The city of Pittsburgh may be known as “the Steel City” for its predominance of steel-related businesses and as the “City of Bridges” for its over 400 bridges, but it soon may be able to add “City of Biomanufacturing” to its descriptors. ElevateBio, a cell and gene therapy company, announced that it will be investing in its first Pennsylvania operation through the buildout of an ElevateBio BaseCamp biomanufacturing facility with the University of Pittsburgh.
“To realize our vision of transforming the cell and gene therapy field for decades to come, broadening our footprint across metropolitan areas is a key priority for us, and we are thrilled that the University of Pittsburgh will be home to one of our BaseCamp facilities,” said David Hallal, chairman and CEO of ElevateBio. “We’ve identified Pittsburgh as an ideal location to extend our BaseCamp presence as it sits at the intersection of science, technology, and talent. We are grateful for the support of the Governor and County Executive as we bring the first-of-its-kind offering we have built at ElevateBio BaseCamp to advance the work of the entire biopharmaceutical industry.”
Through the agreement, ElevateBio will locate one of its next BaseCamp process development and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) manufacturing facilities in Pittsburgh, fully equipped with its enabling technologies—including gene editing, induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) and cell, vector, and protein engineering capabilities.
The 30-year agreement extends ElevateBio BaseCamp’s manufacturing footprint to Pittsburgh. The move is in response to a growing demand for industry-leading next-generation technologies, process development, and GMP manufacturing capabilities.
The University of Pittsburgh will finance the build-out of the anticipated 80,000-square-foot ElevateBio BaseCamp biomanufacturing facility and ElevateBio will commit to a long-term lease with extensions. Construction is expected to begin in 2023 and the University of Pittsburgh and ElevateBio estimate that it will take three to four years to complete construction, fit-out, and qualification as a biomanufacturing facility for cell and gene therapies.
The Richard King Mellon Foundation announced a $100 million grant to the University of Pittsburgh in November 2021 to create the Pitt BioForge Biomanufacturing Center at Hazelwood Green. The grant was the largest single-project grant in the Foundation’s 75-year history. The University of Pittsburgh and ElevateBio BaseCamp intend to locate the new technology-enabled process development and GMP manufacturing facility at Pitt BioForge at Hazelwood Green to further innovation in the Pittsburgh region.
The new facility is expected to generate more than 170 permanent full-time jobs, 900 construction jobs, and 360 off-site support jobs.
Tom Wolf, Governor of Pennsylvania, said, “When I first took office, I promised to support Pennsylvanians with a strong business economy by creating and retaining good jobs that pay well. This investment in ElevateBio is just the latest fulfillment of that promise.”
“I’m thrilled to welcome ElevateBio to the commonwealth,” said Gov. Wolf, “where they’re joining a $50 billion life sciences ecosystem.”
Knowing that creating good paying jobs is only one piece of the puzzle, Gov. Wolf has also prioritized improving STEM education and manufacturing training opportunities across the commonwealth to ensure that Pennsylvanians have the necessary skills to succeed in the jobs being created. In 2018, he launched PA Smart to expand STEM education and make computer science available to all students.
Pitt Senior Vice Chancellor for the Health Sciences, Anantha Shekhar, MD, PhD, continued by saying, “We have some exceptional emerging research coming out of the University of Pittsburgh. However, the missing ingredient has been access to high-quality process science and manufacturing capabilities. As we position ourselves to become the next global hub for life sciences and biotech, we were in search of the right partner to help us realize our vision, and ElevateBio’s expertise and reputation in cell and gene therapy made them the perfect partner to accelerate our ability to build our biomanufacturing center of excellence.”