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Bay Area CRO LakePharma Likely to Build in Worcester, Mass., Create 350 Jobs

10/31/2016 6:42:33 AM

Bay Area CRO LakePharma Likely to Build in Worcester, Mass., Create 350 Jobs October 31, 2016
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

The Worcester Business Development Corporation (WBDC), located in Worcester, Mass., has been working with Belmont, Calif.-based LakePharma to build a 50,000-square-foot research and manufacturing facility in Worcester.

The WBDC submitted one bid to the state of Massachusetts in August to develop land that was formerly part of a state hospital complex. The other bidder was the Massachusetts Development Finance Agency.

WBDC has a deal with LakePharma that lasts six months to find an expansion site in the Worcester area. “There are probably two or three sites that they would want to evaluate,” Craig Blais, WBDC’s president and chief executive officer, told the Telegram. “I don’t have those yet. My guess is they would want to keep their options open.”

The 44-acre parcel of land is adjacent to an already existing five-building science research park that is the property of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. In September, the state’s Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance, named the WBDC as “master developer” of the land.

To date, WBDC has offered approximately $1 million for the property. The state estimates that improvements to roads, utilities and storm water systems at that location would cost about $16 million, and demolishing current structure and preparing the land would add on additional costs.

In its bid, the WBDC wrote, “This location of LakePharma will bolster the establishment of the new biomanufacturing zone in Worcester and will allow for LakePharma to remain as an important player in the continued expansion of the biotechnology industry in the Worcester area.”
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LakePharma is a contract research organization (CRO) that specializes in antibody and protein engineering, cell line development, and protein production. It recently was nominated into “The Fast 100: the fastest growing private companies in the Bay Area,” which was published by the San Francisco Business Times.

LakePharma also has facilities already near the Boston/Cambridge biotech hub.

WBDC hopes to acquire state and federal grants to help with the costs of developing the site. The Telegraph also indicates the developers may work with Worcester on loans and tax deals, called “district improvement financing.”

In meetings with the state government, LakePharma executives have indicated the company plans to hire about 150 people at the new facility over three to five years.

“The good news is,” said Timothy Murray, president and chief executive of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, to The Telegraph, “I think, people see the jobs that have been created with the biotech part. This would be a continuation of that, so I think people are anxious to do their part.”

Earlier this year, in March, LakePharma acquired Blue Sky BioServices, a biotech contract research company located in Gateway Park. Blue Sky provides “gene-through-screen services to the global biotech, pharma, and academic research and development market.” That acquisition made LakePharma the largest dedicated biologics CRO in the U.S.

Gateway Park is on the campus of Worcester Polytechnic Institute and is an attempt to “Making Lincoln Square the next Kendall Square.” Kendall Square, in Cambridge, Mass., is the heart of biotech startups in the area.

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