Despite COVID-19, Biotech Companies Find Ways to Expand their Footprints


When COVID-19 hit, the disease forced companies to alter the way business was conducted and changed the way research could be conducted onsite from the implementation of social distancing rules.

While standard operating procedures may have faced an adjustment, the global pandemic has not altered the plans for some companies to expand their physical footprint in the United States and elsewhere.

For the past several years, the city of San Jose, Calif. has been luring small pharma and biotech companies and startups away from San Francisco with its attractive BioCube. The BioCube offers multiple amenities to companies and is now expanding. This week, the BioCube expanded to the second floor of its current headquarters. The new 68,521 square-foot space provides the thriving biotechnology incubator the capability to offer another seven life sciences startups lab space, along with the peak amenities and networking opportunities of a co-working environment.

BioCube will move its current incubator to the second floor and with the expansion, will now be able to provide custom-built lab space to mid-stage biotechnology companies throughout the first floor. BioCube’s Managing Director Tony Gonzalez said the facility uses a “funnel and flow” design approach to increase common amenity space by 5% to meet or exceed current industry trends. This new design will allow companies to meet social distancing needs as they conduct research. Gonzales said the space will be ideal for companies in a wide range of biotechnology research and development, including chemistry, therapeutics, medical devices, diagnostics, COVID-19 testing, healthcare, supplies, pharmaceuticals and oncology.

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Boston-based Packaging Technology Group, Inc. opened a new site in Fairdale, Kentucky. The facility, called PTG Kentucky, will serve as a springboard of continued growth for the company as it expands its TRUEtemp Naturals Cellulose product line, Chief Operating Officer Thomas Lawlor said. PTG designs, engineers, and manufactures sustainable, thermal shipping and packaging solutions for the biopharmaceutical and life sciences sector. The 42,000 square foot facility will primarily serve as the production backbone of sustainable thermal materials for PTG.

“Our company recently signed significant contracts with two of the top 20 Pharmaceutical Companies, cementing PTG’s position as a leader in the design and engineering of thermal packaging solutions that ensure critical life-saving medications maintain their efficacy when delivered to patients and pharmacies,” Lawlor said in a statement.

Japan-based FUJIFILM Corporation has made a significant investment in Denmark to expand its biotechnologies business. The company invested $928 million in the Denmark site of FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies, a contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) for biologics and advanced therapies. The capital investment will double the Denmark site’s current drug substance manufacturing capacity, and will expand its capabilities to include fill/finish, and enhance its current assembly, labeling and packaging services. In spring 2022, a new packaging line equipped with facilities to assemble multiple types of auto-injectors as well as automatic labeling will be added to meet a broad range of customer needs.

FUJIFILM gained the facility in 2019 from Biogen in an $890 million deal that included the facilities and the staff.

In Seattle, AGC Biologics acquired a state-of-the-art commercial manufacturing facility in Boulder, Colo. that was previously owned by AstraZeneca. The new facility will provide AGC Biologics with additional capacity and a significantly larger production scale. The Colorado facility is a large-scale biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility that houses two 20,000 liters (total volume) stainless steel mammalian cell bioreactors. It also has more than 20 acres with multiple opportunities for future expansions, including space for up to four more 20,000 liter bioreactors. The automated and cost-effective facility is very well suited for high volume commercial production and high titer antibody processes, the company said. The facility is expected to begin full-scale operations and manufacturing by April 2021.

In addition to the Colorado site, AGC is also completing facilities expansions at its Seattle, Copenhagen and Chiba facilities in 2020 and early 2021.

San Diego-based DTx Pharma, Inc. moved into a new 14,000 square foot lab and office space in the Sorrento Valley biotech cluster of San Diego. The new facility is expected to allow the company to internalize its chemistry efforts, broaden the application of its fatty acid conjugate technology, and expand its team and infrastructure to support the future growth of the company. 

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