site Rod MacKenzie said reuse has been carefully considered. "In recent years," he said, "we've maximized our operating efficiency here on the site, and we've had to consolidate laboratory and office space. In every single case, we've made our very best effort to find new uses for buildings that we no longer needed."

A second building on the site will now be rented to the state for one dollar a year to provide a new home for its IT data center.

These two successful reuse stories come just a few weeks after Pfizer began demolition of the biggest unused building on its site: a 900,000-square-foot lab known as Building 118 that it said simply became too expensive to save.

Harriet Jones is Managing Editor for Connecticut Public Radio, overseeing the coverage of daily stories from our busy newsroom.

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