International life sciences companies like St. Louis-based Sigma-Aldrich are among the 64 enterprises that have set up shop within the Genopole complex.

A bioscience park about 18 miles south of Paris will be looking to recruit companies in Atlanta at the BIO 2009 International Convention beginning May 18. 

Genopole, a non-profit complex funded by national and local governments in France, moved from its initial Paris location to the suburb of Evry about two years ago to gain room for expansion.

Eric Lameignere, director of Genopole Enterprise, the business development and recruitment arm of the park, will travel to the annual biotechnology trade show, which is expected to draw 16,000-20,000 attendees from about 70 countries to the Georgia capital.

GlobalAtlanta traveled to France to report on the country’s bioscience initiatives as well as companies and organizations that will be exhibiting at BIO 2009.

Mr. Lameignere said he will be seeking companies to fill a newly built laboratory facility on the Genopole complex.  As a whole, the complex has nearly 900,000 square feet of lab and office space, 23 research labs – including three national-scale centers – and more than 900 scientists.

With a new hospital under construction next door, the introduction of science disciplines a decade ago at a nearby 12,000-student university and an on-site business incubator for small companies, Mr. Lameignere said that Genopole will soon achieve the four pillars that he says every bioscience park needs in order to succeed: research, education, business and a medical facility.

Mr. Lameignere said Genopole’s location next to national centers for genotyping and genosequencing augments the scientific environment the park hopes to provide for companies.  The new building has office spaces of about 500-3,200 square feet, and to reduce overhead costs for startups, companies will share the use and cost of expensive lab equipment.

As an example of cutting-edge activities going on in and near Genopole, Mr. Lameignere cited ongoing stem cell research, investigation of the basic genetic units of life and the development of new biomaterials.

One such material involves the production of large quantities of spider silk, which pound-for-pound offers a level of resistance higher than steel, Mr. Lameignere said.

Scientists implant the mammary cells of a goat with the gene from the spider that produces silk, and the goat’s milk is imbued with the same protein, which is then strained from the milk.  If produced successfully on a mass scale, the material could be used in bulletproof vests and other applications.

“The revolution is to use the living to produce the materials of the future,” Mr. Lameignere said.

Mr. Lameignere hopes to find partners at the BIO convention.  Genopole is one of about 100 French companies that will exhibit at the trade show.

He said France is a favorable place to be in the biotechnology business. The cost of research for example, decreased significantly when France undertook reforms to its tax structure for biotech companies.  Companies that move their research and development there can get tax credits on up to 30 percent of their expenditures. 

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...