Vancouver-based biomanufacturing company AbSci is moving its operations into a much larger headquarters at the Columbia Tech Center in east Vancouver. It’s part of an expansion of the rapidly growing business that’s working on COVID-19 vaccine work.
The new headquarters, which AbSci is leasing, will take up about 61,000 square feet at 18105 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd. The building, owned and built by PacTrust, is new, and AbSci will be its first tenant, said AbSci founder and CEO Sean McClain. Portland-based Bora Architects designed the tenant renovations.
The company will move out of its current spot in The Hudson Building at 101 E. Sixth St. in April or May of 2021, McClain said.
In October, the company announced it had raised $65 million in investments, with most of the money going toward the company’s expansion into the new space. It will also be spent on hiring an additional 100 employees and purchasing new capital equipment, including small fermentation tanks to develop proteins.
The expansion “will allow us to quadruple our overall capacity,” said McClain.
McClain said that the company is seeking new employees from around the country, and most will have doctorates. The new hires will contribute to the economic growth of Vancouver and also attract other biotech companies — a number of firms currently outside of Vancouver are considering moving here, McClain said.
“I believe it will start to create a hotbed for synthetic biology,” he said. “That’s excellent from an economic development standpoint. That would be our hope. We continue to grow.”
AbSci was founded in Portland in 2011 and moved to Vancouver in 2016 after Gov. Jay Inslee invested $200,000 into the company from his Strategic Reserve Fund.
The company engineers microorganisms called E. coli to produce proteins for pharmaceutical companies that use them to efficiently manufacture drugs, including insulin. AbSci can lower the cost of goods by 75 percent and allow pharmaceutical companies to get drugs to market one to two years earlier, McClain said.
The new Columbia Tech Center headquarters will allow AbSci to expand operations into multiple wings and into other buildings if it needs more space.
“We’re excited to call Vancouver home,” McClain said.