CHROMOCELL BUCKS ECONOMIC TRENDS; GROWTH SPURS MOVE UP
NJEDA’s Biotech Development Center Provides State-of-Art Lab Facility
NORTH BRUNSWICK, NJ (March 25, 2009) – Bucking national and state economic trends, Chromocell Corporation, a drug discovery company that accelerates the R&D process by applying its technology to the discovery of novel therapeutics against the most complex and challenging drug targets, marked a significant expansion today by officially opening a new 15,000 square-foot research facility employing 80 full and part-time researchers and support staff.
The company celebrated the opening with a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Biotechnology Development Center here on the campus of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority’s (EDA) Technology Centre of New Jersey. The ceremony was attended by state and local government officials, colleagues from other bioscience companies and industry representatives.
The new research facility represents a significant milestone for Chromocell, which was founded in 2003 to commercialize Chromovert, a groundbreaking technology that is revolutionizing cell-based drug discovery. Co-inventors of Chromocell were Dr. Kambiz Shekdar, the company’s chief scientific officer, and Nobel Laureate Dr. Gunter Blobel. Together with Chief Executive Officer Christian Kopfli, Drs. Blobel and Shekdar founded Chromocell.
Chromocell began as a three-person operation located in a single, 800 square-foot laboratory at the Commercialization Center for Innovative Technologies (CCIT), which is also located at the Technology Centre. In 2007, the company, which focuses on drug discovery for pain relief, anxiety treatment and respiratory disorders, expanded its operations and moved with 45 employees to space totaling 6,000 square feet at CCIT. With additional applications in biologics production, cell therapy and flavor research, the company’s growth resulted in the further expansion to the new research facility, which will accommodate the current staff of 80, with expectations of even further growth in the near-term future.
In support of the state’s Edison Innovation Fund, the EDA’s Biotechnology Development Center was created to attract emerging technology companies of all sizes to New Jersey and make “tweener” incubator space more readily available as growing tenants graduate from the CCIT and other incubators throughout the state. The Center includes 26,000 square feet of generic wet laboratory space that is completely fit out and ready for use. This allows growing companies to focus their capital on operations, rather than having to invest in tenant fit out. The new space provides Chromocell with its own conference rooms, reception area and visitor lobby and also features laboratories customized to the company’s workflow.
Under the Edison Innovation Fund, Chromocell also received assistance through the New Jersey Technology Fellowship Program. Administered by the New Jersey Commission on Science and Technology, the program provides salary funding for post doctoral graduates from state research universities to work in early-stage New Jersey technology companies. The Edison Innovation Fund, a key element of Governor Jon S. Corzine’s Economic Growth Strategy, was created in October 2006 to spur innovation, create new, high-paying jobs and cultivate an entrepreneurial environment for technology and life sciences companies in New Jersey.
“Chromocell’s graduation from CCIT into the Biotechnology Development Center demonstrates exactly how the concept of the generic wet labs was designed to work: a startup company thrives in the incubator, then moves on to graduate or ‘tweener’ space, and, hopefully in future years, to much larger space at the Technology Centre,” said Caren Franzini, chief executive officer of the EDA. “Chromocell represents an ongoing success story for New Jersey and exemplifies the kind of companies we are encouraging through initiatives like the Edison Innovation Fund.”
“In a little over a decade the number of bioscience companies operating in New Jersey has tripled from 80 to more than 240,” said Debbie Hart, president of the New Jersey biosciences industry trade association, BioNJ. “The history of Chromocell provides a glimpse as to why bioscience companies can thrive in New Jersey. Chromocell began as a small operation, but it has been able to grow due to the combination of the value of its intellectual property, a well designed and executed business strategy and the support that is available to young companies through the State of New Jersey.”