Regions Southern Virginia

Pharmaceutical firm has expansion plans

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Carl Sahi, president of Engineered BioPharmaceuticals, couldn’t be happier with his company’s location in Danville. The area is not only close to North Carolina’s Research Triangle but it also has a work force with the skill set Sahi needs. “We’re impressed with the capable and creative talent base we have found so far in the region,” he says, noting that he now has 12 employees. “We’re also impressed with the community’s support.”

Engineered BioPharmaceuticals is a pharmaceutical processing company that converts protein-based drugs, which are usually injected, into dry powders, giving the drugs a multiyear shelf life and making them more stable at room temperature.

It is the first biopharmaceutical company in Danville, and its presence has helped the city attract the attention of other companies. “We have gotten a lot of publicity,” says Jeremy Stratton, director of Danville’s Office of Economic Development. “Because of the company, we have received some inquiries from other biopharmaceutical companies. That is one of Danville’s top two or three target market areas.”

Last year Engineered BioPharmaceuticals received a $3 million research grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology as well as another $3 million from the Virginia Tobacco Commission for expansion and further research and development.

Sahi, who lives in Connecticut but commutes to Danville, has been impressed with Virginia’s business climate. “We have found the people we are dealing with in Virginia to be very pro-business and creative in helping support initiation and growth,” he says. “Other states are behind that aggressive curve.”

He plans to expand his company in the next three years and move to a larger manufacturing site in Danville’s Cyber Park. The expansion would create approximately 100 jobs for skilled professionals and technicians. “We are always very hopeful,” he says. “We are in late-stage discussions with a very large company to make a product for them. We are hoping to know early [in 2012]. If that comes through, we will move forward at a faster pace.”

The move to Cyber Park would give Sahi the opportunity to design his company’s building. “The pharmaceutical field is highly regulated by the FDA,” he says. “It’s hard to go into a current structure and retrofit it and meet all the current requirements of the FDA.” 

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