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News / Business / Clark County Business

Vancouver biotech firm Absci lays off 15 percent of its worldwide staff

Absci has laid off 30 employees

By Sarah Wolf, Columbian staff writer
Published: September 7, 2023, 10:24am

Local biotechnology company Absci announced earlier this week that it has laid off about 15 percent of its staff worldwide.

The Vancouver-based company made the news public in an SEC filing Tuesday. Thirty employees were laid off Aug. 31 as part of what it termed an organizational realignment.

The employees impacted were based both remotely and in Vancouver, according to a statement from the company released Thursday.

“This was a difficult decision, and it’s always sad to see talented people who have made significant contributions leave the company,” said Absci founder and CEO Sean McClain. “However, it’s the right step so that we can strategically invest our efforts in sustaining our (artificial intelligence) competitive edge, and validate our capabilities through the progress of our own pipeline.”

The executive went on to add that he sees the company as being at the center of the artificial intelligence transformation in drug creation.

“We are well-positioned to lead the way from right here in Vancouver, Washington,” he added.

The layoff was “undertaken to further focus on and allocate resources to Absci’s internal pipeline of drug discovery programs and de novo (artificial intelligence) platform,” the SEC filing read.

Thursday’s statement said the employees were all offered severance pay, extended benefits, employment placement services and other employee assistance.

AI platform

Absci uses its artificial intelligence platform to discover biologic drugs, a process that can potentially bring them to the market faster than the traditional drug discovery process. The company went public in 2021, the same year it moved into a 61,000-square-foot headquarters building in east Vancouver.

The company said in its filing that it doesn’t expect the layoffs to affect its ability to execute current or new programs in the future.

Absci announced a partnership with the California Institute of Technology just last month. That work will entail research toward finding affordable HIV therapeutic vaccinations.

Absci laid off an undisclosed number of staff last year around this time. McClain said at the time that layoff was due to “macro-economic conditions.”

Absci trades on the Nasdaq as ABSI. Its stock took a bit of a tumble after the announcement, closing Tuesday at $1.72 per share, compared with where it closed before the holiday weekend at $1.87 per share. It closed Thursday at $1.62 per share, down further from where it closed at $1.66 per share on Wednesday.