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Business Observer Tuesday, Apr. 12, 2022 5 months ago

New life sciences facility opens in Sarasota

Akron Bio has an ambitious goal of hiring 100 employees by the end of this year.
by: Amanda Postma Sarasota-Manatee Editor

The life sciences industry grew a bit bigger today when Akron Bio held its ribbon-cutting ceremony at its new Sarasota location. 

“We were born and raised in Florida,” Claudia Zylberberg, the founder and executive chair, said at an April 12 event. The advanced therapy development focused company is headquartered in Boca Raton.

“In its first phase, this facility is intended to specialize in manufacturing plasmid DNA,” says Dolores Baksh, the vice president of commercial. “Plasmid DNA, once introduced to cells, has the capacity to restore normal functions and even prevent genetic disorders like cystic fibrosis and Huntington's disease.”

With around 30 people in attendance, the Akron Bio team led tours through the new current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) plasmid DNA manufacturing facility, explaining the process of manufacturing plasmid DNA as guests walked down the hall peering through windows that looked in on the facility's equipment. 

The new location, only in its first phase of development with a total of three planned, will continue driving advanced therapy development as well as commercialize ancillary materials like plasmid DNA for life-saving therapies and vaccines. 

By the end of this year, Akron Bio plans to hire 100 employees for the new Sarasota location. The goal for next year is to double that number. The company hopes to partner with area schools to employ the next workforce generation, which is one of the reasons it chose this location.

Akron Bio has been around for 15 years. In 2020, it turned its sights on Sarasota for its proximity to several universities and colleges as well as to the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport, which positions the company as more accessible to clients.

The location in Sarasota at 600 Tallevast Road is the “perfect place in terms of buildout,” Baksh says. The ribbon-cutting was held to celebrate the unveiling of the first phase, which occupies 54,000 square feet of space. Baksh says the location has an additional 110,000 square feet to grow into for the following two phases. 

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