AB BioTechnologies Invests $10.5M to Build Manufacturing Facility

AB BioTechnologies, the Bloomington, IN-based drug development and services  company, announced last month that it will invest $10.5 million to build a new 23,000-square-foot facility. The expansion signals a new direction for the company: It plans to add manufacturing capabilities and help clients “advance their drugs from concept to clinic under one roof,” says CEO Jeff Schwegman.

The new facility will include space to formulate, fill, freeze-dry, and package drugs for early-phase clinical research. The company will also relocate its existing warehouse and development laboratory to the new space. AB BioTechnologies plans to open its new facility in November, and the expansion is expected to create up to 33 new jobs.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) offered AB BioTechnologies up to $290,000 in conditional tax credits and up to $30,000 in training grants; both are performance-based. According to the IEDC, Monroe County is considering additional incentives at the request of the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation.

Currently, Schwegman says, AB Biotechnologies specializes in contract research and development work and has expertise in freeze-drying, a process that stabilizes bio-based molecules. The company’s expansion will allow it to manufacture and test injectable drug products that will be used in clinical trials involving humans and animals, reducing the time it takes to get a drug from concept to testing.

Schwegman founded the company in 2008 from a back bedroom in his home after a long career in the healthtech sector, he says, and it originally was a consulting and teaching firm. AB Biotechnologies opened its first lab in 2010, and growth has been steady from there, he says. He feels that adding manufacturing capabilities to the operation will give it an advantage

“We understand the science behind the formulation, not just how to manufacture it,” Schwegman explains. “If there are issues, we’re right there to correct them. It’s rare for a small company to do manufacturing as well as R&D, and most large manufacturers aren’t interested in doing small batches for clinical study.”

AB Biotechnologies has four full-time employees, and Schwegman expects that number to increase to 30 by the end of the year. Although the company has not pursued backing from venture capital firms, it has gotten support from private investors, grants, and entities such as the Gayle & Bill Cook Center for Entrepreneurship at Ivy Tech Community College-Bloomington.

Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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