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California biotech company makes UM BioPark its first East Coast location

(File photo)

(File photo)

California biotech firm Illumina will make the University of Maryland BioPark its first East Coast location, another major tenant for the research park now overflowing with tenants.

Illumina, a developer, manufacturer and marketer of biotech tools especially for use in genomic sequencing, is expected to generate more visitors for the BioPark as other companies send their employees to train on the Illumina systems.

“It’s a great, spectacular company that is one of the real leaders in the whole genomic sequencing field,” said Jim Hughes, president of the Research Park Corporation. “They could have gone anywhere on the East Coast, and they chose Baltimore and they chose the BioPark. … To get a major California company helps to put us on the map further.”

Illumina will take up 13,000 square feet in the west Baltimore BioPark. It will be the new location of the Illumina Solutions Center facility, with training lab and office space for customers.

Illumina has domestic offices in California and Wisconsin and international offices in Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Typically companies the size of Illumina look to places like Boston and New York when establishing their East Coast locations. Illumina’s decision to come to Baltimore, Hughes says, could spur an uptick in biotech visitors to the city who can take up city hotel rooms and rub shoulders with the city’s own biotech community.

“We’ll be able to interact with their customers that are coming here to get training on Ilumina’s equipment,” said Hughes, who is also the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s senior vice president and chief enterprise and economic development officer. “All of those people will be coming to Baltimore, and hopefully a couple will stick around.”

Illumina was already familiar with the BioPark and the University of Maryland, Baltimore from its work with the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Institute for Genome Sciences.

“We believe this will facilitate collaborative engagement in research activities with our academic partner, University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB),” Mark Van Oene, Illumina’s senior vice president and chief commercial officer, said in a statement. “We are inspired by all the ways genomics can stimulate economic activity to maximize impact in the region and fuel research with the potential to improve health outcomes for patients.”

As the BioPark fills up with private-sector tenants, its university tenants have begun to move back into university office space. Illumina will be taking up space that was previously held by the Institute for Genome Sciences.

More than 40 companies have space in the BioPark, including the growing Paragon Bioservices and Pharmaron.

“Our existing buildings in the BioPark are just overflowing with buildings and companies,” Hughes said. “I keep thinking it’s full, and then we keep squeezing people in.”

The BioPark recently revealed plans for a new 330,000 square-foot lab and office building, expected to open in 2021.

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