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Business Observer Monday, Nov. 22, 2021 3 days ago

Biotech firm moves HQ to region, plans 100 new hires

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CEO says startup plans to hire a large contingent of personnel in 2022.

TAMPA — A former New Jersey bioscience company has moved its North American headquarters to Tampa, where it intends to hire 100 people by the end of 2022. The company also plans to expand its presence in Sarasota, utilizing a new contract manufacturing facility.

The firm, Florida Biotech, calls itself a ‘sustainable wellness’ innovation company, which, according to a statement, is “technology that solves our problems but is environmentally mindful from the start.” A key mission, the company officials add, “is creating products for their global customer base sourced from natural and organic compounds that outperform those made of legacy chemicals.” The company’s products, sold under several portfolio companies, includes essential oil-based biostatic face mask fresheners, botanical based hypo-allergenic dog shampoo, hospital grade virucidal surface disinfectants and other EPA certified cleaning agents.

Florida Biotech co-founder and CEO Mike Wetzer says the startup, now with a dozen or so employees, chose Tampa for similar reasons multiple other businesses have selected the region: a diverse talent base; local and state business-friendly governments; available risk capital; higher education options; reliable infrastructure; and logistical advantages. “We will be expanding pretty rapidly,” Wetzer says in an interview with the Business Observer. The company plans to hire people in branding, brand management, sales, technology and research and development, among other positions. It plans to have 100 people hired by the fourth quarter of 2022, Wetzer says.

While the company has had a presence in Sarasota, Wetzer says it will be using a new contract manufacturing facility, named Plant 42, on U.S. 301 and University Parkway.  

Florida Biotech joins several other biotech and life sciences entities in recently expanding or relocation to the Tampa region. Two industry giants, Bristol-Myers Squibb and Johnson & Johnson, have chosen Tampa as the home of their major North American operations. Other life sciences companies in the area include Quest Diagnostics, Covidien, HealthPlan Services, Synergy Health, Smart Science Labs, LifeLink, Biologics Development Services, and Xcelience. “Tampa is the right home for Florida Biotech,” Wetzer says in a statement. “We can grow our business in the area’s dynamic and vibrant biotech sector while enjoying it as a terrific place to live and work.”

Wetzer previously worked in Silicon Valley, where he was a managing partner for Accenture. Clients he worked with there included Sun Microsystems and Cisco. He later worked in New York City before relocating to the Tampa region, where he connected with some executives at Florida Funders, a venture capital fund and angel investor network.

Wetzer declines to disclose how much Florida Biotech is investing in its move to Tampa, or how much funding its already received. He said Florida Biotech, at the this stage, would be considered a late stage seed round or Series A round for investors. “We have a pretty strong set of financial backers,” he says in the interview, “that I believe can take us where we want to go.”

 

 

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