Dunedin-based biotech company Pacific Edge is setting up
its United States commercial laboratory and headquarters for
its diagnostic bladder cancer test in Pennsylvania, within the
Hershey Centre for Applied Research, a university and
technology research facility.
The lab, located in the Hershey Centre technology park, will
service urologists and GPs throughout the US.
Pacific Edge, which has spent more than $15.7 million on
research and development on cancer diagnostics during the
past decade, recapitalised itself and raised $20.1 million
last year, the latter to commercialise its Cxbladder cancer
Pacific Edge is to receive more than $US2.3 million ($NZ2.79
million) in grants and incentives from the state of
Pennsylvania's business division, the Economic Development
Administration of the Department of Commerce, to build and
fit out its lab in the centre.
Pacific Edge chief executive David Darling said the company
had been working with the state government and the Hershey
Centre for the the past two and a-half years on its
The centre is funded by chocolate giant Hershey's $US600
billion trust fund for disadvantaged children.
"This [Hershey Centre move] really is the icing on the cake,
a cake that has been in the making for a long time," Mr
Darling said yesterday.
The move into the tech park was "great news" for Pacific
Edge's shareholders, as it required only a "small capital
outlay" for the company because of the $US2.3 million
received in grants, he said.
"This is a huge opportunity for us as the US healthcare
market is one of the largest in the world.
Having a laboratory significantly funded by grants and
incentives lowers our market-entry risks getting established
in the US," Mr Darling said.
While the Hershey Centre would become Pacific Edge's US
"operating headquarters", all research and product
development would remain in Dunedin, Mr Darling said.
"The core team is here and the [New Zealand parent company's]
head office remains in Dunedin," he said.
Construction of the facility was under way, and Pacific Edge
expected it to be completed by August, with potentially up to
100 full-time staff employed over three years.
Pacific Edge's Cxbladder product is a quick, non-invasive
urine-sample test to diagnose bladder cancer and for
prognostic use in cancer monitoring.
While recently having won contracts in several other
countries, Pacific Edge's focus is on the lab in
Pennsylvania, which should be operational by the end of the
year, with the capacity to deliver 250,000 tests a year to US
GPs and urologists.
Cxbladder was also being marketed to urologists in New
Zealand and Australia, with Spain and Portugal to be targeted
soon, Mr Darling said.
The almost five-year-old Hershey Centre is an emerging
commercial base for technology companies, targeting life
sciences, nanotechnology and clean-tech companies, from
early-stage to mature businesses, to assist them to grow.
It is in partnership with Pennsylvania State University and
the Pennsylvania State Milton S.
Hershey Medical Centre, and its tenants have access to
advanced technology and other research resources, described
by Mr Darling as a "technology hub".
Being based at the centre had many advantages for Pacific
Edge, as there has recently been a world-class cancer
research facility established nearby, he said.
The lab is close to New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and
Washington DC, which have a combined population of 58
million, and international carrier Fed Ex's largest US hub is
only 25 minutes from the centre.
The centre leases customised research, manufacturing,
commercial and office space and also offers strategic
business services tailored to each tenant.
Pacific Edge will occupy 1050sq m of space for offices and a
processing facility for analysis of its Cxbladder test
The Hershey Centre has more than 7400sq m of laboratory and
office space and there are eight other tenants.
Last month, Pacific Edge was one of five New Zealand
companies invited to attend the US' largest healthcare
conference, held in San Francisco, for the third consecutive
There were about 340 bio-tech-related companies at the
conference, all of which were hoping to attract interest from
potential partners in a variety of fields.