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A Site Selection Web Exclusive, September 2012
WEB Exclusive story

emember Alltech, the central Kentucky-based company whose pursuits in animal nutrition, algae R&D and more we profiled last fall in “To Life!”? This week marked the official time to raise a toast, as the company cut the ribbon on its $9.2-million Town Branch Distillery (pictured) in downtown Lexington. It’s the first new distillery in the city in more than 100 years, located where the Town Branch stream once flowed through town and lured several distillers. Alltech’s brewery operates next door, making the site one of the few in the world, Alltech says, to host both a brewery and distillery.

Healthpoint Biotherapeutics in June announced it’s planning a significant upgrade to its 80,000-sq.-ft. (7,432-sq.-m.) research and manufacturing facility in Fort Worth, Texas, that will add 25,000 sq. ft. (2,323 sq. m.) of manufacturing infrastructure, labs and clean room space for the production of cell-based therapies. “The planned, ultra-modern facility will create an efficient platform to support our lead pipeline candidate, HP802-247, which recently completed a successful phase 2b study in venous leg ulcers,” said Travis E. Baugh (pictured), president and COO of Healthpoint Biotherapeutics. “Importantly, the facility will also add critical capabilities as we look toward the promise of regenerative medicine.” The company plans to invest approximately $60 million to build out and staff the expansion, adding 51 employees over the next few years, 31 of them by the end of this year.

“The establishment of this contemporary cell biology facility represents a significant advance for the Fort Worth life sciences footprint," said David Berzina, executive vice president of economic development with the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. Full validation and commissioning of the facility to release product for clinical trials is expected in 2013. Healthpoint Biotherapeutics already operates advanced, biologic manufacturing facilities worldwide, including its facility in Lausanne, Switzerland, and a biologic manufacturing plant in Curacao.

Québec City-based vaccine firm Medicago announced earlier this week a $12-million agreement granting Philip Morris International an exclusive license to develop, commercialize and manufacture Medicago's pandemic and seasonal influenza vaccines for China. In addition, Medicago has signed an exclusive, worldwide license for a portfolio of plant-based protein development technologies from PMP. Site Selection documented the firm’s scientific connection to tobacco in this August 2010 story. The biotech/tobacco combination continues to pop up, most recently in Winston-Salem.

Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania’s new Industry Cluster Analysis Resource demonstrates how the five-county southeastern Pennsylvania region (Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia) and the greater Philadelphia metro area are performing across various industry and occupation clusters. The tool shows that from 2007 to 2010 the number of life sciences companies in southeastern Pennsylvania grew from 4,751 to 5,019. “In 2010,” says BFTP, “the proportion of companies in life sciences was well above the national average, exceeding the traditionally innovative areas of greater Boston, greater New York City and greater Chicago.”

Ah, but there’s no denying the leadership of Massachusetts as a whole. New analysis from MassBIO says the state “outpaces any other state in biotechnology research job growth from 2007-2011. Biotech R&D accounted for 28,000 jobs in 2011, says the organization. Moreover, venture investment in Massachusetts biotech firms reached an all-time high in 2011 at $1.071 billion. More than $8 billion has been invested in biotech in the Commonwealth since 2002.

Then again, Beantown can’t get them all. In Metro Atlanta early this month, Galectin Therapeutics and the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce celebrated the firm’s corporate headquarters relocation from Boston to Gwinnett County, based primarily on “advantageous proximity to the University of Georgia’s Complex Carbohydrate Research Center, one of the world’s premier centers for carbohydrate research, and the robust research and clinical assets throughout metro Atlanta.” The Norcross facility will now house Galectin Therapeutics’ executive, strategic and development functions, while its Boston location will continue selected lab-based product development. “This reorganization is an important move for the Company that will strengthen our ability to deliver on the promise of our carbohydrate-based therapeutic agents and afford us greater opportunities to attract highly-skilled talent in the field of carbohydrates to our Company,” said Peter G. Traber, MD, President, CEO and chief medical officer, Galectin Therapeutics.

This engaging report from The New York Times documents the latest phase of Eli Lilly’s 136-year-old relationship with its hometown of Indianapolis.

GE Healthcare, based in southeastern Wisconsin, in early September signed a 10-year partnership agreement with the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health and the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF), one week after the company had announced a $3-million partnership with UW-Milwaukee to create a center for medical imaging software development. The Madison agreement calls for a $32.9-million GE investment in a new imaging research facility. According to WARF, during the past 11 years collaborations between GE and UW researchers have resulted in nearly 200 invention disclosures, more than 80 filed U.S. patents and numerous licensing agreements and technology improvements. According to the company, one in every 132 jobs in the entire state of Wisconsin is due to GE Healthcare, which directly employs 6,500 in the state.

BioFire Diagnostics, a clinical diagnostics company known as Idaho Technology, Inc., until a late August name change, has committed to create up to 657 new jobs and invest up to $50 million in an expansion in Salt Lake City. The Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development will support the expansion with an Economic Development Tax Increment Financing (EDTIF) post-performance refundable tax credit estimated to be worth approximately $25 million. Utah’s life sciences economic cluster has grown by 11 percent since 2006, says the state. Originally founded in 1990 in Idaho Falls, Idaho, the company has been located at University of Utah Research Park in Salt Lake City since 1997.

An August report from the Kansas City Federal Reserve analyzes the initial impact of the severe drought on everything from food prices to ethanol production to the cost of transport.

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The Site Selection Life Sciences Report features exclusive and in-depth reporting and analysis on the most important life science projects and issues. Topics covered include pharmaceutical R&D and manufacturing, biotechnology, medical device manufacturing, health-care services facility trends, clinical research and other key life science sectors.


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