Lawrence was the first research and development laboratory location in the U.S. for Argenta, an animal health company founded in New Zealand that invents, develops, and manufactures pharmaceuticals for both pets and farm animals. The Bioscience & Technology Business Center offered all that Argenta needed to put its R&D paws down in the North American market — available lab space, a central location close to a number of the company’s key clients, access to a world-class pharmacy school, and a home right in the middle of the KC Animal Health Corridor, the largest concentration of animal health companies in the world.
The Lawrence facility is solely focused on R&D, meaning they do product development, analytical method development and validation, and technology transfers. The latter has amounted to significant support to the Argenta US manufacturing operation at Fort Dodge, IA.
Co-locating with like-minded businesses creates a cluster of opportunity for the benefit of all.
“The BTBC staff has been fully involved in the setup of our facilities and has enabled us to tailor the facilities to meet our needs, as well as provide ongoing support,” said Joanna Pratt, a research and development scientist based at the BTBC. “They’re as invested in our success as we are. They want all their tenants to be successful. We’re hoping we can grow from here and we’re hoping we can do that with BTBC.”
Lawrence is a vibrant, progressive town and between the local amenities, proximity to Kansas City, an international airport, state parks, and many other entertainment venues, Lawrence is ideally situated to suit our needs.
And grow Argenta has. The company was founded in New Zealand in 2006 by Dr. Doug Cleverly. After developing products for the animal health market, he bought a manufacturing plant in Auckland to make those products. In 2008, Argenta bought AlcheraBio LLC in New Jersey, expanding the company’s capabilities by adding clinical research for clients. In 2011, Argenta set up shop in Lawrence with a U.S. expansion of its R&D team. And then in January 2016, Argenta started manufacturing in the U.S. after starting operations in Fort Dodge, Iowa, at the AML Riverside facility. The most recent expansion is into Europe, with the acquisition on April 1, 2017 of another manufacturing plant in Scotland now known as Argenta Dundee Limited.
“The company’s increasing global footprint means we can get closer to our clients’ intended markets and make products locally for local markets,” said Darrell Morgan, Argenta’s head of global pharmaceutical sciences.
Since Argenta opened its doors, the company has evolved from exclusively working on products for farm animals to improving the health and wellbeing of pets.
“Innovation in companion animal health has shifted from focusing on flea and tick treatments, to improving pain management, improving control of metabolic diseases, and increasingly allowing pets to live longer, healthier, and happier lives,” said Morgan. “And we’re excited to be able to innovate in that sector.”
In Lawrence, Morgan’s team of five can now directly support Argenta’s Iowa facility.
“One of the main goals that we would like as a company is to develop products in R&D and be able to take the right through to commercial manufacturing,” said Morgan. “So then everything that we do here could potentially then end up being manufactured in Iowa. That cuts down on lag time when it comes to solving potential issues, providing extra assistance, and just adding support for Argenta and its clients.”
Argenta is hoping to double the team in Lawrence, and the University of Kansas is a direct pipeline for both interns and staff. It also provides direct access to high tech equipment for Argenta.
“The KU Core Labs is literally across the road here and that’s fantastic…to be able to utilize those facilities and equipment means we can provide increased services to our customers in developing their products,” Pratt said.
All those factors make Lawrence and the BTBC the perfect place for Argenta.
“Lawrence is a vibrant, progressive town and between the local amenities, proximity to Kansas City, an international airport, state parks, and many other entertainment venues, Lawrence is ideally situated to suit our needs,” Pratt said. “Being based at the BTBC, we have direct access to modern facilities that are well maintained and a landlord who is as much invested in our success as we are.”