Pennsylvania’s I-99 Corridor: Breedor Reactor for Life Sciences Breakthroughs
Read about how leading biotech and life sciences companies in Pennslvania's I-99 Corridor join Penn State University researchers in collaborations that are making the world safer and healthier
From leading biotech companies to ambitious startups, from a major research university to high school tech programs, from scientific experts to dedicated line workers, Pennsylvania’s I-99 Corridor is home to efforts that are making the world safer and healthier.
This corridor’s quality of life and abundance of skilled workers have attracted innovative life sciences companies, while leveraging the research and commercialization capabilities of Penn State University to nurture leading-edge biotech enterprises.
Indeed, Penn State is a major contributor to biotech and life sciences innovation. Times Higher Education ranked PSU among the world’s top 50 universities. The university attracted nearly $354 million in National Institutes of Health grants during fiscal year 2015.
PSU’s Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences offer multiple graduate and doctoral programs while housing four major research institutes and centers in Ecology, Genome Sciences, Infectious Disease and the Neurosciences.
With more than 2,500 science and technology-based researchers, PSU also provides key resources for life sciences enterprise. The university’s Innovation Park includes incubator facilities, lab space and programs that encourage entrepreneurship and tech transfer. Among the biotech companies that benefit are Peconic, which provides laboratory and data analysis methods to the epigenetic research community, and Salimetrics, which supports researchers and the immunodiagnostic industry worldwide with innovative salivary-immunoassay products and lab services.
Animals and Magnetism
I-99’s dynamic life sciences cluster extends well beyond Penn State, of course. Leading firms include IndigoBiosciences, whose testing and screening technology determines how compounds affect the receptors inside a cell’s nucleus.
Sound Technology, also in State College, develops transducer technology used by original equipment manufacturers and clinicians for a wide range of ultrasound applications, including radiology, cardiology, obstetrics and gynecology, and surgery.
State College-based BioMagnetic Solutions, whose work centers around building a better platform to serve cutting-edge, cancer cell-therapy research, began in 2011 as research-oriented company and will continue to be that, says co-founder Paul A. Liberti.
“We’ll continue purveying top-notch technology and products to the research community in an interactive way,” he says. “We have several ongoing collaborations with top-tier researchers and more on the horizon. In that way, we believe we can be a partner in advancing the frontier.”
Another innovative company, Lampire Biological Laboratories in Bedford County, provides custom antibody products and services, immunochemicals and reagents, and blood and biology products. Lampire operates expansive animal facilities – a 15,000-square-foot bioprocessing lab and a 400-acre complex housing large domestic farm animals and small laboratory animals – to create custom biologic products that serve pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies across the world.
“Lampire is more than a state-of-the-art biotech firm,” says Gregory F. Klug, company president. “We are part of a strong community team helping to build a young, tech-savvy workforce with a laser-like focus on striving to do a task right the first time, every time.”
Lampire is one of many I-99 companies that benefit from skilled workers who graduate from academic and training programs in the life sciences.
For example, a program offered through Bedford County Technical Center (BCTC) and Allegany College of Maryland allows students to take ag-biotech courses for two years in high school, two years for an associate degree, and finish with two years at a four-year institution.
I-99 Corridor: Location, Location, Location
Actuated Medical, a medical device company based in Bellefonte in Centre County, develops leading-edge, minimally invasive instruments for clearing occlusions, penetrating bone and tissue, and enabling the emerging MRI-guided surgical procedure industry. The company’s facility includes advanced equipment for 3-D manufacturing and rapid prototyping.
The I-99 Corridor’s location appeals to Actuated Medical’s president and CEO, Maureen Mulvihill.
“We interact with clinicians in Philadelphia, at the Cleveland Clinic, in New York City and in Pittsburgh,” she says. “Being centrally located, we can get anywhere from where we are right now within a couple of hours.”
Like Klug, Mulvihill values the corridor’s educational resources and abundance of skilled workers.
“The quality of the workforce in our area is outstanding,” she says. “I have an exceptional team, and the quality of life in our communities attracts those exceptional people to this area.”
For her company and many others in the corridor, the best may be yet to come: Actuated Medical is doing well and “looking at opportunities to expand” in the near future, Mulvihill says.