Aldevron to Build 14-Acre Gene Therapy Manufacturing Campus, Add Hundreds of Jobs
Aldevron, headquartered in Fargo, ND, announced it is building a 14-acre gene therapy manufacturing campus at its headquarters. Phase one of the construction project will start in August. Once completed, its annual capacity will be more than $1 billion of plasmid DNA, RNA, gene editing enzymes and other biologics.
The expansion will increase biotech production capacity 10-fold, grow its warehouse space by more than four times, and develop a research and development center. Less than a year ago, the company opened the 70,000-square-foot headquarters, which ran $30 million.
The new construction will include three new buildings totaling 189,000 square feet. The first building will connect to the existing headquarters and is expected to be fully operational by the first quarter of 2021.
Once completed, the campus will host more than 1,000 employees. All buildings should be completed in the next three to five years. The company currently employs 301 people in Fargo, 31 in Madison, Wisconsin and 21 in Freiburg, Germany.
“This plan is designed to serve the biopharmaceutical industry with the world’s most advanced manufacturing platforms for gene and cell therapy,” stated Michael Chambers, chief executive officer of Aldevron. “It is an honor for us to provide plasmids, gene editing enzymes, and other biologics to support clinical and commercial applications that our clients are pioneering.”
The plans include adding 20,000 square-feet of Quality Control and product storage space to its current 70,000 square-feet of GMP and GMP-Source manufacturing, which is the world’s largest plasmid DNA manufacturing facility. That factory opened in September 2018.
Next, the construction will put up an 89,000 square-foot, two-story administration and client visit center. The final construction project will be a 96,000 square-foot R&D, technical operations and training center. All told, total square footage will be almost half-a-million square feet.
Chambers told the West Fargo Pioneer, “The gene therapy field is moving fast and this requires continuous innovation. The new campus and increased capabilities will give us the ability to innovate faster. Not only that, we will be better able to inspire, recruit and retain talent since we will need hundreds of people in the coming years.”
The Aldevron campus is not far from a Microsoft facility in Fargo. Aldevron was founded in 1998 by Chambers and John Ballantyne. At that time, they were completing their degrees at North Dakota State University, Chambers with degrees in microbiology, biotechnology and chemistry, Ballantyne finishing graduate work in pharmaceutical sciences.
The company started in a laboratory in the university’s Van Es Hall that was slightly larger than a janitorial closet and office space in the entomology department. Their first order was to prepare a type of DNA for the University of Puerto Rico for $1,080. The DNA was used for an experimental DNA vaccine for HIV. It took several weeks to manufacture the order.
“We make that probably in five or 10 minutes now,” Chambers told Inforum in 2018.
Since then the company has become the world’s largest manufacturing of plasmid DNA, which is used in research and clinical labs working on gene and cell therapies, gene editing, and other areas of biopharma.
Although the company doesn’t divulge its clients, in the 2018 Inforum article, Robert Reames, Aldevron’s director of technical operations, said, “Every single gene therapy you’ve seen on CNN or in the news—the DNA was made by Aldevron.”