NOBIC: where biotechnology and commercialization meet

The tenants and partners of the New Orleans BioInnovation Center (NOBIC) form an extraordinarily complex Venn diagram.

Entrepreneurship, science, innovation, technology, academia, commercialization and economic development all meet at NOBIC, a business incubator in downtown New Orleans. Despite the complexity, the pieces that make up NOBIC have one shared interest: improving public health through biotechnology. And since opening in 2012, NOBIC has created more than 300 new companies and over 700 high-wage jobs aimed at fulfilling this mission.

NOBIC success stories often lay their foundations at local universities. The center has close relationships with LSU, UNO, Tulane and Xavier. Once projects get off the ground, NOBIC’s role is both a physical space for research and a source for commercialization tools.

NOBIC houses state-of-the-art labs where advances in biotechnology continuously happen. On the other hand, there are teams that can assist with company planning, legal advice, market research and other resources critical to company success. Imagine a lab tech bumping into an accountant on the elevator, that’s NOBIC.

One particular company at NOBIC that has spread its wings in recent years is AxoSim. Since its founding by Tulane students in 2014, the once fledgling preclinical pharmaceutical research group has been awarded over $4.2M in federal grant funding. In November 2020, AxoSim became the first company in the Benson Capital Partners portfolio.

From their home base at NOBIC, AxoSim is transforming biopharmaceuticals with its Nerve-on-a-Chip platform. This technology takes nerve and brain cells from stem cells and puts them on microchips to test pharmaceutical therapies in a preclinical setting. Nerve-on-a-Chip is aiding in the development of safer and more effective cures while also saving millions of dollars and years of research and development time.

For startups like AxioSim, initial funding doesn’t come easy. That’s where NOBIC’s business support arm, the New Orleans BioFund, kicks in.

The BioFund program helps growth-minded small businesses access capital when they may not qualify for traditional financing options. Founded a year after NOBIC in 2012, BioFund sponsored companies, including AxoSim, have created or retained over 400 full-time positions.

Fluence Analytics, another venture out of Tulane, recently received a Series A round of funding from the BioFund. The company’s proprietary analytical tools deliver real-time monitoring and control of polymer reactions. Polymer and biopharmaceutical manufacturers use the resulting data for faster research and development, greater yields, improved product quality and reduced cycle times.  The company was founded in 2013 to commercialize the technologies developed at Tulane.

The automated predictive control software and analytics used by Fluence Analytics was developed with support from Louisiana Economic Development.

Inside NOBIC’s 66,000 square feet LEED Gold-certified building, more success stories like AxoSim and Fluence Analytics are brewing. Funding certainly helps and NOBIC got a recent boost from the U.S. Economic Development Administration to aid its mission. In September 2020, the center received $1.5 million from the USEDA which NOBIC anticipates will create or retain 650 jobs while also attracting $75 million in private capital. Funding like this ensures that premium facilities like NOBIC continue to lead in the global biotechnology market.

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