INC Research, a contract research organization with its global headquarters in Raleigh, has laid off 3 percent of its North American staff, or 34 people.

However, the company, which is privately held, remains committed to expanding its operations in the Triangle, according to a company spokesperson. INC, which employs some 1,200 people worldwide, announced plans last October to add more than 1,100 jobs in Raleigh.

“We reduced full-time staff by 3 percent last week,” said Trisha Vonder Reith, executive director of corporate communications at INC. “This was strictly within North America.

“It was essentially to better align our headcount with our business needs,” she added. “Some projects were finished and others were not ramping up as fast as we had anticipated.”

Contract research organizations, or CROs, work with pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device firms in conducting clinical trials and other work. The CRO business sector is growing rapidly in the Triangle with firms such as Quintiles Transnational and Pharmaceutical Product Development adding jobs. PRA International, meanwhile, is moving its headquarters to the region from Virginia.

Reith noted that INC “is growing” and that the layoffs did not mean “doom and gloom.”

INC manages seven operations in North America, six in the U.S. and one in Toronto.

Last fall, the state of North Carolina agreed to provide INC Research with as much as $14.8 million in grants, provided the company meets certain job-creation requirements. The company is working with the state Department of Commerce regarding the grant and job commitments, Reith said.

“The company is still strong, and we are growing, but as with a growing business we at times have to look at demand and make adjustments,” Reith explained. “We are always looking for ways to grow. We anticipate healthy future demand.”

When asked how many jobs INC still planned to add in Raleigh, Reith said, “We don’t have visibility on numbers.”

INC employs more than 300 people in Wake County. The deal with the state calls for the company to invest at least $17 million and allows it to create some new positions in Charlotte and Wilmington.

INC already operates 27 offices in 35 countries.

According to media reports, the company has been considering going public with a stock offering valued at some $75 million.

INC Research has been on a fast track of growth. In April the firm acquired a CRO based in Pennsylvania. The company also recently opened an office in Switzerland and launched operations in India.

In March of 2007, INC formed a joint venture with GVK Biosciences, a CRO in India. Each owns 50 percent of the venture. The new firm is called INV GVK BIO Private Limited.

INC Research plans to run Phase 1 through Phase IV clinical trials in India for its pharmaceutical and biotech clients.

In December of 2005, INC expanded its footprint in Europe by acquiring NDDO Oncology, BV, a global CRO known as a leader in the field of anticancer drug development.

In 2002, INC acquired Vujaklija, one of the first CROs to service Central and Eastern Europe.