Month: May 2019

Rochester’s Geneticure Sees Growth and Opportunity

Scott Snyder
Eric Snyder

Founded by Rochester brothers Scott and Eric Snyder in 2014, Geneticure is a precision medicine startup aimed at reducing trial and error for treatment of hypertension patients.

Geneticure’s technology examines specific segments of patient DNA taken from a mouth swab to determine which medications will be most effective for that patient.

“Geneticure’s premise is built on the fact that we think large diseases and dangerous diseases can be better treated by using genetics to guide medicine and therapy,” said Geneticure CEO Scott Snyder. “There are clues in your DNA that will predict how you will respond to certain medications and therapies.”

Since the launch of the business over four years ago, Geneticure has now grown to a team of twelve, split between scientific and business development leads. While their focus remains on hypertension, the startup has additional products for different diseases in their development pipeline. Snyder said the business has been intentionally quiet for the past few years while validating their original hypertension product through clinical trial work. Now, Geneticure is gearing up to commercialize their solution to reduce trial and error for treatment of hypertension patients.

“We spent four years building evidence and so we are proud of what we’ve built. Now we want to tell people about it,” explained Snyder.

As companies like Geneticure launch and grow in Rochester, there are more opportunities to access local capital. Geneticure has secured investment support from the Rochester Area Economic Development Inc. economic development fund and from the Southeast Minnesota Angel Fund.

While Geneticure’s team is spread all over the country, they have a large presence in both the Twin Cities and Rochester. The business began their journey in Rochester at the Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator. After graduating from that space, they moved to a new location in “The Vault” above Grand Rounds Brew Pub in Destination Medical Center’s Discovery Square subdistrict.

Snyder said Rochester has a lot of benefits of a bigger city but is easy to navigate.  And most exciting for Snyder and Geneticure is the growing entrepreneurship and “diversity of thought and people.”

One Discovery Square Aims to Foster Innovation

Finance & Commerce – by William Morris

Even in a digital era, Rochester and Mayo Clinic leaders think the best way to foster innovation, collaboration and new discoveries is to put people next to each other, face-to-face.

That’s the vision behind Golden Valley-based Mortenson’s One Discovery Square, a 90,000-square-foot biomedical sciences building in downtown Rochester that next month will welcome its first tenant, medical software company Epic. The $35 million project is one of the early cornerstones of the Destination Medical Center redevelopment initiative, which seeks to attract $5.5 billion in new development around Mayo Clinic over 20 years.

During a preview tour of the building Wednesday, officials touted a design aimed to boost collaboration, from an open lobby area that can double as a lecture theater to conversation niches and “living room” areas, some with whiteboards and other tools, scattered around the four-story building. Collaboration also was at the core of how officials marketed the building, Destination Medical Center executive director Lisa Clarke said.

“We will be bringing companies to this community that have never seen Rochester before,” she said.

Collaboration was also a goal in how the building will bring together those tenants, including three different Mayo Clinic departments, said Chris Schad, director of business development for the Discovery Square subdistrict of the Destination Medical Center.

“Right from the beginning, it was a fairly easy decision to say those three groups are going to be on different floors. They’re not going to be all bunched up in one space behind closed walls,” Schad said.

Instead the three teams – advanced diagnostics, biomedical imaging and regenerative medicine – will have space on floors two, three and four to be closer to partner companies that will occupy space immediately next to the researchers and scientists.

The space can also be reconfigured as needs change. Jay Hesley, chief of staff at the University of Minnesota Rochester, said the university’s space on floors one and three will meet short- and long-term needs.

“We absolutely needed a solution to lab space this year in order to continue to grow at the pace we were projecting. This space coming online in the fall is perfectly timed,” he said, noting that some space currently planned for classrooms has the needed equipment to become additional lab space in future years. “This is actually space that we think of in terms of decades providing services and solutions.”

The Destination Medical Center master plan calls for 2 million square feet of additional research and lab space over 20 years, and the organization lists Mortenson’s building as “Phase One.” Jeremy Jacobs, the company’s director of real estate development, said Mortenson is very interested in continuing work in the Discovery Square area. “We think there continues to be robust demand in the market,” he said. “The type of space the market is looking for is changing, so it’s office, it’s lab, it’s tech-based space, and we wouldn’t be doing our jobs as developers if we weren’t thinking about how to meet the needs of the market…In the not-too-distant future, I think that we would certainly hope to have another building that we could talk about.”

Heart of the City Design Receives DMCC Board Nod

Universal Design a Key Element

The Destination Medical Center Corporation (DMCC) Board has approved design for DMC’s Heart of the City and public realm development, which includes the east side of Peace Plaza, First Avenue and adjacent alleys in downtown Rochester.

The Heart of the City design addresses seven key goals, including: safety, accessibility and universal design, public space, flexibility, sustainability, art integration and infrastructure.

