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Made in the Brazos Valley

Plants – and a whole lot of them – are at the core of how iBio strives to make lives better each day through its rapidly-growing business.
The Bryan-based contract development and manufacturing organization helps produce protein-based medicines, including monoclonal antibodies, vaccines and enzyme replacement therapies. iBio enables companies to get their products through scientific and clinical assessments and to market. Related services like pharmaceutical vile filling, analytical services and regulatory assistance are also available for companies early in the pharmaceutical development process.
Previously a customer of Caliber Biotherapeutics, iBio acquired Caliber’s facility in early 2016. The 139,000 square foot building is in the Brazos Valley’s Biocorridor, which runs along the College Station and Bryan city limits. iBio was able to scale up its technology as a result of the acquisition.
The company grows 2.2 million plants at one time, each weighing about eight grams at maturity. If the team can successfully produce the appropriate medicine in one of those plants, it can be done in 2.2 million plants and beyond if necessary. The cellular machineries of the plants are essentially borrowed for a week to create a protein. Then, the plants are harvested, and the desired proteins are extracted. From the initial growth of the plants through the extraction and significant quality-assurance testing, the process takes eight-to-ten weeks.
Part of the reason the Brazos Valley was chosen to be home to the facility was the proximity to Texas A&M University, its research and its talent. In fact, a primary focus of iBio is hiring people trained locally. The geographic location of the region provides stability, along with easy access to airports, ports and communications.
iBio has approximately 50 employees. Most are in the Brazos Valley and include agronomists, production engineers, scientists and project managers. As client work is expanded, iBio is set to add more employees, mostly at their Brazos Valley site. The company projects increasing its employee count by 40-to-50 percent by the end of 2020.
In addition to a significant geographic focus in North America, iBio has seen strong international growth in recent years. For example, the company has been working on the creation of a yellow fever vaccine for the Ministry of Health in Brazil. iBio and Chinese company CC-Pharming are also partnered to improve an antibody that treats certain cancers and autoimmune diseases.
Robert Erwin, President of iBio, shared what he believes to be the advantages of doing business in the Brazos Valley:
“It is a much more cost-effective place to do business than the main biotech centers in the United States. California, Boston – those are all extremely expensive. It is very hard to maintain high-quality staff at those real estate levels and the general cost of living levels. This also is a really good place to do business because Texas is a business-friendly state. This area with its proximity to the university has the features of favorable cost, favorable access to high-quality people – a pool of very skilled labor from entry-level all the way through PhD and experienced corporate people – and the geographic location. It is easy to get to other parts of the world from here.”
iBio employees take pride in their work. While following their scientific passions, they are motivated to help people by creating better technologies to provide better products in a better way. In short, they want to do well by doing good.
For more information on iBio, visit their website, ibioinc.com.
Feature from May 2019