Location, Location Not an Obstacle to Biotech Success

BioWorld Today

January 16, 2013

Tillman Gerngross Tillman Gerngross

Despite its roots in small town USA, Adimab LLC is becoming the belle of the global biopharmaceutical ball, with a dance card that includes partners from all over the world.

Just last week, the antibody discovery firm stepped out with a new partner, Kyowa Hakko Kirin Co.; extended its dances with Merck & Co. Inc. and Eli Lilly and Co.; and boasted of milestone payments from existing collaborators Gilead Sciences Inc., Biogen Idec Inc. and Novo Nordisk A/S.

That's not bad for a 5-year-old biotech nestled in Lebanon, N.H. Especially one that came of age during a recession that saw several start-ups limping away from the ballroom before their first dance.

More than two hours' drive from a major city (Boston), Lebanon has a population of 13,500 and its outlying fields and forests butt up against an even smaller town — Hanover, N.H., home to Dartmouth College.

Dartmouth is a big reason Adimab is based in Lebanon. The company's CEO and co-founder, Tillman Gerngross, is a professor of bioengineering at the university. And the Adimab campus is in a natural light-filled building initially created as temporary office space for Dartmouth faculty in a wooded research/commercial park that's also home to a hotel, Mexican restaurant, food co-op and gym.

While its location off the well-trodden path of biotech clusters hasn't tripped up Adimab's success, it has made recruitment more challenging, Gerngross told BioWorld Today. But once scientists come, they're committed, he added, as they enjoy the quality of small town life with its slower pace, laidback lifestyle and no traffic jams.

They also find the work fulfilling. Since Adimab's yeast-based antibody discovery and optimization platform is being used to develop biologics across a broad spectrum, its scientists are working on what could be cures for numerous diseases, including cancer, infectious diseases (a big area), pain (potentially migraine) and possibly HIV, Gerngross said.

Another perk is that the venture-backed biotech is a partnership, with the employees owning half the company. And to help compensate for the lack of big city amenities, Adimab has built a sense of family for its 70 employees.

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