Spark Therapeutics To Invest $575M In Philadelphia

The commercial gene therapy company's state-of-the-art innovation center will be located on Drexel University’s campus in Philadelphia’s University City neighborhood.

Spark Therapeutics will invest an initial $575 million to create a state-of-the-art gene therapy innovation center on Drexel University’s campus in the heart of Philadelphia’s University City neighborhood. Through a 99-year ground lease of Drexel’s F Lot, the new center will create opportunities for collaboration with Drexel and Philadelphia’s booming life sciences community.

Spark Therapeutics is a member of the Basel, Switzerland-based Roche Group and a fully integrated, commercial gene therapy company dedicated to challenging the inevitability of genetic disease.

“Through this significant investment and plans to more than double our physical footprint, we’re poised for continued growth as we seek to develop the next generation of genetic medicines as a member of the Roche Group,” said Jeff Marrazzo, CEO and co-founder of Spark Therapeutics. “Since founding Spark eight years ago, Philadelphia has been part of our company’s DNA and we’re proud to continue to call Philadelphia home for many years to come.”

Spark Therapeutics Philadelphia
Spark Therapeutics at Drexel Square. (Photo courtesy of Spark Therapeutics)

As part of Spark’s projected 1 million-square-foot campus in Philadelphia, the 500,000-square-foot, multi-story building will bring hundreds of gene therapy experts together under one roof to drive science forward, challenge the inevitability of genetic disease, and serve as a Roche global center of excellence for gene therapy manufacturing.

“As one of the U.S.’s leading biotech hubs, there is no doubt that Philadelphia will play a crucial role in the advancement of cell and gene therapies,” said Severin Schwan, CEO, Roche. “Spark’s gene therapy innovation center creates endless opportunities for collaboration, talent development and research investment, and we’re proud to make a long-term commitment to the city and add Philadelphia to the Roche map.”

Construction of Spark’s new gene therapy innovation center is anticipated to begin in the fourth quarter of 2022. In addition to Spark’s physical expansion, the project marks the beginning of a long-term partnership with Drexel and is part of the company’s larger commitment to creating positive change in the Philadelphia community.

“We are proud to partner with Spark Therapeutics in advancing life sciences research and innovation in University City,” said Drexel President John Fry. “This partnership will generate unparalleled opportunities for our students and faculty to participate in groundbreaking research and to help create and sustain the workforce that will make West Philadelphia a leader in the life sciences revolution.”

“Since founding Spark, we knew Philadelphia had the potential to be the life sciences hub it is becoming today,” added Marrazzo. “From our prestigious universities and hospitals, to the investments poured annually into scientific research and the sheer volume of medical professionals that receive training here, Philadelphia has every ingredient necessary for life sciences companies to succeed. We’re honored to be part of Philadelphia’s success story and proud to feature the city in the next chapter of Spark’s story with our colleagues at Roche.”

Through a partnership with Brandywine Realty Trust, Schuylkill Yards — a $3.5 billion innovation district of mixed-use buildings and streetscapes — will be built on 14 acres of strategically-located Drexel University land over the next 20 years. Drexel University City Development purchased the site from the School District of Philadelphia in 2014, thereby expanding the uCity Square footprint that Wexford was developing along Market Street. Drexel raised funds to build a state-of-the-art public elementary school and a middle school on the site, which will also house a 450,000-square-foot Health Sciences Building.

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