“We’ve seen an amazing amount of interest and investment from life science companies in just the past year,” Fishers’ Mayor Scott Fadness said, and the city is poised to close a half billion dollars in life science deals in the next few months.
Global interest in Fishers, Indiana is based on the convergence of capital, opportunity and global economics. “There’s a belief throughout the industry that the first to market owns that market, so companies have a desire to increase their capacity and infrastructure globally, and that can happen easily in central Indiana,” Fadness pointed out.
Fishers, part of the greater Indianapolis metropolitan area, is an attractive option for many firms that are looking to expand.
The lower cost of locating and operating facilities in the Midwest is one factor, but the access to human capital is even more important. With a population of approximately 100,000 people and a median age of just under 36 years, Fishers’ workforce is highly educated. Approximately 60% of Fishers’ residents have a college degree, and nearly 25% have a graduate degree.
Many of Fishers’ residents work with biotech giants Eli Lilly, Roche and Labcorp (formerly Covance) or the many young biopharma companies in the area. Increasing numbers are working in Fishers’ own growing biotech sector.
In the overall biotech ecosystem, the City of Fishers is building its position as a strong biopharma manufacturing cluster. “Where Fishers will excel is in contract manufacturing, contract fulfilment, and contract research and development,” Fadness said. That prediction is based on the convergence of life science expertise and the area’s long history of advanced manufacturing.
In just the past few months, Italy’s Stevanato Group, a drug containment, drug delivery and diagnostic services company, announced it is investing $145 million to build state-of-the-art production lines to manufacture its EZ-Fill syringes and vials. INCOG Biopharma Services, a contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO), is investing $60 million to build its new headquarters in Fishers and to create up to 150 new jobs. Quantigen Biosciences, a specialty contract research organization (CRO), is investing $2.5 million to expand its state-of-the-art facilities and add 30 new jobs by the end of 2023.
In early 2021, Genezen, a cell and gene therapy CDMO, announced plans to expand from its initial space and invest more than $50 million to develop its own facilities, including laboratories and clean rooms. In 2020, Bangs Laboratories, a leading microsphere manufacturer, also doubled the size of its facilities in Fishers.
Many of the new jobs resulting from these expansions are being filled by graduates from nearby universities. Purdue University, Indiana University, Ball State University, Butler University and the University of Notre Dame are all within a three-hour drive of Fishers. Therefore, companies not only can access a well-educated workforce, but can collaborate conveniently with leading researchers in biology, chemistry, engineering, manufacturing and other disciplines.
Of course, biopharma companies need more than human capital to succeed. They also need access to funding. The presence of Lilly and Roche, through their venture funds, suggests that bio-focused capital is available, Fadness said. Additionally, some 25 other venture capital firms operate in the Indianapolis area, including BioCrossroads, which specifically fosters the biotech community, and VisionTech Partners, which specializes in early-stage micro-investing, as well as more general venture firms focused on medtech or healthcare. None-the-less, attracting additional financing companies to Fishers is an ongoing concern for Fadness.
Many of the start-up companies working with such firms need business and operating space, too. Fishers is prepared for that. “We have the state’s largest co-working facility,” Fadness said. Launch Fishers features 52,000 square feet of co-working space and more than 600 members building high-impact companies built around innovation. Through Launch Fishers, they can access dedicated or informal working space, attend networking functions, or simply meet over coffee to cross-pollinate ideas.
While the City of Fishers offers what Fadness called “all the usual incentives” to locate here that companies, it also offers something more: a city government that is committed to doing its part to help those organizations succeed. It is proactive, taking the steps needed today to ensure a high-tech future for tomorrow.
The 75 acres of land the city purchased for a life science park is just one example. “We started our focus on technology and entrepreneurship several years ago, realizing we needed all elements of the biotech ecosystem, from start-ups to large-scale organizations, as well as the related institutions and infrastructure to support our industries,” Fadness said. “Therefore, we recently took the aggressive step of buying land for a life sciences business park and then to put it in a position to be easily available for companies.” Consequently, many of the barriers to development have been removed.
Beyond that, he continued, “We have a history of building meaningful partnerships with the companies here. We find unique opportunities so the companies know we are eager to work with them, and that we’re creative.” Sometimes includes making introductions to enhance networking, or helping prospective companies locate temporary space.
The plans Fishers put in motion to grow a vibrant life sciences industry are on the cusp of being realized. By the end of 2021, Fadness predicted, “That will be what we are, not merely what we aspire to be.” Fishers’ biotech sector is growing rapidly, based upon companies that have assessed multiple locations and decided to call Fishers ‘home.’