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MSU-Bred Company Moves Into UM Research Center

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A chemistry company founded on Michigan State University science is the first commerical tenant of the University of Michigan’s new North Campus Research Complex, a former Pfizer Corp. research center.

Founded in 2005 by MSU chemists Rob Maleczka and Mitch Smith, BoroPharm has found the specialized space it needed for its growing worldwide business in specialized free-standing chemical production.

The company also hopes to continue to work with MSU to scale up its commercial processes at the MSU BioEconomy Institute in Holland, another former Pfizer site. With development in Holland, technology expertise in East Lansing and a business office in Novi, the company will now operate its research lab at UM’s new research center.

BoroPharm has moved into 4,300 square feet of space, of which two-thirds will be used immediately.

Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, M.D., UM executive vice president for medical affairs and CEO of the UM Health System, said BoroPharm’s willingness to collaborate with UM faculty and students was key to the university’s interest in the partnership. Building 40 on the 174-acre former Pfizer site is designed for specific chemistry processes. The univeristy did not have near-term plans to use the specialized labs, making the fit with BoroPharm a prime opportunity for both parties.

The university said it is aggressively pursuing additional public-private parnterships at NCRC, as well as shaping a strategy for the future of the 30-building site for its own researchers, support staff and students.

“We are eager for our faculty and students to begin working with BoroPharm,” Pescovitz said.

Todd Zahn, BoroPharm CEO, said his company plans to grow and become an important commercial collaborator at the NCRC.

BoroPharm develops and manufactures chemical intermediates with an emphasis on boron-based compounds designed to support scientists in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and chemical industries.

The company’s origins stemmed from the development of a process that supports the development of unique boron intermediates while using less organic solvent and hazardouns materials than current technologies. This work helped the company’s co-founders win a 2008 Presidential Award in Green Chemistry from the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

Boron-based chemicals are used as building blocks in new pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals and other chemical products.

“The NCRC location provides us a terrific platform to continue to grow our company and continue partnering with world-class researchers,” Zahn said. “We will be developing new products hwere. We are looking foward to a successful partnership here at the University of Michigan and in Ann Arbor.”

For more on the North Campus Resaerch Growth Complex, visit www.umresearchgrowth.org.

(c) 2010, WWJ Newsradio 950. All rights reserved.

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