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US Cancer Center, Software Firm Strike Deals in Cuba

  • Reuters

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks with his delegation and Cuban officials as they visit a port's container terminal in the Bay of Mariel, Cuba, April 21, 2015.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks with his delegation and Cuban officials as they visit a port's container terminal in the Bay of Mariel, Cuba, April 21, 2015.

A U.S. cancer research center and a software company reached agreements with Cuban partners during a two-day trade mission to Cuba led by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in the first trip of its kind since the rapprochement between the longtime adversaries.

The Roswell Park Cancer Center of Buffalo, New York, on Tuesday signed an agreement with Cuba's Center for Molecular Immunology to develop a lung cancer vaccine with a clinical trial in the United States, Roswell Chief Executive Officer Candace Johnson said.

In addition, New York City-based software company Infor Global Solutions has identified a Cuban partner and reached an agreement to resell software in Cuba, CEO Charles Phillips said.

Both announcements were made at the airport just before Cuomo and a delegation of 18 business leaders and academics boarded their return flight to New York.

Cuomo, a Democrat, is the first governor to visit Cuba since a December announcement by President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro that they would restore diplomatic relations and work to normalize trade and travel ties after more than a half century of hostility and confrontation.

Obama has used executive authority to relax some parts of the U.S. economic embargo against Cuba but would need the Republican-controlled Congress to lift it entirely and establish normal trade.

Among those on the trip were executives from JetBlue Airways, Pfizer and MasterCard.

Cuomo had said the mission was meant to help New York companies be "first out of the gate'' to make business deals under warming U.S.-Cuban relations.

Roswell was able to finalize the agreement for a clinical trial as a result of the trade mission, Johnson said.

"This agreement establishes a collaboration between our two institutions to develop a cancer vaccine in lung cancer,'' she said of the vaccine developed by scientists at the Cuban center. "We're very excited to take this to the United States to treat patients.''

Phillips did not disclose the name of his new Cuban partners but said a deal was reached over a dinner of rice and beans Monday night.

"We were surprised and impressed with the level of technology and expertise they have in health care technology,'' he said.

The agreement also will help Infor expand into Latin American markets where its Cuban partner already has a presence, Phillips said, and provide software and training to a university in Cuba.

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