The US firm, Repligen, was founded in 1981 by distinguished scientists Alexander Rich and Paul Schimmel and develops novel technologies that advance modern bioprocessing. Repligen delivers robust, cutting-edge, configurable bioprocessing products and systems to major players in the pharma industry such as Roche, ThermoFisher, Merck, Moderna, Biogen, Janssen & Janssen, and Pfizer. Repligen products are used in the production of biologic drugs, and particularly monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), for this rapidly expanding global market. Repligen has found it’s ideal base for growth in the Dutch biotech ecosystem.
Prime Location in the Netherlands
The decision to locate in the Netherlands was made rapidly. ‘In 2019, the company was looking to expand its production capacity in OPUS columns, and we had this location that was suitable for that production.’ Leendertse explains the rationale behind locating in Breda: ‘Looking at this region, especially around Breda, there is biotech and pharma knowledge available, there is education – schools, and universities close by, and most people here speak English. We also have great infrastructure. So, a lot of the boxes were ticked. The decision to locate here was made pretty quickly.’
Their rapid decision-making helps drive Repligen’s growth. ‘Normally, this would have been a multi-year project,’ asserts Leendertse. ‘In 2019, we investigated possibilities and made a strategic decision. The engineering phase was completed in a year, which was very quick, even with the added difficulty of Covid. Construction began in 2020, and the facility was opened in August 2021.’ This was an ambitious trajectory by any standards. ‘In 2020, we had 12 employees here in Breda, and by the end of 2022, we will be up around 60 employees, the majority being fulfilled from the local talent pool.’
At the facility in Breda, there are eight cleanrooms, with four currently operational. The company is advancing step by step. The ambition is that once production has been consolidated, the other cleanrooms will be brought into service and that the company will move to 24/7 production. ‘I’m always looking for more space to start operations, and also for some new products as well,’ states Leendertse enthusiastically. With this philosophy, it is clear to see why Repligen is ranking high among the world’s rapidly growing businesses. The Netherlands has proved to be an ideal ecosystem to foster this growth.
Supporting Repligen with their growth The Brabant Development Agency is currently helping the company to integrate further into the regional and national Life Sciences & Health ecosystems in areas such as innovation and talent by inviting it to participate in various regional initiatives.