Baltimore biopharm business growing as fast as the field
In just three years, Paragon Bioservices has more than doubled its employee count as it explores the latest in biopharmaceutical development at its Baltimore City location. The company – founded nearly 30 years ago – received institutional funding in 2014 and started a growth spurt as it restructured its executive management team to capitalize on Paragon’s expertise in the rare disease and gene therapy space. Located in the University of Maryland BioPark, Paragon has increased its workforce from 100 to 225 employees.
The company’s CEO, Pete Buzy, credits much of that growth to funding and incentives like the One Maryland Tax Credit, which allows businesses that invest in economic development projects in select areas to receive state income tax credits, project tax credits, and start-up tax credits. Those credits in combination with funding from two major regional private equity firms, Camden Partners and NewSpring Capital, have allowed Paragon to experience rapid growth.
“A big milestone for us was when we became a GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) facility, meaning the drug products we produced could immediately be used on people,” said Buzy. “Being part of the biotech ecosystem in Maryland played a huge role in that achievement due to the proximity of research talent at institutions like Johns Hopkins and University of Maryland. Those resources – combined with tax incentives – have allowed us to thrive as a company.”
Paragon is heavily involved in rare diseases and gene therapy, but also touches many other crucial areas in biopharm including vaccine production, oncology, microbiome, microbial control, and a wide array of therapeutic proteins. Looking forward, the company strives to grow exponentially to conduct Phase III/ commercial manufacturing, which involves a significantly more robust quality system to support large patient population trials for a potentially marketable product. These studies could involve hundreds to thousands of patients to prove the safety and efficacy of new drugs.
“Right now our facility is functioning as a Phase I & Phase II site,” Buzy said. “Phase III/commercial manufacturing would dramatically increase our employee number and be a huge milestone for the company. We are already looking towards a 300-man workforce by the end of 2018 into 2019.”
For more information about the company, visit paragonbioservices.com.