by Jim Shamp, NC Biotechnology Center — April 21, 2021 .
San Francisco-based medical genetics testing company Invitae is investing $114.6 million to bring its wide-ranging test manufacturing capability to North Carolina, adding 374 life sciences jobs to the Research Triangle area.
The company, whose name is pronounced “in-VEE-tay,” is moving into the rezoned and renovated 25-acre site of the former Morrisville Outlet Mall on Airport Boulevard, now with 245,000 square feet of Class A office and lab space and renamed The Stitch. The company said it chose the North Carolina site as its East Coast lab and production facility over competition from Frederick, Maryland.
“Biotechnology companies continue to choose North Carolina as a trusted and reliable location to grow their companies,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “From specialized workforce training programs to world-class research infrastructure, companies like Invitae appreciate the advantages our state delivers.”
Invitae has already provided medical genetics information to more than a million people. The company’s tests include direct-to-consumer screening of saliva samples for common cancers and cardiovascular disorders, as well as physician-ordered tests to assess whole blood, cell-free DNA, DNA, post-mortem specimens, embryo biopsies, and other sample types for diagnostic data, reproductive health, and preventive medicine.
The company’s test menu is one of the broadest in the industry, including panel testing for thousands of genes associated with hereditary cancer, neurological disorders, cardiovascular disorders, pediatric disorders, metabolic disorders, and other hereditary conditions. It also has the ability to quickly create custom testing panels.
“As we continue to expand to support our rapid growth in the U.S., we were eager to identify a location on the East Coast that would improve our ability to serve our customers, improve our operational leverage, and build a talented team with connections to a vibrant life sciences community. We have found the ideal location in North Carolina,” said Ken Knight, chief operating officer of Invitae. “Our mission is to make genetic information affordable and accessible for billions of people. Our new location near the Research Triangle Park will help us bring that mission to reality.”
Invitae already has 38 employees in North Carolina, and its agreement to hire at least 374 more between now and the end of 2026 requires that the current 38 positions must also be maintained. The company has more than 2,100 employees globally and currently has laboratory production facilities in California, Colorado and Washington.
“This announcement complements and strengthens North Carolina’s standing at the intersection of medical technologies, precision health, and clinical research that already includes such global leaders as LabCorp, GRAIL, Q2 Solutions, and more,” said Sara Imhof, Ph.D., senior director of precision health at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. Imhof leads NCBiotech’s role in founding and coordinating the North Carolina Precision Health Collaborative, a group of precision health experts that helps drive the specialty’s growth in the state. NCBiotech also helped support the Invitae recruitment by providing technical information to economic development partners.
Invitae, a publicly traded biotechnology company, was created as a subsidiary of Genomic Health in 2010 and then spun off in 2012. In 2017, Invitae acquired Good Start Genetics and CombiMatrix. Invitae has a solid history of growth through acquisition, including several notable deals in 2020.
In March 2020 it acquired three privately held companies: Diploid for $95 million in cash and stock; YouScript for $79.3 million in cash and stock; and Genelex for a stock outlay of $20.7 million. Diploid is a Belgian company that developed Moon, artificial intelligence software capable of diagnosing genetic disorders in minutes based on next-generation sequencing data and patient information. YouScript is a clinical decision support and analytics platform company. Genelex is a pharmacogenetic testing company that evaluates genetic variations that can impact how an individual responds to prescription medication.
Three months later Invitae acquired ArcherDX in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $1.4 billion. ArcherDX is a Colorado-based genomic analysis company with a platform technology testing for a wide range of cancers. It has developed and commercialized over 325 unique products, including research products and services in use by more than 300 laboratories worldwide, and has collaborated with more than 50 biopharmaceutical companies and contract research organizations, including partners such as AstraZeneca, Bristol Myers Squibb and Bayer, to cost-effectively accelerate drug development.
The 374 employees Invitae intends to hire during the next five years at the Morrisville location will receive minimum annual salaries of $91,176. That compares to the 2020 Wake County average of $63,966. State incentives for the company include a $6.8 million Job Development Investment Grant and $673,200 in community college workforce training support.
“North Carolina made a commitment many years ago to build a vibrant life science industry in our state,” said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. “Today, we’re seeing that vision and early hard work pay off as companies like Invitae bring new jobs and new investment to our state.”
Besides the technical support from NCBiotech, those partnering with the North Carolina Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Partnership of N.C. on the Invitae project include the North Carolina General Assembly, the North Carolina Community College System, the Research Triangle Foundation, North Carolina Central University, North Carolina State University, Wake Tech, the Capital Area Workforce Development Board, the Town of Morrisville, Wake County, the Morrisville Chamber of Commerce, and Wake County Economic Development and Triangle Diversity Equity and Inclusion Alliance, programs of the Raleigh Chamber.
Invitae’s new lab and office complex is owned and developed by Equator Capital Management and OCS Capital, and managed by CBRE|Raleigh.
Original Source: WRAL TechWire