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NC's Bioscience Sector Keeps Gaining in 2016

By Barry Teater, NCBiotech Writer

North Carolina’s life science sector registered another year of robust growth in 2016 with deals that will create capital ​investment and high-paying jobs well into the future.

Following are some of the top stories of the year.


Novo Nordisk Begins Construction of $1.8 Billion Plant


Novo Nordisk broke ground in March for a $1.8 billion production facility for diabetes medicines at its Clayton site that will create 700 high-paying jobs, doubling its workforce there.

The project is reported to be the single largest manufacturing investment in North Carolina history. Once completed, the new facility will measure 833,000 square feet and have a footprint of 417,639 square feet, or about seven football fields. As many as 2,500 people will work on the project at peak construction.

New jobs at the facility are projected to pay an average salary of $68,000.

Patheon Goes Public


Patheon, a global pharmaceutical company headquartered in Durham, raised $585 million in an initial public offering of stock in July.

Patheon is one of the world’s largest contract drug manufacturers, operating 26 facilities around the world that employ some 8,400 people. That includes nearly 1,600 employees working at its three North Carolina campuses in Durham, Greenville and High Point.

The company has announced plans to add 488 jobs to its sterile-fill facility in Greenville by 2019 as part of a planned $159 million expansion there.


Quintiles Completes Mega Merger with IMS Health

Research Triangle Park-based Quintiles Transnational, the world’s largest provider of product development and healthcare services, completed a merger of equals with IMS Health, a global information and technology services company headquartered in Danbury, Conn., in October.

The companies said the merger creates an information and tech-enabled healthcare service provider with global scale and reach, and a full suite of end-to-end clinical and commercial offerings.

The new company, QuintilesIMS, has a market capitalization of more than $17 billion, an enterprise value of $23 billion, revenue of $7.2 billion and a workforce of 50,000 employees in over 100 markets. The company maintains dual headquarters in Danbury and RTP, with executives based in both locations.

Grifols Expands Again in Clayton

Blood therapeutics company Grifols said in March it would invest $210 million to build two new facilities at its Clayton campus.

Construction of a new $90 million plasma fractionation plant will start in the first quarter of 2017, with a target of bringing it into production in 2022. The second building, a $120 million purification plant for intravenous immunoglobulin, will come into production in late 2021.

The added buildings were announced less than a year after the Spanish company began production in a $370 million Clayton manufacturing addition, which the company said brought in 200 new workers and added several therapeutic targets to the company's offerings.

Aurobindo Pharma to Bring 275 Jobs to Durham

Global generic drug maker Aurobindo Pharma USA said in April it would invest over $31.7 million to establish a new national headquarters in Durham that will bring 275 new R&D and pharmaceutical manufacturing jobs with a $17.1 million annual payroll.

New Jersey-based firm is the American arm of the publicly traded Indian parent Aurobindo Pharma Limited, which employs 15,500 people worldwide in the production of semi-synthetic penicillin and other therapeutics for the neuroscience, cardiovascular, infectious disease, diabetes, and gastroenterology markets.

Precision BioSciences Signs Deal with Baxalta

Precision BioSciences, a 2006 Duke University spin-out with a unique method to target and alter DNA, signed a development deal with Baxalta that could bring the Research Triangle Park-based Precision up to $1.6 billion.

Baxalta, a global pharmaceutical company based in Illinois, intends to use Precision’s technology to develop anti-cancer treatments called allogeneic chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapies.

Bamboo Therapeutics Acquired by Pfizer

Bamboo Therapeutics, a next-generation gene therapy company based in Chapel Hill, was acquired by the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer of New York for $193 million.

Shareholders of the privately held Bamboo will also be eligible for potential milestone payments of up to $495 million if the company’s product candidates achieve development, regulatory approval and commercialization goals.

Bamboo was focused on developing gene therapies for four rare central nervous system and neuromuscular diseases that strike children: giant axonal neuropathy, Friedreich’s ataxia, Canavan’s disease and Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Medical Plastics Company Opens Near Asheville

Raumedic, a family-owned German company, opened a $27 million development and production facility and U.S. headquarters in the Henderson County town of Mills River to make medical and pharmaceutical plastic and rubber components.

The company plans to have as many as 172 employees working at the site within the next several years at an average annual wage of $55,000. The 60,000-square-foot facility, located on a 10-acre site in the Broadpointe Industrial Park, south of the Asheville Regional Airport, is the first U.S. production facility for Raumedic.

The facility will use extrusion, liquid-injection molding and assembly processes to make medical-grade components, including tubing and parts for pumps used in nutrition and pain management; and tubing, filters and drip chambers used in eye surgeries.

State’s Bioscience Job Growth Outpaces Nation’s

A report on the nation’s life science sector said bioscience jobs in North Carolina continue to grow at more than triple the national average, pushing the total number of people employed in the life sciences statewide above 70,000 for the first time.

The report says the sector’s job growth across the nation was 2.2 percent from 2012 to 2014, while North Carolina’s jobs grew by 6.6 percent to 70,466 during that time.

The numbers are part of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization’s State Initiatives Report 2016, conducted by TEConomy and released at the BIO 2016 International Convention in June.

$2 Billion Bond Referendum Passes

North Carolina voters in March approved a $2 billion state bond referendum that will have long-term benefits for the state’s bioscience infrastructure and economic competitiveness.

The bonds will finance nearly $1 billion in new construction and building renovations on the 17 campuses of the University of North Carolina system and another $350 million on the 58 campuses of the state’s Community College system. Most of those buildings house – or will house – science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs that conduct research and prepare students for careers in the biosciences.


New AgTech Accelerator Raises $20 Million  

AgTech Accelerator a new Research Triangle Park firm focused on discovering and developing emerging agricultural technology companies, launched in May and raised $20 million by November.

AgTech Accelerator was established to identify, form, finance and manage emerging agriculture companies to develop technologies that address the world’s growing population, related food and water shortages and supply chain constraints.

It will provide its companies a shared management team, committed investors, academic collaborations and access to more than 1 million square feet of rentable office, lab and greenhouse facilities in the Research Triangle Park through Alexandria Real Estate Equities.

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