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Wisconsin Offers Free Stem Cell Research Licenses

October 02, 2006

Last week, Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle announced his administration and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) had reached an agreement that would allow companies sponsoring stem cell research in Wisconsin to obtain a free, non-exclusive research license under the stem cell patents held by WARF. WARF, which manages more than 720 pending and 880 issued U.S. patents on University of Wisconsin at Madison technologies, will not charge Wisconsin research centers for licenses on its stem cell patents. The agreement is part of Gov. Doyle's plan to help the state capture 10 percent of the national stem cell market by 2015.

The WiCell Research Institute, a subsidiary of WARF and operator of the National Stem Cell Bank, offers technology licenses, stem cell lines, and training for university and private sectors researchers around the world. WiCell provides five of the 21 stem cell lines available for federal funding and maintains more than 460 academic and commercial licenses on human embryonic stem cells. Its licenses directly affect all U.S. companies and research in the field.

The agreement gives Wisconsin a competitive advantage in growing and attracting biotechnology companies over other states active in stem cell research, such as California. Wisconsin's biotech economy generates nearly $7 billion annually and employs 22,000 workers earning well above the average state income. In its announcement, the governor's administration cited predictions that the market for stem cell products could reach $10 billion, and create more than 100,000 jobs over the next 10 years. Gov. Doyle expects the measure to keep Wisconsin at the forefront of this growth.

The agreement is part of a package of incentives offered by the state of Wisconsin, which also includes:

  • Free distribution on WARF stem cell lines and free stem cell-related training for all personnel for in-state companies;
  • Up to $250,000 in grants for stem cell companies that locate or expand in the state, along with additional tax credits;
  • Eligibility for early-stage stem cell companies for angel and venture capital tax credits; and,
  • Specialized assistance for stem cell research and commercialization through the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs Network and the Wisconsin Angel Network.

The announcement came less than two months before the state's gubernatorial election. Gov. Doyle's opponent, U.S. Representative Mark Green, has proposed his own plan to invest $25 million over the next four years in medical research that does not require the destruction of early-stage embryos.

Read Gov. Doyle's announcement at: http://www.wisgov.state.wi.us/journal_media_detail.asp?locid=19&prid=2346