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ST. PAUL-University Enterprise Laboratories has landed $1 million from 3M for its $19-million biotechnology incubator it wants to build in the city near Highway 280 and Energy Park Drive.

University Enterprise Laboratories, a partnership of the University of Minnesota and the City of St. Paul, is renovating a vacant warehouse near Minnesota 280 into a hub for upstart biotechnology firms. Backers are seeking to raise $10 million for the $19 million project. The 3M money comes on top of a $2 million gift for the project from Xcel Energy. Two more gifts are expected to be announced next month.

3M likes the project because it “creates an environment conducive to discovery and development for start-up biotech companies,” says David Powell, president of the 3M Foundation. This summer, the City of St. Paul agreed to buy a 132,000-sf building in St. Paul’s Westgate office-industrial park and the surrounding 11-acre lot for $6.75 million. The deal called for the city to pay $1 million down on the warehouse to owner RT Center LLC, a Delaware-based company, who will in turn lend the city the remaining $5.75 million at 6% annual interest. The plan calls for the city to sell the property this fall to University Enterprise Laboratories, a nonprofit organization created by the university to develop the proposed biotech complex.

The facility is situated on University Avenue and Highway 280 between the St. Paul and Minneapolis campuses of the University of Minnesota, the anticipated source for many of the biotech innovations that would populate the incubator.

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