MIND international spirit: from Berkeley SkyDeck to Illumina they gather in Milan

At MIND – Milano Innovation District, innovation rhymes with international. MIND is a unique place: located in Italy in Milan, a gateway to Europe, it is not just a physical space, but above all a context where research, networks, and infrastructure, for those working in life sciences, connect. Pharma and biotech companies coexist alongside innovative startups and talents, from around the world, can find a place here to nurture ideas and encounter opportunities. Here are some examples: the startup accelerator Berkeley Skydeck connects Italy with Silicon Valley; Illumina, a state-of-the-art genomic sequencing company, has established its sole Southern European headquarters in Milan; and CPP Investments, dealing with investment funds, contributes, along with Lendlease, to the development of Phase 1 of the West Gate of MIND.

MIND and Human Technopole for Biotech and Life sciences

Italy ranks third in Europe for the number of patents issued, with Milan registering 28% of Italian patents annually and over 3,000 companies with a turnover of 175 billion. These are just a few reasons why MIND was born in Milan. In fact, the district dedicated to science, research, and innovation is able to look to the future alongside many national and international players, including Human Technopole. Since 2019, Human Technopole has been the new cutting-edge Italian research center and large-scale research infrastructure in the life sciences. Inside, over 270 researchers work in 30,000 square meters of interdisciplinary laboratories and 5 research areas: genomics, computational biology, neurogenomics, structural biology, health data science.

In the last 3 years, MIND has become a unique platform that attracts public and private capital to long-term research programs, with spin-off effects on rents and development. Major projects include experimentation with digital technologies applied to healthcare settings; research and innovation in not only life sciences and advanced technologies but also urban regeneration, sustainable finance, and fashion; and finally, the National Center for the development of gene therapies and the development of selective drugs using RNA technology.

Berkeley SkyDeck, the startup accelerator at Mind

The partnership between Lendlease, Berkeley SkyDeck, a startup acceleration program, and Cariplo Factory has created a unique connection between Italy and Silicon Valley, a central hub globally for the innovation world. At MIND, a physical reference point has been found, identified as Berkeley Skydeck EU headquarters.

SkyDeck is an excellence for the growth of innovative businesses: it boasts over 250 advisors from the University of California Berkeley, executives from companies, entrepreneurs, and investors. SkyDeck’s acceleration program is a reference point in Silicon Valley and receives over 3,000 applications from around the world each year, accepting 40 for each period. To date, Skydeck has supported the development of over 1,000 startups that have raised over 1.5 billion dollars.

As for Italy, in response to the first call published in January 2022, 571 applications were received from around the world, but only 9 startups were selected. The Lombardy Region and Fondazione Cariplo made 3 million euros available as initial funding, and LendLease invested 1 million in the first group of startups.

In Italy, the Southern European headquarters of Illumina and NGS devices

Illumina has also chosen to establish its first and currently only Italian and Southern European headquarters within MIND, making it an innovative hub for healthcare in the EU. Illumina is a leading company in next-generation genomic sequencing (NGS) devices and is a global leader in the development of life sciences tools and integrated systems for large-scale sequencing activities. Today, it is a consolidated reality in Italy with a network of hospital and university institutions where it supports and participates in genomic sequencing studies for early diagnosis of tumors and rare diseases. For this reason, MIND fits into Illumina’s innovative vision, where it intends to contribute accelerating diagnostic research of diseases and new therapies development.

Illumina’s new solutions center at Mind, dedicated to genome research and applications of genomic sequencing, will be a driving force for healthcare innovation throughout Europe, not just in Italy. The new center will strengthen the network of those already present in the EMEA area, and thanks to the partnership with Human Technopole, Illumina will support researchers and healthcare professionals in the development of precision medicine, the application of genomics, and overall microbiota research.

A fund for the development of Mind’s West gate thanks to Lendlease and CPP Investments

Milan’s attractiveness, thanks to its geographical location, services, and connections, has led to another virtuous example. Indeed, a joint venture has been created between Lendlease and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments), allowing the establishment of a dedicated Italian alternative real estate investment fund for the development of Phase 1 of the West Gate area of MIND, which will be completed in 2025. The Fund will specifically develop the mixed-use area of the West Gate of MIND to transform it into a recognizable destination for researchers, workers, residents, and other visitors at the west entrance of the district. The joint venture, based on a consolidated relationship with projects in Barangaroo in Sydney (Australia) and Elephant Park in London (United Kingdom), sees the management of the Fund by Lendlease Italy SGR SpA, while Lendlease Services Srl will take on the role of developer and project manager.