Rosalind Franklin University has kicked off a bioscience incubator by welcoming its first two residents, while also announcing the appointment of Rosalind Franklin as its president and CEO.

Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science officially launched a new bioscience incubator on Wednesday to increase the availability of quality lab space for local startups and lend an economic boost to the region.

The incubator, dubbed Helix 51, is part-funded by $2.5m in federal government tax credits. It already has two resident companies: Rosalind Franklin cancer and fibrotic disease therapy spinout BLRBio, and air contaminant detection startup Inspirotec.

Helix 51 is currently situated in the university’s basic sciences building, but will move to the new $50m Rosalind Franklin Innovation and Research Park (IRP) once it is completed.

IRP’s goal is to fuel Rosalind Franklin and collaborative research targeting chronic disease, with approximately one-third of its capacity earmarked for startups.

The aim is to entice businesses from around Lake County, as well as from other areas where lab space is sparse, such as southern Wisconsin and northern Cook County.

Rosalind Franklin also revealed the appointment of Wendy Rheault as its first female president and chief executive. Rheault has been with the university for 38 years, most recently serving as interim president and CEO since January 1.