Recorded: 08 May 2008
The kernel of the idea probably started in the mid-nineties, but we, about four years ago we really started in earnest trying to raise the money to start the institute. We had, we raised about eighty-million dollars in private donations and then we convinced the Governor of Alabama to match that with fifty-million dollars from the State and so we just twelve days ago opened the doors on a fabulous facility that Rick Myers is going to be the scientific director of.
The idea of the Institute is putting biotech companies and scientists all in the same building. So in this building, two-hundred-and-seventy-thousand square-foot building, a little over half is devoted to companies and right now there are twelve biotech companies in the building and these are real companies, not start-ups. And then there are another one-hundred-thousand square-feet devoted to non-profit research. There’s – they share all of the rest of the space in common: seminar rooms, library, everything – café – and have joint seminars every week and work together
So we’ll have you know, a bar for after-hours. Twenty-four-hour-a-day coffee shop, and the building is really designed where everyone comes and goes through one set of doors; so that people will all mix and mingle. There are four floors and on every floor it’s connected through a big atrium and through – across the atrium is a bridge that everybody goes to the center of the bridge and down the elevator. And on the bridge is a little area where if you bump into somebody and want to talk, you can sit down and talk and interact.
My role was to get it started and so my role was to recruit somebody like Rick Myers, my role was to bring in an education leader like Neil Lamb. And if I have any remaining role it is to make sure that the pipeline of companies that come into the Institute and graduate from the Institute continue to build on the campus and fulfill this vision of a mile-long linear campus with both academic and commercial buildings just alternating down the campus.
Jim Hudson scientist and businessmen who founded Research Genetics in 1987, the company that made synthetic DNA. He received a dual major in chemistry and physics from the University of Alabama and studied molecular biology. His company was very successful and dominated the market for synthetically made DNA in USA. That allowed Research Genetics to play a main role in the Human Genome Project. Company was sold in 2000 to Invitrogen.
Jim Hudson is co-founder of HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in Huntsville. Together with his wife he formed a biodefense company, Concero Scientific.
More information: Technology Alabama