WILMINGTON, N.C. – The University of North Carolina Wilmington’s new marine biotechnology campus has its first tenant.
Ocis Biotechnology and Custom Skincare DRx, a medical skin care company, moved into UNCW’s Marine Biotechnology in North Carolina campus – better known as MARBIONC – earlier this month.
The Wilmington-based company is occupying one of the MARBIONC building’s 13 corporate labs. UNCW researchers also occupy part of the buidling, which opened in late September.
Ocis Biotechnology has been open for about a year and a half, and it launched its Custom Skincare DRx product about a month ago, said owner Lisa Day. The company works with dermatologists and plastic surgeons to create skin care products tailored to patients’ needs using marine ingredients.
“It was perfect timing that the university has all of this research going on, and then we are able to commercialize that,” she said. “Our goal is to get big enough to be able to buy research from the programs that are going on here.”
The $30 million MARBIONC building, along with the Center for Marine Science, is part of UNCW’s CREST – the Campus for Research, Entrepreneurship, Service and Teaching – off Masonboro Loop Road. CREST designates certain parts of UNCW that can partner with businesses, giving the university the ability to make money on some of its academic research.
By having scientists in the same building as businesses – or nonprofits, government agencies or other academic research groups – the MARBIONC staff hopes creating commercial value from research will happen naturally.
But some people at UNCW want more clarification on how that transition happens. The university’s faculty senate passed a resolution at its Nov. 12 meeting asking for more input in creating the structure and hiring process of the CREST project.
The CREST project is relatively new at UNCW, and while “it’s not exactly the Wild West,” senior officials are still trying to determine exactly how the project will work, said Paul Townend, chair of the university’s history department and a member of the faculty senate research committee.
“All of the ‘working out’ of (the project) raises the exact same kinds of questions that research on campus raises,” Townend said. “Where are the right places to apply resources, especially in a world where they’re shrinking?”
Townend said his committee felt the CREST project was a necessary and important way to make up for decreasing state funding.
“I think faculty just want to be present while we’re figuring it all out,” he said.