Prince William County marks the opening of Northern Virginia Bioscience Center

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For Claire Blanchard, walking into a new office space is a “breath of fresh air.”

That’s exactly what her company, SYSTAAQ Diagnostics, got when it moved into the new Northern Virginia Bioscience Center at Innovation Park.

“It offers endless opportunities to grow as a company,” she said.

Officials on Tuesday held a grand opening for the facility, which is the first of its kind in Prince William County.

Holladay Properties oversaw construction of the $16.5 million, 30,000-square-foot commercial wet lab, which will serve as a space for new and growing life sciences businesses to grow and build off the existing Prince William Science Accelerator.

“We have companies, researchers that are accelerating out of that building, and they have a new home across the street,” said Brentsville Supervisor Jeanine Lawson.

A wet lab is used for experiments that can involve various types of chemical and potential hazards. The labs are specially designed to avoid spills and contamination.

The county established the accelerator in 2014 to boost the local life sciences industry along with other developments at Innovation Park, including the establishment of George Mason University’s Institute for Advanced Biomedical Research.

The accelerator is across the street from the new bioscience center in Innovation Park, off Prince William Parkway near GMU’s Science and Technology Campus.

The county’s Innovation Park small-area plan hopes to turn the area into a mixed-use, science and technology-oriented employment hub. County staff have estimated that the district could support between 19,917 and 38,392 jobs, as well as 2,392 to 3,997 homes.

In 2019, the Board of County Supervisors authorized the sale of the land to PWC Innovation Research I LLC, a subsidiary of Holladay, for the bioscience center. The 4.4 acres sold for $784,000.

Board of Supervisors Chair Ann Wheeler said the new center creates a “clear pipeline for future talent” in conjunction with George Mason.

“It’s projects like this that are really putting Prince William on the map,” she said. “I think we really learned in the pandemic that life sciences is important.”

One of the tenants already moved into the center is IQ Genetix, a molecular diagnostic company. Among its work is processing COVID-19 tests for area nursing homes.

The company’s CEO, Jeff Mohler, who spoke to visitors via Zoom, said the lab is its flagship location and started at the county’s accelerator facility. It moved from a 400-square-foot space to 800 square feet, then 1,200 and finally its current 5,000-square-foot lab in the new center.

The larger area allows the company to process between 5,000 and 7,000 COVID-19 tests a day.

“It’s impressive,” Mohler said. “It’s a high-tech facility.”

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