By the BF Staff
Gov. Matt Bevin and Lexington Mayor Jim Gray recently announced Hera BioLabs Inc., a biotech startup providing genetically specialized products and services for scientists and pharmaceutical researchers, will establish a new headquarters and create 23 jobs in Lexington with an investment of $1.8 million.
“Hera’s products and services hold promise in contributing to the fight against cancer and other diseases that affect us all,” said Gov. Bevin. “Our ability to attract, retain and assist in the growth of companies in the biomedical and pharmaceutical industry, underscores Kentucky’s status as an innovative state addressing real and persistent problems. We welcome Hera BioLabs to the Commonwealth and look forward to helping them grow.”
Hera plans to outfit an existing building to produce specialized laboratory rat models that could make pharmaceutical testing quicker, safer and more cost effective. Build out will include positive-pressure barrier rooms for housing the rats, as well as office and laboratory space.
Established in 2015 as a spinoff of Lexington-based Transposagen Biopharmaceuticals Inc., Hera will move its current seven employees from the University of Kentucky campus to its new facility. Jack Crawford, Hera CEO, said he expects to open the new location this summer.
“We aim to help develop a safer, healthier world through the advancement of toxicology testing. Kentucky is an ideal location for a CRO like Hera to start and grow as it offers a competitive edge in manufacturing and an excellent place to recruit and attract the type of talent we are looking for,” Crawford said.
Mayor Gray said the expansion speaks to Lexington’s efforts to foster the industry.
“Hera’s success is Lexington’s success in creating an environment that attracts entrepreneurship and enables businesses to prosper,” said Mayor Gray. “When a home- grown biotech firm expands here we know we’re on the right track.”
Scientists, including pharmaceutical researchers, can use the specialized rats to more accurately test drugs and other therapies before moving to human clinical trials. Crawford said that step promises to reduce the high failure rate of expensive and time-consuming clinical trials.
Additionally, Hera plans to provide services to external researchers including laboratory services and animal husbandry, as well as various specialized cell lines and lab rats for toxicology testing.
Commerce Lexington Inc. President & CEO Bob Quick welcomed the expansion.
“Cutting edge technology is being done right here in Lexington by Hera BioLabs,” Quick said. “We’re proud that Hera is expanding its company and technology in our city and creating 23 new jobs for our citizens. Thank you to Hera for your investment and commitment to Lexington.”
To encourage the investment and job growth in the community, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority preliminarily approved the company for tax incentives up to $300,000 through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the agreement term through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.
In addition, Hera can receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies are eligible to receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives. Last year, the Kentucky Skills Network trained more than 84,000 employees from more than 5,600 Kentucky companies.
RAPID GROWTH AT COLDSTREAM LABS
An estimated investment of up to $10 million by Piramal Pharma Solutions at Lexington’s Coldstream Laboratories Inc., which develops and manufactures injectable pharmaceuticals, will create 40 new jobs and expand capabilities.
India’s Piramal Pharma Solutions, which purchased Coldstream Labs a year ago, plans to invest in, and expand Coldstream Labs’ manufacturing facility on McGrathiana Parkway.
“Growth in private-sector employment—particularly high-paying, skilled jobs like these—moves Kentucky forward on the national and global level,” Gov. Matt Bevin said. “On behalf of all Kentuckians, I congratulate and thank Piramal Pharma Solutions and Coldstream for this investment to further strengthen Kentucky’s pharmaceutical industry. We are excited by this opportunity to become an increasingly important part of Piramal’s global footprint and look forward to many years of partnership with them.”
William Wedlake, president, Formulations & Antibody Drug Conjugates (ADC), Piramal Pharma Solutions, said the investment aligns well with the company’s long-term growth strategy.
“In addition to developing new clients, the Kentucky facility also allows our current ADC clients to forward integrate seamlessly and address their fill-finish needs,” Wedlake said. “As oncology becomes key in our collaborators portfolio, our ability to handle high potency APIs, develop and deliver high quality, robust, cost effective drug product solutions becomes a key differentiator. I am optimistic that the Kentucky site, will help us achieve that objective.”
Vivek Sharma, CEO of Piramal Pharma Solutions, said the project will help the Lexington facility grow into a significant player in the contract manufacturing market for injectable pharmaceuticals.
Coldstream Labs started in 1991 as the Center for Pharmaceutical Science & Technology, a unit of the University of Kentucky College of Pharmacy. It completed more than 200 development projects that led to clinical trials. In 2007, the college spun off Coldstream Labs as a private company owned by the University of Kentucky Research Foundation.
As a separate independent business, Coldstream Labs gained the ability and technical expertise to manufacture liquid and freeze-dried injectable products. In January 2015, the Research Foundation sold Coldstream Labs to Piramal Pharma Solutions, a global leader in pharmaceutical contract services, and the flagship division of the Mumbai, India-based Piramal Group. Under Piramal, Coldstream Labs can access the financial resources needed to expand its facilities and meet its customers’ needs.
Mayor Jim Gray said the expansion demonstrates the importance of being a university city.
“The excellence of the University of Kentucky Pharmacy program and the brainpower it has brought to Lexington are creating good jobs for our citizens,” Gray said. “These are homegrown jobs that build on our growing reputation in the pharmaceutical industry.”
The Piramal Group operates in more than 30 countries with a presence in 100-plus markets around the world. Piramal Pharma Solutions, a division of Piramal’s flagship company Piramal Enterprises Limited, also maintains U.S. operations in Bethlehem, Pa. in addition to Coldstream Labs.
To encourage the investment and job growth in Lexington, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) preliminarily approved the company for tax incentives up to $800,000 through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the agreement term through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.
Additionally, KEDFA gave Coldstream Labs preliminary approval for up to $140,000 in tax incentives through the Kentucky Enterprise Initiative Act (KEIA). KEIA allows approved companies to recoup Kentucky sales and use tax on construction costs, building fixtures, equipment used in research and development and electronic processing.
Coldstream Labs can receive resources from the Kentucky Skills Network. Through the Kentucky Skills Network, companies are eligible to receive no-cost recruitment and job placement services, reduced-cost customized training and job training incentives. Last year, the Kentucky Skills Network trained more than 84,000 employees from more than 5,600 Kentucky companies.
Update: Commerce Lexington Inc. was recently named the 2016 Chamber of the Year in the large chamber category by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. This comprehensive awards program recognizes excellence across all aspects of the organization, including operations, member services, and community leadership.