A new biomanufacturing facility, and along with it hundreds of jobs, may be coming to RTP.
KBI BioPharma, a startup focused on so-called bioreactor technology, has received a $1 million loan from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center and is negotiating to secure use of the former Mitsubishi semiconductor plant to build a biomanufacturing facility.
KBI’s business plan calls for the company to 75 people over the first two years of operation and a workforce of more than 500 by 2007.
Recruiting biomanufacturing firms has been a target for the NC Biotechnology Center, and the General Assembly has been debating legislation that would fund an extensive training program for biomanufacturing workers.
“After a thorough due-diligence process, we concluded that KBI was a company with high growth potential that would further strengthen North Carolina’s biomanufacturing industry,” said Leslie Alexandre, president and chief executive officer of the Biotech center.
KBI selected North Carolina for its plant after reviewing offers from several other states, according to Anthony Laughrey, its president and chief executive officer.
“We are choosing North Carolina over six other states because of its supporting infrastructure for the biosciences, including the Biotechnology Center, excellent research universities and community colleges, specialized construction and engineering companies, available workers, and extensive workforce training programs, in addition to its high quality of life,” Laughrey said in a statement. “None of the other six measured up when all of these factors were considered.”
He also said the plant was recruited by both the Biotech Center and the North Carolina Department of Commerce.
KBI has received angel funding from a number of investors, including Frank Auman, a real estate developer in Greensboro. The company is seeking $5 million in additional venture financing for its first two years of operation.
A spin-out of Kinetic Biosystems in Atlanta, KBI is commercializing technology developed by Dr. Heath Herman, who is a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Bioreactors produce cells in large stainless steel vessels and under strict controls, according to KBI.
According to Laughrey, KBI wants to manufacture therapeutics and vaccines for other biotechnology and biopharmaceutical firms.
The Mitsubishi campus, which covers 74 acres, is called Teer Technical Park. Laughrey said the plant’s existing facilities for specialized water and air handling would help KBI avoid having to build a new facility from scratch. He said he is talking with Teer Associates and economic development officials in Durham County.
The loan will be provided in two installments, the second based on KBI meeting certain milestones.
The NC Biotech Center made the loan through its economic development investment fund.
NC Biotech Center: www.ncbiotechcenter.org