Beacon Pharmaceutical Jupiter is expected to bring more than 100 jobs to the area when it opens its facility off Indiantown Road near Florida’s Turnpike in 2021.
Officials hope Beacon and those workers will help cement a thriving biotech hub in northern Palm Beach County. To do that, Beacon’s leaders say they will use their business acumen to help ease the administrative load for life science companies moving to the area.
“We want them really to concentrate on the research,” COO Christian Daniel said. “We want them to concentrate on what they do best.”
Beacon hopes to court 50 to 70 such companies that it will advise, and possibly invest in, at its 160,000-square-foot accelerator facility planned for just west of Florida’s Turnpike. Leaders hope to open in 2021.
Those companies will likely focus on the realm of preventative and regenerative medicine, said chairwoman Nancy Torres Kaufman, meaning treatments designed to ward off maladies ahead of time and those that help re-establish healthy bodily functions.
“We want to be able to prevent the diseases before they become a problem,” Torres Kaufman said.
She added that Beacon also wants to target companies researching treatments for aging-related health problems and developing “disease-altering” intellectual property.
One way Beacon hopes to help companies developing those therapies is in-house manufacturing for clinical trials. There also will be office space, including wet and dry labs, across three floors.
“They can cut right through clinical trials and get data as soon as possible,” Torres Kaufman said. “It makes them cost-efficient.”
A recent news release from the company highlights items they say could be developed there: stem cell therapies, 3D-printed organs, gene therapies and treatments to boost T-cell counts.
The areas Beacon is targeting are generally hot for development, said Matthias Haury, COO of Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience.
“Whatever is popular in science, people are getting easy money and it’s also easy to spit out a company,” Haury said.
Research specifics aside, Mark Emalfarb said Beacon’s affluence is one of its biggest assets.
Beacon Pharmaceutical Jupiter is a wholly owned affiliate of Beacon Capital, a family wealth-management office that has dabbled in research and development for about 10 years, Torres Kaufman said.
It has also invested in textiles, real estate and fashion, but Kaufman said Beacon is focusing on biotechnology.
Emalfarb, the CEO and founder of Jupiter-based biotech company Dyadic International, said he’s already spoken to Torres Kaufman about out-licensing some of his company’s technology to Beacon.
“They have different pedigrees. And different strengths,” he said. “And one of those strengths is the money that they bring and the facilities they offer.”
Beacon Capital has in the past planned multiple forays into pharmaceuticals. News releases from 2018 indicate it intended to build a startup incubator in the New York City area and a database connecting “Right to Try” treatments to patients.
The New York plan was scrapped when Palm Beach County officials courted them south, CEO Philippe Gastone said. The Right to Try proposal — which describes unapproved, experimental drugs that certain terminally ill patients can use — similarly never came to fruition because the plan became too complex and the Right to Try movement was too controversial, Torres Kaufman said.
Haury agreed that a company with capital at its disposal to prop up research is a welcomed addition to Jupiter. They’ll have to “have a good nose” when assessing the companies to partner with, he added.
“It’s always a risk business what they’re doing,” Haury said. “I honestly base my confidence more in the (Business Development Board of Palm Beach County), who has been vetting them and attracting them. I think the BDB has a very successful history in building the life science market here in the county.”
Beacon has yet to formally sign a deal with any of the companies and Gastone said he and his colleagues will intensely scrutinize applicants. Torres Kaufman said they want those with a market capitalization between $30-100 million.
They will actually invest in only the most promising of those companies, Gastone said.
Emalfarb commended Jupiter officials for courting Beacon. The town offered the company a hefty package of incentives that include up to $600,000 in job creation payments, a lease-to-own land deal and a $500,000 loan guarantee.
It was Emalfarb’s dream in the mid-2000s to open a biotech incubator in Abacoa. But the plans were shelved before the Dyadic founder was ousted amid allegations he hid details of tax evasion by its Chinese unit, claims he denied. He returned shortly thereafter.
“I think it’s a great thing what they’re doing and it’s a decade too late, but in the meantime it’s here and happening,” Emalfarb said.
Palm Beach Post