Chicago life-sciences incubator to open in early 2021

By Jenni Spinner

- Last updated on GMT

(Tetiana Lazunova/iStock via Getty Images Plus)
(Tetiana Lazunova/iStock via Getty Images Plus)

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The resource—designed to provide seed capital, lab space, offices and management consulting to researchers—is opening its doors earlier than expected.

Portal Innovations has announced its life-sciences development engine space, sited in the Fulton Market neighborhood of Chicago, will open its doors in the first quarter of 2021—one year earlier than originally planned. The moved-up launch reportedly comes after increased demand from scientists and entrepreneurs for such resources, as well as a surge in available investment opportunities.

John Flavin, founder and CEO of Portal Innovations, told Outsourcing-Pharma that the idea emerged out of the company’s extensive experience in building early-stage life sciences companies, and a belief in Chicago’s knowledge and business base.

“I founded Portal with a vision to bring our experience building companies, raising institutional capital as well as building civic organizations such as MATTER and University of Chicago’s Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation​,” he said. “I have always believed that Chicago has yet to achieve its potential to build and keep innovative early and growth stage companies here; the time is now to partner with the entire life sciences innovation ecosystem – city and state government, world class universities, powerhouse local multi-national healthcare companies, venture capital investors and the incredible network of inventors and entrepreneurs in Chicago and throughout the Midwest​.”

Portal is working with commercial real-estate developer Trammell Crow to launch the life sciences ecosystem at the Fulton Labs Campus. The first phase launch will include 11,000 square feet of wet and dry lab and office space at Fulton Labs at West End beginning in the first quarter of 2021; phase 2 will include 35,000 square feet of wet and dry lab and office space at Fulton Labs at Aberdeen beginning in the first quarter of 2022.

The venture assembly and investment platform of the project is intended to bridge the gap between scientific ideation and entrepreneurial realization for the life sciences, medtech and bioinformatics companies selected. The venture development platform is built to deliver seed capital, management expertise, access to a network of experts and investors, along lab and office space to qualified start-ups.

Cathryn Nagler, president of Portal Innovations portfolio firm ClostraBio, said her firm already has benefited.

“The Portal team has already made a tremendous impact on our company in a short time as demonstrated by our seed round extension and insights from its drug development team and expert network​,” Nagler said. “Having access to the amazing Fulton Labs infrastructure our region badly needs, one year earlier than expected, will further accelerate our anticipated development timeline​.”

Flavin added that the innovation space is preparing to open its doors at a dynamic time for the industry.

COVID-19 has made all of us acutely aware of our own health as well as the safety and health of the global community; there are so many big problems to solve in healthcare and at Portal we offer a welcoming environment for all that are interested in tackling unmet need in cell and gene therapy, immunotherapy and medical technology​,” he said. “We are dedicated to building the innovation ecosystem in Chicago, by investing capital, space and management expertise to create true value outcomes for our portfolio companies​.”

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