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DuBiotech, or the Dubai Biotechnology and Research Park, is a science park development in the city of Dubai. It has been under construction since the official launch in February 2005 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the vice-president and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates.
This project forms a major part of the Dubai 2010 vision to base the city’s economy on a more knowledge-based footing. It is expected to attract more biotechnology/life science research, development and manufacturing to the country.
The new research park will be the world’s first biotech park free-zone. It will offer major tax advantages and services such as 50 years’ exemption from personal, income and corporate taxes, long-term land leases, 100% foreign ownership, state-of-the-art IT and telecommunications infrastructure, 100% repatriation of profits, trouble-free incorporation with little formality, government services division for registration, fast-track immigration and customs procedures.
DuBiotech is a subsidiary of the Government of Dubai’s holding company, Dubai Holding and a member of Tecom Investments. DuBiotech Park, which was set up under the Dubai Technology and Media Free Zone Authority, is being built on a 300ha area with an estimated cost of about Dh130m for the infrastructure, and Dh600m for the lab and headquarters buildings.
The DuBiotech entity will have two operating arms: the first is a Foundation for Research and Innovation focusing on government-funded R&D in a number of important areas (medicine, genetics, agriculture, stem cell research); and the second will aim to set up biotech clusters with high-quality infrastructure for incubators, research labs, manufacturing facilities and educational facilities.
Phase 1 of DuBiotech was completed at the end of 2008. During this phase, DuBiotech partnered with relevant government authorities to develop the regulatory framework required to facilitate biotechnological and pharmaceutical research in the area. In order to ensure that the actual business ecosystem are followed, DuBiotech also benchmarked its regulatory framework with international best practices
The first phase also saw more than 50 international life sciences companies register with DuBiotech as business partners. They include Genzyme, Pfizer, Merck Serono and Amgen.
Phase 2 includes the completion of the Lab Nucleotide Complex and the Bio Headquarters towers. Major life sciences industrial clusters were created in the Middle East while establishing a co-operation framework among government bodies, academic institutions and business partners.
Relocation of the existing life sciences companies to the new DuBiotech headquarters and labs will also happen in the second phase. In April 2009, VINS Bioproducts announced its decision to set up its regional headquarters at DuBiotech. In May 2010. Spain-based Flores Valles Group announced its plans to establish its Middle East subsidiary at DuBiotech.
At completion, the direct investment of DuBiotech is estimated to be around $400m excluding third-party investments. DuBiotech aims to strengthen the partnerships with governmental bodies in key areas such as regulatory affairs, federal and local policies and academic projects during the second phase.
The DuBiotech complex will eventually occupy an area of around 30,000,000ft² (2,790,000m²) in a strategic area of the city near the the Al Maktoum International Airport, which opened in June 2010.. The first phase has attracted an investment of over DH1.2bn. The masterplan of the new park, produced by Parsons and CHU2A, divides it into zones that will focus on different areas including R&D, manufacturing and commercial/office use.
DuBiotech will comprise four buildings including the DuBiotech Headquarters (Bio-HQ), which won the American Institute of Architects Honor Award for Design and Sustainability in 2007 and the large-scale four-storey laboratory complex, which is called ‘The Nucleotide Complex’ (company R&D use). The Nucleotide complex became operational in December 2009, and received LEED certification in April 2010. Bio-HQ is scheduled for completion in 2011.
All park buildings are expected to be constructed to LEED, GLP and ISO 17025 certification standards. The park is expected to generate some 20,000 jobs after completion.
The Nucleotide Complex
Spanning an area of about 256,000ft², the Nucleotide Complex comprises of state-of-the-art laboratory buildings. These were custom built for industrial and scientific R&D, analytical testing, diagnostics, equipment training activities and after-sales services, among others.
The LEED-certified core-and-shell lab space of the complex can accommodate up to 160 laboratory units. These are designed to meet class III bio-safety standards/guidelines. The laboratory units have unique layout customisations with a biological safety cabinet and exhaust systems for air filtration. Air exhaust and ventilation systems are designed specifically to stop cross contamination between lab spaces.
It is also equipped with sterilised high-grade stainless steel mechanical equipments ensuring required standards of hygiene. They also have pH neutralisation systems and acid resistant drainage along with a back-up power system.
The Nucleotide Complex cost AED289m ($68m) to construct and has four wings named A, C, T and G, after the four nucleotide bases that make up the structure of DNA. All four wings were booked at the time the complex became operational. The companies that have agreed to relocate to the labs include MAQUET Middle East, a producer of operating room systems and ICUs; and phase one of the National Reference Lab, an initiative by Mubadala Healthcare in association with Laboratory Corporation of America Holdings.
The complex was designed by CUH2A, a well-known designer of scientific facilities. It will have the most modern of amenities including a pre-clinical vivarium and an animal testing laboratory spread over 10,000ft².
The BIO Headquarters Towers
The 60,000ft² headquarters of DuBiotech (designed by CUH2A) will become one of the world’s largest LEED-certified buildings. The building has 22 storeys.
DuBiotech won the Design and Sustainability Honour Award from the American Institute of Architects for the technologically complex headquarters in 2007. The building is designed to reflect a DNA movement in a gel electrophoresis, a technique commonly used in the industry. The two towers are flanked through a jewel case which has the business centre and retail facilities.
The buildings have been cleverly sited and designed to make maximum use of natural light, but also to minimise solar gain without resorting to expensive AC cooling systems. The HQ will also have a 500,000ft² animal reserve for indigenous conservation and wildlife protection. The architecture of the building is meant to represent the DNA migration in an agarose gel seen during electrophoresis.
Warehousing amenities and leasable land
The pre-built units are designed mainly for showrooms, distribution, storage, logistics and light manufacturing for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. With specialised focus on manufacturing research and development, this land can be leased by third-party investors. The total leasable land is about 8.2 million square feet with flexibility in size, starting from 38,000ft².
DuBiotech Business Center offers furnished offices that cater to small and medium-sized companies and start-ups.
Other parts of the park
With the generous taxation allowances offered by the free-zone so far, over 42 companies have set up offices in the area with many others set to follow suit. For the space offered in the park there will be 457,780ft² of commercial space, 245,003ft² of laboratory space (both permanent), 5,369,092ft² of R&D space and 2,127,735ft² of manufacturing space (both leased land areas).
It had been announced that 50% of the manufacturing space allocated at the park has already been taken up with 28 facilities already in the construction stage. These facilities are to produce medical devices, pharmaceuticals and biotech products.
The New Medical Center (NMC) Group based in Abu Dhabi is expected to set up a large biotechnology facility in the park. BioMedix Inc is constructing the 47,232ft² BioMedix facility at DuBiotech that will manufacture in-vitro diagnostic (IVD) equipment such as: ELISA kits, PCR requisites, run controls and proficiency panels.
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