The DMCC Board also authorized development of construction documents, with the expectation of construction commencing in the spring of 2020.

“This critical work in Heart of the City and Rochester’s downtown core is setting a new standard for public space design and engagement,” said Lisa Clarke, executive director, DMC Economic Development Agency. “Residents, visitors and patients will experience a welcoming, safe, accessible and much greener Peace Plaza and surrounding area.”

DMC has been prototyping various design elements in Heart of the City including, most recently, Universal Design in Peace Plaza with some benches that will be tested, modified and re-tested in new locations throughout the summer.

Universal Design is defined as: “The design of products and environments to be useful by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.”

For Heart of the City, it means that everything being created and built for each of the spaces (First Avenue, Peace Plaza and alleys) is designed to be accessible to everyone who uses them, as well as accommodate a wide range of individual preferences, experiences, languages and capabilities.

MOKA, soon to provide a new coffee experience in Peace Plaza, is incorporating elements of Universal Design into its retail space. MOKA Project Manager Julie Hatlem highlights what guests can expect: “Coming directly off the Plaza we have a no-step building entry that everyone can use easily and together. Inside the cafe, we have kept our walkway open and spacious to accommodate greater accessibility. The order counter and serving counter are both at a lower height to make it easy for everyone to order and pick up their drinks. When designing our custom tables and seating, we took into consideration several elements of Universal Design: Body fit, comfort, wellness, and social integration. Seating will be built to accommodate a wide range of body sizes and abilities. Tables will have ample space for wheelchairs to easily access and join a conversation.”

Peace Plaza will be the third location in Rochester for MOKA.

“Coffee is a universal language that brings people together and to us, it is a natural fit for MOKA to be at the heart of all of the city. We look forward to opening our doors on Peace Plaza this summer,” said Hatlem.


Destination Medical Center Corporation Board Applauds DMC Development and Approves New Phase of Heart of the City Public Design

(Rochester, MN) May 23, 2019 – The Destination Medical Center Corporation (DMCC) Board has approved design for DMC’s Heart of the City and public realm development, which includes the east side of Peace Plaza, First Avenue and adjacent alleys in downtown Rochester.

The Heart of the City design addresses seven key goals, including: safety, accessibility and universal design, public space, flexibility, sustainability, art integration and infrastructure.

The DMCC Board also authorized development of construction documents, with the expectation of construction commencing in the spring of 2020.

DMC and the City of Rochester have contracted with Minneapolis-based Coen + Partners for the design work which will help catalyze private investment and development in the DMC district.

“This critical work in Heart of the City and Rochester’s downtown core is setting a new standard for public space design and engagement,” said Lisa Clarke, Executive Director, DMC Economic Development Agency. “Residents, visitors and patients will experience a welcoming, safe, accessible and much greener Peace Plaza and surrounding area.”

Heart of the City is just one of many milestones in the DMC district. There are 10 project openings expected by years-end and more projects in the pipeline for 2020.  These milestones were applauded by the DMCC Board.

The DMCC Board also acknowledged the collaboration among the DMC EDA, Olmsted County, City of Rochester and the Rochester Area Foundation for their work in addressing affordable and workforce housing in Rochester.  

“We really want to be a partner and look at affordable housing as a continuum.  It takes a village to build a village,” said R.T. Rybak, DMCC Board Chair.

There will be continued discussion on affordable housing at the September 26 DMCC Board meeting.

Coworking Spaces Growing in Rochester

Collider Coworking

Coworking – a method through which an individual or group can rent a desk in an open workspace environment- is a trend on the rise. However, coworking can offer more than just an office space. Coworking can provide a platform for community supported innovation and can foster and support entrepreneurship, vital components for the future of Destination Medical Center (DMC) Discovery Square as a top attraction for medical innovation.

Coworking businesses typically offer desk rental agreements that are flexible, offering daily, weekly, and monthly rates. The coworking model can be a good fit for entrepreneurs, small teams, freelancers, and remote workers for larger corporations.

However, coworking can provide more than just a place outside of the home office to perform business. It can offer community to remote workers, facilitating collaboration and innovation that might otherwise not occur in the typical work environment. This consolidation of people and ideas also permits a faster flow of resources to entrepreneurs.

“We are seeing that in large markets,” explained Bucky Beeman, co-owner of Offices at China Hall. “Google is taking space. Amazon is taking space. Other corporations are taking space within a coworking atmosphere.”

“I always say that people come for the desk but stay for the community,” said Jamie Sundsbak, Community Manager of Collider Coworking.

Sundsbak, who manages both Collider Prime in the Conley Maass Downs Building and Collider 424 on the Mayo Clinic campus, says the members are one of the most unique aspects of his coworking spaces.

Open space coworking may not be a viable option for those who require more privacy or have specific workspace needs. Also, as startups in coworking spaces grow, they find themselves with a new level of space needs – shared space but with private offices.

