MSU board authorizes steps to finalize Pfizer donation

Contact: Terry Denbow, University Relations, (517) 355-2261, cell (517) 927-5821, denbow@msu.edu

Dec 07, 2007

EAST LANSING, Mich. —A new Michigan State University bioeconomy research center, which will use a Holland, Mich., research and development building and pilot plant to be donated by Pfizer Inc., is one step closer to reality.

At today’s meeting, the MSU Board of Trustees approved a resolution that authorizes the university to complete the legal steps necessary to accept the gift and transfer use of the property.

MSU envisions using the site to complement and extend campus research that supports the state’s emerging bioeconomy, including biofuels, bio-based chemicals and biomaterials.

In 2005, Pfizer announced its intent to close the 46-acre pharmaceutical campus in Holland. Lakeshore Advantage, the Holland-area economic development organization, then collaborated with Pfizer to explore the possibility of repurposing the site.

In early 2007, attention focused on the potential donation to MSU of one component of Pfizer’s Holland campus: a 138,000-square-foot, research and development facility and pilot plant.

It contains 37,000 liters of chemical reactor capacity with centralized automatic controls, supported by modern laboratories for approximately 100 researchers, a 125-seat auditorium, a library, an atrium and offices.

“The authorization by the board marks an essential milestone in the process to finalize this significant donation,” said MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon. “MSU looks forward to recognizing the generosity of Pfizer and the Holland-Zeeland Community Foundation donors appropriately, upon completion of the transaction.”

"MSU took a major step forward today, not only for the university, but for the community and the entire state of Michigan as well," said Randy Thelen, president of Lakeshore Advantage. "We are pleased to be on track for the opening of the research institute in 2008." 

Board action on the authorization follows a year of conversations with industry, state and community leaders, plus operational and financial planning, site assessment and feasibility review. To date, Lakeshore Advantage and MSU have secured $3.4 million in support for the initiative from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. through a Michigan Strategic Fund grant competition.

MSU has also received approval for use of $500,000 from a U.S. Department of Labor Workforce Improvement through Regional Economic Development (WIRED) grant.

University discussions regarding embedded research opportunities for private and public sector collaborators are yielding interest and enthusiasm, said Ian Gray, MSU vice president for research and graduate studies.

“Conversations with firms anticipating the use of bio-based materials in Michigan furniture, automotive and packaging products are particularly promising,” he said. “MSU also looks forward to the opportunity to conduct bioeconomy research, training and commercialization activities side-by-side with students and faculty from other academic institutions.”

“MSU is committed to helping Michigan strengthen and diversify its economy in communities across the entire state,” Simon said. “This facility will enable us to further expand our bio-based research activities and continue our efforts to enhance the economy, the environment and the quality of life in Michigan and around the globe.”