Greater Oklahoma City is in the geographic center of North America equidistant from the east and west coasts and major trade partners of Canada and Mexico. The ten county region is at the crossroads of the U.S., sitting at the heart of three major national highways on the NAFTA corridor.
There's a reason Greater Oklahoma City is such a great place for business: Location. The ten county region is positioned within a day's drive of the rapidly-growing south-central region (OK, TX, AR, LA) projected to grow more than 44% during the next 25 years.
An expansion announced in May by Cytovance Biologics within the Presbyterian Health Foundation Research Park in Oklahoma City is the first step in the contract biologics manufacturer growing large enough to move into its own building at the tech campus within three to five years, foundation President Mike Anderson told BioRegion News this week.
"We need to expand them because their contracts are coming in from all over the world now," and the company is working with undisclosed pharmaceutical giants to bring products to market, Anderson said in an interview. "Within that three- to five-year period, we need also to build a new building so they can go into the 25,000-liter bioreactor."
By then, Anderson said, Cytovance will need about 100,000 square feet. To make that building possible, he added, PHF will need to add to the tech park's infrastructure: "What we have, we're just going to have to double - the water, and gas, and electrical systems, and so on. It's not like a plug-in kind of expansion. We're going to have to add that."
The building would be the eighth building to rise at the research park, a 700,000-square-foot, 27-acre campus located near the seven-college Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center and downtown Oklahoma City. About 80 percent of the campus has already been developed. The seventh building opened last summer, a $20 million, 130,000-square-foot class A office and wet lab facility.
Cytovance chairman William Canfield headed a local investor group that bought the company in 2006, four years after he sold his six-year-old startup Novazyme for $229 million to Genzyme. Novazyme specialized in treating Pompe disease, a rare neuromuscular genetic disorder that Genzyme targets through its Myozyme drug.
Genzyme named Canfield to head its glycobiology research institute, but when the biotech giant wanted to move the institute to the East Coast, he insisted instead on keeping operations at PHF, hence Cytovance locating in the park. Last month, Cytovance announced it was "in very late planning stages of expanding" within PHF's 44,000 square-foot manufacturing facility. "When the expansion is complete the facility will house an additional 1,000L and 3,000L scale manufacturing process trains," the company said in a statement.
Cytovance, which employs more than 50 staffers, said it intends to triple that number to 150 within a year.
Cytovance is one of the 35 life science employers that account for most of the roughly 55 tenants at PHF research park - a number that includes diagnostics, medical device, and therapeutics companies.
PHF is a private, not-for-profit foundation that oversees development of the research park on a city urban renewal site, renting the building lots from the city at "nominal" cost, Anderson said, then selling its sites to the city as they are completed. The city still owns the lots for the research park's planned eighth and ninth buildings; a structured parking lot for all nine buildings has already been completed by PHF. When completed, the research park will have 1 million square feet of class A wet labs and offices.
When those sites are completed, Anderson said, PHF plans to develop another 24 acres near the research park; it has rights for another 1 million square feet in up to eight additional buildings.