Home > VA > Charlottesville > Education, Careers & Opportunity > Central Virginia is Experiencing a Biotech Boom

Central Virginia is Experiencing a Biotech Boom

A great network, active investors and a large talent pool power the thriving biotech sector in Central Virginia. 

By Kim Madlom on October 19, 2022

Man working in the lab at Rivanna Medical in Charlottesville, VA, which is located in Central Virginia.
Andrew Shurtleff Photography

Established and emerging companies are propelling Central Virginia’s biotech boom, and resources like CvilleBioHub ensure this important sector continues to grow.

The region is home to the highest density of biotech companies in Virginia — boasting over 75 companies and 2,000 employees working across all aspects of biotech/life sciences to advance human health through innovation.

Charlottesville-based companies like RIVANNA, founded in 2010, and InBio, founded in 2001, have spent years making medical advances in the region.

That’s no surprise as Central Virginia offers many perks for the biotech sector, including a robust fiber optics network, active capital investors and a large talent pool. That’s why the region is experiencing an influx of biotech startups alongside veteran companies with solid roots in the area.

Forward-Thinking Fermentation

Operating in Louisa County, BIO CAT is a leading expert in enzymes and microbials. Its continued innovation focuses on custom formulations and patented technology to solve everyday challenges in the human, animal, agricultural and industrial markets.

“My father, Ed Schuler, was a pioneer in the enzyme industry,” says Chris Schuler, BIO-CAT CEO and co-founder. “Leveraging his global resources and knowledge of the enzyme market, BIO-CAT helped launch the digestive dietary supplement market in the U.S. We were also in a unique position to identify the future potential of microbials (probiotics) given our market leadership role in the digestive enzyme market. We have capitalized on the natural synergy between these complementary technologies — enzymes and microbials — and are fortunate to be 15 years ahead of the industry on this concept.”

The company continues to grow and is investing $35 million in a fermentation facility in Troy.

“BIO-CAT is excited to expand our microbial business to the Central Virginia area, bringing new jobs and furthering our fermentation capabilities,” Schuler says. “The facility will be state of the art, including custom-designed fermentation equipment allowing us to produce for the human and animal probiotic markets as well as other microbial applications.” 

“The best judge of the future is the past, and between 2020 to 2021, more than 400 new jobs were created among the companies we surveyed.”

Susan Klees, CvilleBioHub

Along with investing in the company, BIO-CAT is investing in Central Virginia. “The region is centrally located to major transportation routes and cities, allowing easy access to other parts of the country,” Schuler says. “We enjoy beautiful four-season weather, access to the Blue Ridge Mountains or Atlantic Ocean, and an easy drive to our nation or state’s capital. As a result, we’ve been able to successfully recruit talent in the industry, including a skilled manufacturing workforce locally and expertise from some of the best academic institutions around the U.S.”

People gather around for a presentation at CvilleBioHub in Central Virginia.
Courtesy of CvilleBioHub

Fertile Ground

CvilleBioHub promotes and supports the region’s biotech and life sciences sector by building community, advancing entrepreneurship and expanding the impact of biotech and life sciences in the area. Biotech startups working with CvilleBioHub find help with licensing, financing, incubation and more.

“This region is fertile ground for biotech companies to be hatched and grow,” says Susan Klees, co-founder and board member of the CvilleBioHub, which aims to double the size of the industry by 2030.

Success takes several forms, Klees notes. In some cases, success comes with exits — when a company is purchased, and investors recoup investments and profit. Success can also involve bringing new products to market or going public and attracting more investors.

A recent example of a successful milestone is the announcement that NDA Partners’ parent company, The Planet Group, merged with ProPharma Group. The combination will accelerate growth opportunities and support ProPharma Group’s higher purpose of improving patient health and safety while bolstering Planet’s mission of helping clients’ diverse talent needs.

“The best judge of the future is the past, and between 2020 to 2021, more than 400 new jobs were created among the companies we surveyed,” Klees says. “The future is bright in the region. More companies will grow and achieve their business milestones.”

If you’d like to learn more about the Central Virginia area, check out the latest edition of Livability: Central Virginia

Array ( [0] => 149567 [1] => 149559 )
Array ( )
Array ( )
Array ( [0] => 149567 [1] => 149559 )

More To Read

Newsletter Sign Up

Keep up to date with our latest rankings and articles!
Enter your email to be added to our mailing list.