RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – BioAgilytix, one of North Carolina’s fastest-growing home-grown life sciences companies, is adding 878 new employees with a $61.5 million investment in its global Durham headquarters.

The firm currently has some 300 employees in Durham, and the new job total could actually be higher, a company executive said.

Average wages will be some $95,000 a year with a variety of jobs to be created, the company announced Thursday morning.

The high-flying company, which provides contract bioanalytical testing for other companies’ large-molecule drug candidates, already is working on potential coronavirus vaccines, as well as possible treatments for Alzheimer’s disease and cancer.

“Through great cooperation with the state, led by Governor Cooper and Secretary Copeland, our decision was swayed to invest tens of millions of dollars into expanding our team and facilities in Durham County,” said Jim Datin, CEO of BioAgilytix. “Also, but more importantly, the area is rich with life sciences expertise and a great place to live. Since our founding, this access to exceptional talent has enabled us to thrive in North Carolina.”

Wendy Jacobs, chairwoman of the Durham County Board of Commissioners, said the expansion comes at an important time, as they county deals with significant unemployment in other parts of the economy, such as the hospitality sector hit hard by the pandemic.

A scientist at work in a BioAgilytix lab. (BioAgilytix photo)

Tax incentives

If new job targets are met, the company could receive some $18 million through a North Carolina Job Development Investment Grant over 12 years.

Large-molecule drugs, often referred to as therapeutic proteins or biopharmaceuticals, include amino acid-based molecules ranging in size from small peptides to large proteins such as monoclonal antibodies. Large-molecule drugs typically contain from 5,000 to 50,000 atoms per molecule, and typically require intravenous infusion.

Small-molecule drugs, in contrast, are “traditional” chemical compounds created in labs, usually with 20 to 100 atoms. They’re usually well suited to oral administration, reports Robin Deacle, Vice President, Corporate Communications for the Biotech Center.

“North Carolina is a world-class location for companies that lead in research and development to treat and prevent diseases like the coronavirus,” said Gov. Roy Cooper in a statement. “Companies like BioAgilytix expand here because they know North Carolina can provide the skilled workers and the stable business environment they need to succeed even during a global health crisis.”

Privately held BioAgilytix was founded by biochemist and serial entrepreneur Afshin Safavi in 2008. It grew quickly, from an initial three employees and was acquired by two private equity firms in 2018: Cobepa, a $3 billion Euro fund based in Belgium, and GHO Capital, a London-based fund established by North Carolina’s father of the contract research industry, former Quintiles founder and chair Dennis Gillings.

The BioAgilytix global headquarters in Durham. (BioAgilytix photo)

Who is BioAgilytix?

Our CRO lab services support all bioanalytical needs from discovery to pre-clinical and clinical development, manufacturing, and post-marketing surveillance under non-GLP, spirit-of-GLP, GLP, GCP or GMP. We have the capabilities to work with sponsors at our USA Headquarters in North Carolina, our European Headquarters in Hamburg, Germany, and at our Boston laboratory located in the epicenter of biotech innovation today.

At all of our locations, our scientists excel in the scientifically demanding area of assay development and can develop and pair customized assays with the optimal platform from our broad suite of technology options. Whether qualifying and validating assays, performing sample analysis, or supporting lot release testing for manufacturing, BioAgilytix upholds the same quality commitment to ensure the work is done efficiently, accurately, and to the highest performance standards.

Our lab services also go beyond our core competencies and technologies, as our staff is highly trained and exceedingly competent and we leverage every one of their skills to meet our client needs. This enables us to offer a wide range of supporting services, which are available to add-on to your existing projects or to utilize for a standalone assessment. Such services include spectroscopy, colorimetric analysis, HPLC, and more.

Source: BioAgilytix

With lab locations in Durham, Boston and Hamburg, Germany, BioAgilytix provides contract services to pharmaceutical and biotech companies internationally.

In August, BioAgilytix partnered with Boston’s Brio Systems to launch a platform providing U.S. employers comprehensive COVID-19 testing programs.

Recent WRAL TechWire headlines about BioAgilytix

Durham’s BioAgilytix partners with Boston firm to help employers test for COVID-19

Durham-based BioAgilytix acquires Massachusetts biomedical firm

Belgian investment company acquires Durham biotesting firm BioAgilytix