10 Biotech Firms Rapidly Expanding in North Carolina

10 Biotech Firms Rapidly Expanding in North Carolina
July 21, 2015
By Renee Morad, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

North Carolina’s biotech industry is quickly expanding.

Within the state, there are more than 600 life science companies employing 61,000 people at an average salary exceeding $81,000 a year – which is nearly twice the state’s overall private sector wage, according to the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.

In total, life science companies and institutions in North Carolina generate $73 billion in economic activity, which is an increase of 23 percent in two years, and account for 228,259 direct and indirect jobs, says North Carolina Biotechnology Center.

Furthermore, while employment in the nation’s life science industry rose by 7.4 percent from 2001 to 2012, North Carolina’s grew at a surprising 31 percent, even with setbacks from the Great Recession of 2008.

Following closely behind California, North Carolina outpaced life science industry growth in other states, including Texas, New York, Massachusetts and Florida, between 2009-2012, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the chart below, North Carolina's life science industry grew 5.2% from 2009 to 2012. While California's life sciences industry increased even more at 5.5% during the same time period, other states such as Pennsylvania and New Jersey actually saw their life sciences sectors shrink by 7% and 7.3%, respectively.

10 Biotech Firms Rapidly Expanding in North Carolina

“There’s always ebb and flow in pharma, as companies merge, acquire and adjust strategies, but North Carolina remains well suited to capitalize on those dynamics,” says Doug Edgeton, president and CEO of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.

Edgeton says North Carolina consistently ranks among the top three life science states because of its prolific university research base and its broad life science infrastructure, including its highly trained workforce.

“It’s a smart state, a business-friendly low-cost state, with a wide and deep life science infrastructure,” Edgeton says.

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center points to specific biotech and life science companies that are making strides when it comes to expanding their employment bases. Below are 10 companies currently expanding, listed in alphabetical order.

1. Argos Therapeutics, Inc.
Argos Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of fully personalized immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer and infectious disease, is building a $57 million, 100,00-square-foot state-of-the-art biomanufacturing facility in the Research Triangle Park.

Argos plans to add about 230 positions along with the facility’s construction and will receive $9.5 million in incentives as well as logistical and planning support from the State of North Carolina, Durham County, the City of Durham and the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.

2. BioAgilytix Labs
This company is a fast-growing Durham-based bioanalytical lab specializing in large-molecule bioanalysis, offering PK, immunogenicity, biomarkers and cell-based assays in support of the development and release testing of biologics and small-molecule therapeutics. The company plans to add several hundred employees in the next year or so. This June, the company welcomed eight new hires to its growing staff.

3. bioMerieux
The French microbiology company has hired more than 100 new workers in the past few months and continues to hire more, expecting to bump its total head count at its Durham facility to more than 750.

The site continues to expand its global shipments of in vitro products to diagnose infectious diseases, cancer and cardiovascular disease and to detect micro-organisms in agri-foods, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.

4. Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies
This contract developer and manufacturer of recombinant biopharmaceuticals including proteins, vaccines and monoclonal antibodiesbroke is rapidly expanding. In 2015, the company invested in a 62,000-square-foot facility in Morrisville to house its bioprocess R&D groups.

Currently, the company’s facilities in North Carolina, Texas and England employ about 1,000 people.

5. Hospira, Inc.
Hospira, known as the largest provider of injectable drugs and infusion technologies, is adding 200 jobs at its production facility in Rocky Mount, N.C., where it currently employs about 2,400 people.

The company is completing a three-year, $85 million expansion and upgrade of the Rocky Mount facility. The company expects its investment in the site could grow to $270 million within the next decade.

6. Merz North America
The German pharmaceutical company Merz is building its North American headquarters in Raleigh. The move will add 250 jobs to the Capital City.

The Merz North America headquarters will be situated in a 60,000-square-foot rented campus.

Merz selected Raleigh for its headquarters in large part because of the area’s educational institutions and talented workforce, according to Bill Humphries, president and CEO of Merz North America.

7. Metrics Contract Services
Mayne Pharma, a publicly traded Australian company (ASX: MYX), purchased contract pharmaceutical development and manufacturing organization Metrics Inc. in Greenville, N.C., in 2012 and has since grown its U.S. workforce to 345 employees—with hiring not expected to slow.

Metrics’ areas of expertise include quality formulation development, first-time-in-man formulations, Phase I-III clinical trial materials manufacturing and analytical development and validation services leading to commercial scale manufacturing.

8. Novella Clinical
Novella Clinical of Morrisville has added 90 workers since it was acquired by Quintiles, Inc. in late 2013 and, operating as “a Quintiles company,” continues to hire more.

Quintiles is the world’s largest CRO, and one of the founders of the contract research industry, of which North Carolina remains the world’s leader.

9. Patheon Inc.
Durham, North Carolina-based Patheon plans to add 488 jobs to its sterile-fill facility in Greenville by 2019. These efforts are part of the company's $159 million expansion.

Patheon, a provider of commercial manufacturing outsourcing services and outsourced pharmaceutical development services, currently operates in 12 commercial-scale production facilities around the world, employing roughly 8,000 people.

10. Sequenom Inc.
The Sequenom Center for Molecular Medicine, a $19 million Morrisville laboratory opened in 2012, is taking over operations of a sister lab that the San Diego-based company is closing in Grand Rapids, Michigan. That’s bringing employment to the Morrisville lab facility.

Committed to enabling healthier lives through innovative product development, Sequenom provides early patient management information to physicians and patients. The company has developed a range of laboratory tests, with a focus on prenatal care.

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center cited these companies as bright spots for expansion. Additional companies that are hiring in North Carolina include Biogen, Inc., Medicago, Inc., Novozymes A/S , Heat Biologics, KBI Biopharma, Takeda Pharmaceuticals , Ocera Therapeutics, Inc. (formerly Tranzyme) and BioResource International.

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