Philadelphia Building on Life Sciences Success

Philadelphia Building on Life Sciences Success

By: Sara Warden

2 min read January 2020 — Last March, Philadelphia came in at an impressive eighth in CBRE’s ranking of top life sciences markets. Now, almost a year on, the city’s life sciences industry shows no sign of losing momentum – in fact, it is gathering speed.

Last week, the Philadelphia Science Center announced it would award $200,000 each to three Philadelphia-based researchers to develop their early-stage concepts for cancer treatment and diagnosis. The individuals – Ian Henrich, a postdoctoral researcher at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia; Emily Day, a bioengineer at the University of Delaware; and Haim H. Bau, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Pennsylvania – are developing novel technologies to progress the understanding, detection and prevention of cancers, HIV and sickle cell disease.

This strong focus as a city on the importance of cutting-edge research is one factor that attracts multi-million-dollar companies from around the United States to invest in Philadelphia, which in turn attracts auxiliary services such as specialized logistics and software companies. Digital marketing firm Imre Health, which represents AstraZeneca’s diabetes and respiratory portfolios, announced its decision to establish an office in Philadelphia late last year for just that reason.

“We have carved out a niche at Imre, redefining the patient and HCP experience through digital channels, and Philadelphia is the [ripest] with that kind of talent even compared to New York,” Imre’s President and Partner Jeff Smokler told PR Week. “We view this Philadelphia office as a major tool to help us manage growth and ensure that we’re keeping pace with service needs and requirements. We see the Philadelphia office as dousing the industry with more gasoline.”

But the real test of the success of any company is its ability to list on a stock exchange. In 2019, three of Philadelphia’s life science companies went public, raising nearly $200 million in IPOs. Arch Street-based biotech company Cabaletta Bio raised $74.8 million. Galera Therapeutics, which is developing a treatment that reduces harmful effects that stem from radiation therapy, raised $60 million, with an option for investors to purchase an additional 750,000 shares. And in November, Tela Bio, a surgical reconstruction company developing novel material for tissue reinforcement, raised $52 million in exchange for the 4 million shares it leveraged.

It doesn’t stop there. In October, Anpac Bio, a Chinese bio-medical science company, chose Philadelphia for its US headquarters and second clinical laboratory. “We are very excited to be moving forward with our U.S. corporate headquarters and laboratory in Pennsylvania. The state has a mature life sciences ecosystem and a supportive startup environment that will allow our U.S. business to lay the foundation for future success,” said Shaun Gong, Anpac’s U.S. president, in a press release.

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Philly Bets Big on Biotech

Philly Bets Big on Biotech

By: Sara Warden

2 min read December 2019 — The biotech industry is unlike almost any other. Companies spend billions of dollars in drug development that can end in failure, generate little to no revenue but can still be worth billions of dollars. According to Toptal Finance, almost 80% of the companies listed on the Nasdaq Biotech Index (NBI) – around 150 – have no earnings, but they represent over $250 billion in market capitalization.

The average venture investment in biotech has more than doubled over the past decade, from $4.6 billion in 2005 to $12.9 billion in 2015. Why? Because when a biotech company wins, it wins big. And Philadelphia is one of the cities channeling its energies into attracting biotech investment.

“In general, we are punching below our weight,” said Dean Miller, the president of the Philadelphia Alliance for Capital and Technologies (PACT), during the Regional Biotech Conference hosted by the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center last month.

In 2018, Philadelphia made it into the Top 10 ranking in the country in terms of most venture capital deals completed with 214, amounting to around $1.4 billion. During the first nine months of 2019, the number stood at 178. About 80% of VC is from other regions, said Miller, but “that’s not a big thing because capital is portable,” he added.

But Miller believes the $50 million Hatch BioFund life science incubator, established in July, will turn that trend around and allow Philadelphia-based companies to invest more in life sciences. “Entrepreneurs selected for the investment program will have the opportunity to be part of a highly successful ecosystem of support, resources, collaboration and knowledge sharing. We have tremendous talent and knowledge in our network, and are excited to bring the ideas and science that are incubating to the forefront of the life sciences industry,” said Vladimir Walko, CEO of Hatch Management, in a press release.

Another factor that boosts the sector is the fact that more and more companies are moving to the city daily as they can see the benefits it provides as a biotech hub. The latest to move to Philadelphia is Diverse Biotech, a biopharmaceutical company developing cannabidoil therapeutics for hard-to-treat cancers, including basal cell carcinoma, pancreatic cancer and glioblastoma.

The Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center, which opened in 2006, is one of the primary reasons why the company decided to make the move. Already home to a network of around 50 biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical devices companies, Stella Vnook, Diverse Biotech’s CEO, said in an interview with the Philadelphia Business Journal that the center is “truly a tremendous scientific community and a perfect place for Diverse Biotech to continue its growth journey.”

Bradley Campbell, president and chief operations officer of Philadelphia-based Amicus Therapeutics, said innovation, talent and like-minded companies make the city one of the best places to set down roots for biotech companies. “We could’ve gone to Silicon Valley or to Cambridge, anywhere in the world really, but it was clear to us that we needed to be near the momentum, that spark of innovation, the entrepreneurship, the acquisitions, the medical centers — Penn, Temple, and Drexel, all right here in Philadelphia,” he told Philly Mag. “Being in proximity to so much innovation has been amazing for us.”

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