March 23, 2023
Generating Returns:Torrey Pines touts a state-funded program to develop drugs

Southeast Roundup

Generating Returns:Torrey Pines touts a state-funded program to develop drugs

Mike Vogel | 2/26/2015

A state-funded program to accelerate drug discovery in Florida is paying off, says Richard Houghten, the head of Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies in Port St. Lucie, one of the life science centers recruited to Florida in the last decade via hefty incentives.

The state granted Torrey Pines $6 million over two years to pay for the program. Free of charge, Torrey Pines offers samples of proprietary molecules and compounds it has developed to researchers at Florida universities and nonprofits, who can then test the effects of the compounds on diseases they’re investigating.

Houghten gave a talk on the program at the annual BioFlorida Conference in Fort Lauderdale in October.

Should the collaboration lead to a marketable product, the research institution and Torrey Pines share in the payday. The state’s grant money pays for Torrey Pines to replenish its libraries of compounds, create new ones and facilitate sharing them so that drug development activity can accelerate in Florida.

Torrey Pines has worked with 40 researchers at 14 institutions on 49 “unique targets.” The hits have led to more than $5 million in grant submissions, one patent application and a number of licensing discussions with private companies, Houghten says.

Business Briefs

BOCA RATON — Canadian mattress company Essentia opened a store in Mizner Park, the first of several, and moved its headquarters from Montreal along with several jobs. It plans to add a local factory employing 40 in 2016. > The Schmidt Family Foundation, longtime donor to Florida Atlantic University, gave $16 million, the largest single gift in FAU history, to the university to build a student-athlete dorm, the Schmidt Family Complex for Academic and Athletic Excellence, adjacent to the football stadium. Dick Schmidt earned his MBA in accounting in 1970 from FAU. The family foundation has given in the past to the College of Arts and Letters as well as the med school, nursing college and engineering college.

FORT LAUDERDALE — Workers’ comp broker Patriot National went public, raising $141 million. > Real estate and middle-market business investment company BBX Capital, the former owner of BankAtlantic, says it will appeal a jury’s ruling that the company and CEO Alan Levan misled investors with false statements made in an earnings conference call about the bank’s condition during the 2007 financial meltdown. Levan says the statements were true. > Miami Worldcenter developers Art Falcone and Nitin Motwani and developer Daniel Kodsi broke ground on the Paramount Fort Lauderdale Beach, an 18-story, 95-unit condo tower on the site of an old Howard Johnson. > Cruise Lines International Association plans to shut its Fort Lauderdale office and consolidate in Washington, D. C. > Weston-based In Site Group acquired the 487-room Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach, the old Yankee Clipper hotel, and reflagged it as B Ocean Resort, a brand of Weston based B Hotels & Resorts.

INDIAN TOWN — Locally based telecom ITS Telecommunication Systems began offering fiber service at speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second.

JUNO BEACH — Next Era Energy acquired Hawaiian Electric Industries for $4.3 billion.

JUPITER — Golfer and businessman Greg Norman will relocate the headquarters for his numerous businesses from West Palm Beach to Jupiter.

PALM BEACH GARDENS — A private equity firm bought security and fire support services company G4S Government Solutions for $135 million. The company has been renamed Centerra Group.

PALM CITY — Business jet seating company PAC Seating Systems was chosen by San Antonio, Texas based GDC Technics to provide all the seating for three planes.

ST. LUCIE COUNTY — Building permit activity hit a five-year high in the county. Through the first 10 months of 2014, permit and revenue activity already had eclipsed that for all of 2013, according to the St. Lucie County building and code regulation division.

TREASURE COAST — Convenience store chain Wawa plans to add a half-dozen stores in Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin counties.

Profile Astoria Compass

You probably don’t know Astoria Compass, but you’re likely to know the furniture maker’s work if you’ve stayed in Hiltons, Starwoods, Ritz-Carltons, Wyndhams, Marriotts or other three- to five-star players in the hospitality market.

The privately held Pompano Beach company, with about $5 million in annual revenue, is led by Jenny Vance, who became president in 2014, and CEO Bob Gross. With 51 employees, including 14 in south Florida, the company makes furniture and case goods for the hotel, restaurant and residential markets. The majority of its work is custom.

In 2014, the privately owned company opened a plant in Mexico to supply West Coast clientele with hotel lobby and metal furniture. It also manufactures in Florida, North Carolina, Asia and Europe. This year, the company is launching a restaurant furniture line.


> Broward Health, the tax-supported hospital and health care system, chose Dr. Nabil El Sanadi as CEO earning $675,000, replacing Frank Nask, who is retiring. El Sanadi, chief of emergency medicine for the system, chaired the Florida Board of Medicine.

> Tech firm Magic Leap, a Dania Beach company financially backed by Google and other prominent tech investors, hired Scott Henry, formerly CFO of Beats Music, Borders Group and Las Vegas Sands, as CFO. Science-fiction writer Neal Stephenson became Magic Leap’s “chief futurist.”

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