The Jupiter Town Council on Feb. 5 unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding with a pharmaceutical company that wants to build a $44 million life science hub in the city.

Officials from Beacon Pharmaceuticals were unhand to unveil renderings of a facility that would be about 150,000 square feet in the first phase, with a potential expansion to 200,000 square feet. It would include a clinical research organization (CRO) focused on new “right to try drugs,” an accelerator to host 50 life science companies in the first year, and a drug cell manufacturing center. The federal “Right to Try” Act was passed in 2018 and allows terminally ill patients access to investigational drugs.

Company officials said they already have 38 companies from around the world identified as likely candidates for their accelerator. These startup life science companies would pay for office space, lab usage, legal and administrative services, regulatory assistance, and more. Beacon Pharma would invest in some of these companies.

The first phase of the facility would have a three-story accelerator building of about 60,000 square feet with 30-foot ceilings. It would include lecture halls, lounges, a rooftop fitness center and sleep pods. The one-story manufacturing building would allow the local companies to produce their products nearby.

Company officials said the goal of their CRO is to dramatically expand patient access to clinical trials.

Jupiter Mayor Todd Wodraska said the potential arrival of Beacon Pharmaceuticals was one of the biggest developments for the town since it landed the Scripps Research Institute in 2006. With Scripps, follow nonprofit the Max Planck Institute, and Florida Atlantic University, Jupiter could finally have a major private industry partner for its biotech cluster.

The company worked with the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County on its relocation and incentive deal.

Beacon Pharmaceutical is seeking a 30-year lease for the town’s 9-acre site on the north side of Indiantown Road and the west side of the Florida’s Turnpike ramp. This is one exit north of Scripps and FAU.

Beacon Pharmaceutical would pay annual rent to the town based on the appraised market value of the property, with rent set to increase annually. The town has yet to appraise the site. The company also wants an option to purchase the property during the lease.

The company expects to create 200 jobs with average salaries over $70,000, according to a town memo. The economic incentive agreement said it must create at least 137 jobs to qualify. The town could pay Beacon Pharmaceuticals up to $598,827 over 10 years based on the number of jobs it creates, the salaries it pays, and whether employees are town residents. The maximum annual award would start at $108,877 in the first year, and decrease 10 percent annually.

In addition, the town would provide a $500,000 loan collateral guarantee to the company. The town could recover this money, with interest, should Beacon Pharmaceutical repay its loan.

Now that the memorandum of understanding has been approved, town staff will conduct due diligence on Beacon Pharmaceuticals and work towards drafting a lease agreement.

South Florida Business Journal

Brian Bandell

Senior Reporter, South Florida Business Journal