Work begins on $19 million expansion of the PABC
State and federal grants will cover nearly half of the construction costs
More architect's images are posted here.
Construction has begun on a $19 million expansion of the nonprofit Pennsylvania Business Center (PABC), which is one of the nation’s most successful life sciences incubators. The PABC’s leadership joined with local elected officials to celebrate with a ceremonial “Construction Kickoff” on Sept. 17.
The PABC, which is next to the Doylestown Airport in Buckingham Township, has more than 70 member companies, 41 of which have operations in the facility.
“We are confident in Pennsylvania’s future, as our investment in this major expansion clearly demonstrates,” Timothy M. Block, Ph.D., founder, president and CEO of the PABC, said. “We also appreciate the vote of confidence in our operation by state legislators and federal officials, who provided the grants needed to move our project forward.”
The PABC has received $4.4 million in grants from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, according to state Sen. Steven J. Santarsiero.
“Entrepreneurs at the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center have produced more than $2 billion in company value, created hundreds of new jobs and launched several publicly traded companies,” Sen. Santarsiero said. “Our state investment not only spurs further economic growth to the area’s biotech sector, but it has the added benefit of helping to save lives and to improve the quality of life for many.”
State Rep. Wendy Ullman noted that state funding helped launch the facility in 2006. She added, “The PABC has generated many significant innovations in the pharmaceutical and medical device sectors that have the potential to benefit human health worldwide.”
The PABC expansion also is funded by a $4.7 million grant from the U.S. Economic Development Agency. The remainder of the costs are being financed by a local bank.
The expansion will lead to additional jobs at the facility, perhaps more than 100, Dr. Block said, along with dozens of new companies and millions of dollars in commercial activity. PABC-member companies currently employ more than 300 highly skilled scientists, staff and students.
Research and development at the facility has produced two new FDA-approved drugs and two new medical devices that are now on the market, with more than 10 new drugs and medical devices in clinical trials.
The PABC also houses a teaching lab and state-of-the-art research facilities where college undergraduate and grad students, as well as students from the Central Bucks School District and other area districts, receive training in biomedical research.
“We’ve been at full capacity for the past seven years and we have a waiting list of companies that want to locate in the PABC,” said Louis P. Kassa, MPA, executive vice president of the PABC and the Blumberg Institute, which manages the center. “At the same time, there will be opportunities for new companies to move into the PABC with our expansion. And I am very confident that we will be fully subscribed when we cut the ribbon in fall of 2021.”
The project entails construction of a new 37,000 square-foot rectangular, two-story building between two existing structures, which will mean a 40% expansion of the PABC. It will provide 15,000 square feet of new laboratory space and a larger main entrance. Other features include more offices, conference rooms and a 200-seat event space.
“A key addition will be the HatchBio Accelerator, which will provide common space for very early stage companies,” Kassa said. “It’s our goal to provide a continuum of support for scientists and their emerging technologies, and the HatchBio Accelerator will be ideal for pre-incubation companies that do not yet require dedicated space.”
The project includes infrastructure improvements, such as additional parking and a stormwater holding basin, which is on four acres next to the PABC purchased for that purpose. The most recent state grant, which was announced Aug. 28, will fund renovation of existing space to add research and training labs plus new offices to be used for R&D associated with COVID-19.
The construction manager is The Norwood Company. The architect is Steven Cohen of Princeton. Cohen also designed the current facility, which was an empty printing facility and warehouse where up to 146 people once worked.
The PABC website provides details about PABC membership options and upcoming events, such as the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center’s annual life sciences industry conference, which will be held on Nov. 5 as a webinar.
About the Pennsylvania Biotechnology Center (PABC): The PABC is a nonprofit life sciences incubator-accelerator, offering state-of-the-art laboratory and office space to early stage biotech companies, as well as the Hepatitis B Foundation and Blumberg Institute. Managed by the Institute and led by a board appointed by the Foundation, PABC is home to more than 40 small to mid-size science, research and pharmaceutical companies. The center uses a highly successful services-based approach to nurture and guide its member companies to success, advancing biotechnology, maximizing synergies among nonprofit scientists and their commercial colleagues, and launching new ideas and discoveries that will make a difference. PABC is in Bucks County, in the heart of the Philadelphia-New Jersey pharma belt. To make a donation to the PABC, click here.