Deal Flow

Rubius Therapeutics plans to construct $155M biopharma facility in Smithfield

Details of the deal, which include tax incentives from Rhode Island, to be approved at R.I. Commerce Corp. board meeting today

Image courtesy of Rubius Therapeutics website

An image from the Rubius Therapeutics website showing a part of the process of its red cell therapeutics technology.

By Richard Asinof
Posted 6/28/18
The decision by Rubius Therapeutics to locate its new manufacturing facility in Rhode Island is a vote of recognition for the relationship that Rhode Island occupies in the regional innovation economy.

What additional kinds of financial supports are needed to support the growth of a regional academic research enterprise that links Providence, Boston, Cambridge, New Haven and New York? Are there health care innovations beyond clinical research, such as health equity zones and neighborhood health stations, which should become part of the regional approach? Will Dr. Atul Gawande be invited to tour the new Neighborhood Health Station in Central Falls and the Sankofa Initiative in the West End?
One of the programs underway as part of the Advance-CTR initiative is complimentary certification program by the Society for Clinical Research Associates open to Rhode Island-based clinical research professionals.
In a related matter, Christopher Schmid, Ph.D., serves as director of Advance-CTR’s Clinical Research Design, Epidemiology, and Biostatistics core program, was recently appointed as chair of the Department of Biostatistics at the Brown University School of Public Health.

PROVIDENCE – Rubius Therapeutics, the Cambridge, Mass., biotech firm which filed on June 22 what would be the largest IPO for a Massachusetts biotech in history, seeking to raise up to $200 million, is planning to construct a $155 million pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Smithfield, Rhode Island, seeking tax credits under Rebuild Rhode Island Tax Credit program in the amount of $2.75 million, according to the R.I. Commerce Corporation agenda posted on Tuesday, June 26.

At its 3 p.m. meeting today, Thursday, June 28, the Commerce Corporation is expected to approve the tax credits, at which time Gov. Gina Raimondo is scheduled to announce the details of the new plans with Rubius Therapeutics. [The event had been cryptically put on the Governor’s public schedule notice as “Governor to make jobs announcement at R.I. Commerce Board meeting.”]

In an interview with CommerceRI Secretary Stefan Pryor, Pryor said that the new 135,000 square-foot biopharma manufacturing facility would result in the creation of more than 150 jobs at the facility, separate from the construction jobs that will be created. [The project will involve a retrofit of an existing facility.]

Rubius Therapeutics will also be seeking state incentives under the Qualified Jobs Tax Incentive Tax Credit program, according to the CommerceRI board meeting agenda.

Red cell therapeutics

Rubius Therapeutics, which was founded and launched in 2015 with the support of Flagship Pioneering, is a pioneer in the development of what it calls a new class of therapeutic medicine, Red Cell Therapeutics.

The company is already one of the best-funded startups in the local biotech sector, having raised some $245 million since its launch, according to a Boston Business Journal story on June 25 by Max Stendahl.

Rubius Therapeutics currently has 83 employees, according the IPO filing, as reported by the Boston Business Journal. Later this year, the firm is planning to move into its new headquarters at 399 Binney St., a major new development in Kendall Square in Cambridge, Mass.

The Rubius Therapeutics website described its propriety platform to genetically engineer and culture its red cell therapeutics that can express biotherapeutic proteins within or on the surface of the cell as follows:

The Red Cell Therapeutics, also called RCTs, result “in highly potent, well-tolerated and ready-to-use cellular medicines for the potential treatment of a range of diseases.”

The website description continued: The potent biology of the underlying platform will allow us “to manufacture missing enzymes for patients living with enzymatic rare diseases, kill tumors in cancers and regulate the immune system for the treatment of autoimmune disease.”

Further, the website description said: “From a single O-blood donor we can generate enough doses to potentially treat hundreds to thousands of individual patients.”

Building a regional ecosystem
Pryor praised the decision by Rubius Therapeutics to locate its new manufacturing in Rhode Island, saying: “This is an important company with an enormously promising emerging technology in red cell therapeutics.”

Coupled with Amgen’s decision to create a new facility as part of its big expansion in Rhode Island, Pryor continued, the decision by Rubius Therapeutics to locate its facility in Rhode Island signaled the important role that Rhode Island can play within the regional innovation economy.

Further, Pryor praised EpiVax and its recent move of its headquarters to Olneyville as a home-grown success story. “Dr. Annie De Groot is a true Rhode Island gem,” he said, lauding the CEO and CSO of the biotech firm that recently celebrating its 20th anniversary.

Innovation campus news
In other developments, Pryor indicated that progress continues apace on the process to choose applicants for the proposed Innovation Campus initiative, with interviews being conducted this past week with prospective applicants. “We’re pleased with the progress,” he told ConvergencRI, saying that they were faced with the “delightful” problem that “these are superb applicants.”

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