China Hall

To meet this changing demand, several of the coworking spaces in Rochester now offer private offices. This includes individual offices at Collider 424 and Offices at China Hall. The Vault, managed by Tessa Leung, has twelve private offices. The Mayo Clinic Business Accelerator managed by Xavier Frigola, has both open coworking space and nine private offices.

Beyond an actual physical presence, coworking within DMC can organically serve as sites to accelerate innovation for both their members and for the entire community.

“If you have an idea for an event, if you have an idea on how you can activate the coworking space, or if you want to do a meetup of some sort, I think that the coworking space itself is a good place to start those conversations because it could lead to unlocking an opportunity to your idea becoming a reality,” said Beeman.

DMC’s Real Estate Summit Highlights Transit Oriented Development

With the workforce in the Destination Medical Center (DMC) district projected to nearly double by 2040, how best to efficiently move those thousands of new employees in and out of downtown Rochester is a top priority for DMC planners and city officials.

The DMC Economic Development Agency foresees district workforce levels zooming from 35,250 to 62,400 over the next 21 years. And while that may seem like a rather long timeframe, the reality is different. Accomplishing the kind of large-scale transportation build-out needed to cope with such an impressive jump is complex and takes years to plan, finance and execute.

That’s why DMC and City of Rochester planners have been working hard on developing an innovative transportation strategy over the last several years, one that seeks to leverage public transit improvements to spur follow-on private commercial investment – a phenomenon also known as transit-oriented development, or “TOD.”

They shared the plan’s details at the recent DMC Real Estate Development and Investment Summit, an event staged by the Minnesota Real Estate Journal and aimed at commercial real estate professionals from Rochester, the Twin Cities and elsewhere who are intrigued by the business opportunities being created by the DMC effort.

It was perhaps fitting that the Summit was among the first public events held at the newly-opened Hilton Downtown Rochester, itself one of the first concrete examples of the DMC initiative.

A hot topic for the real estate professionals in attendance was likely the discussion of the DMC/Rochester transportation plan and TOD. One big reason for that is the spectacular success of Metro Transit, the Twin Cities’ transit agency, in spurring hundreds of millions of dollars of TOD along its new light rail transit (LRT) and bus rapid transit (BRT) lines.

Summit presenters Lucy Ferguson Galbraith and Michael Greif of Metro Transit shared some of those numbers. A new study they performed found, for instance, that transit upgrades carried out between 2003 and 2017 spurred the development of more than 15,500 multifamily units during that time frame, with 15,000 more units currently planned or under construction.

In addition to multifamily, they found that $3.7 billion of commercial development and $850 million of public and institutional development were sparked along the LRT/BRT routes during the 14-year span. All told, while TOD comprised fully 33 percent of all commercial development in the Twin Cities region, it was squeezed onto just 1.7 percent of its land mass — demonstrating the power of modern transit to attract investment.

So how exactly is Rochester and the DMC planning to tap the TOD phenomenon? That question was addressed by Deputy Rochester City Administrator Aaron Parrish, who described how – pending federal funding — BRT is to play a crucial role in providing a reliable, frequent and comfortable connection between downtown employers and a pair of remote “Transit Villages” – one to be built at Mayo’s West Lot near Cascade Lake and the other at Graham Park in the southeast of the city.

Parrish related how these Transit Villages are meant to be far more than mere park-and-ride lots. The plan is for them to host true TOD development, including up to 800 multifamily housing units and 58,000 square feet of commercial/retail at the Mayo West site, while the Graham Park site would be part of a larger master plan with diverse development options.

Meanwhile, the city is modifying its zoning regulations along the possible BRT routes on 2nd Street S.W. and Broadway/3rd Ave. S.W. to allow for new types of mixed-use TOD projects encouraging more transit usage.

DMC Introduces New Art + Design in Public Space Series

Destination Medical Center Economic Development Agency (DMC EDA), the City of Rochester and the Heart of the City design team are launching an Art + Design in Public Space Series.

The Art + Design in Public Space Series will be held monthly from May to October 2019, with a presentation and conversation on the roles art and design play in creating vibrant public spaces. Topics ranging from how art and design can reflect local context and values to how to create interaction and spectacle in public space.

The public is invited to the first event on Thursday, May 16, 2019, from 12:00 – 1:30 p.m. at Castle Community to hear about universal design from Katherine Darnstadt, founder of Latent Design, who will share how people of all abilities need to feel a sense of belonging in a place and how design does that. The design and placement of seating, the space given for mobility, and the clarity of functions within cities all work together at different scales to make public spaces welcoming to all.

“It’s important that all people feel welcome and included in our public spaces,” said Patrick Seeb, DMC EDA director of economic development and placemaking. “Universal design is key to ensuring accessibility for everyone.”

This event is free and open to everyone. Registration is required. Seating is limited. More information about the Heart of the City design process can be found here.