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Avantor and BioTek expand; labfolder joins Merck Accelerator

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CENTER VALLEY, Pa.—Avantor, a global supplier of ultra-high-purity materials for customers across the life sciences and advanced technologies sectors, has opened a new research center in Bridgewater, N.J., to help biopharmaceutical and pharmaceutical customers with a full range of upstream and downstream processes, from gene to protein expression through final formulation and drug delivery.
With nearly 27,000 square feet of laboratory space, Avantor’s Bridgewater Innovation Center features state-of-the-art life-sciences and advanced materials research tools, including cleanroom facilities, multiple mass spectrometers, specially constructed bioreactors, particle size analyzers and more.
“Our facility is distinct in that we are combining more than 100 years of expertise producing high-quality, high-purity cGMP materials with a cross-discipline of research and capabilities, all under one roof to address today’s customized drug development processes,” said Ashish Kulkarni, Avantor’s executive vice president and chief technology officer.
“The Bridgewater Innovation Center houses multiple research platforms to address issues such as facilitating recombinant protein engineering, protein expression, purification and trace materials characterization,” added Brian Beyer, global director of R&D and bioprocessing applications. “We also have research platforms to investigate new excipient formulations to enhance API stability.”
The facility will also be used to conduct research and development on electronics materials, with chemistries that require purity at the parts-per-trillion level.
“Our experience in controlling trace metals in chemistries for semiconductor applications will also contribute to our research into the impact of trace metals in biopharmaceutical and pharmaceutical applications,” said Beyer.
“Similar to a contract research organization, we have broad capabilities to work with customers and serve as an agile extension of their own R&D departments,” said Kulkarni. “Our goal is to help them drive collaborative development and product commercialization. We’re excited to use this facility to continue accelerating innovation for our global life sciences and advanced technologies customers.”
Avantor’s Bridgewater Innovation Center is housed in the New Jersey Center of Excellence, a 110-acre life sciences campus centrally located in the northeast U.S. bioscience technology corridor. Approximately 3,000 med-tech companies are situated within a 100-mile radius. The campus is also close to major transportation routes and institutions such as Princeton University, Rutgers University and the New Jersey Institute of Technology.

BioTek advances Middle East and North Africa business
WINOOSKI, Vt.—As part of its continuing growth acceleration, BioTek Instruments recently opened the BioTek Middle East office, located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. The office will serve as the central hub for BioTek’s activities and growth in the Middle East and North Africa region, and will be headed by Divya Galani, regional application and product manager. The office—and all sales, marketing and distribution strategies in the region—will be overseen by Steven Fisher, managing director for Asia Pacific and Middle East.
“With this timely investment, BioTek will more closely engage with, and expand, our customer base in the Middle East and North Africa,” noted Fisher. “By doing so, those researchers benefit, not only from our remarkable life science instrumentation, but also our legendary customer support.”

Merck Accelerator welcomes labfolder
DARMSTADT, Germany—The Berlin startup company labfolder GmbH, which is developing an electronic lab notebook, was selected out of 475 applicants worldwide to participate in the Accelerator program of the science and technology company Merck KGaA in Darmstadt for three months, starting as of Sept. 4.
As a result, labfolder will benefit from support, coaching and consulting through the Merck Group’s global Accelerator. The company’s electronic lab notebook is intended to help researchers around the world manage ever-larger and more complex data sets more efficiently, replacing the traditional paper lab notebook. While Germany’s Merck (not to be confused with U.S.-based Merck & Co.) is a leading science and technology company in healthcare and life sciences, it also operates in the area of performance materials and, in that field, Merck manufactures liquid crystals for screens, as well as laboratory materials.
Together with six other startups, labfolder came out on top out of 475 applicants from all over the world. Simon Bungers, co-founder and CEO of labfolder, said: “We are thrilled to be included in the program. It not only opens doors for us to the research-based pharmaceuticals industry, but also to the world of laboratory materials manufacturers. This combination within the Merck Group is ideal for labfolder.”
He continued, “At Merck, they know how to work in the laboratory, but they also know how to design and sell products for laboratories and what those labs need. We are also open to partnerships with laboratory equipment suppliers, such as with our SmartLAB application, and Merck is a great partner for us. They can help us to make our product more attractive from a laboratory supplier’s point of view, and at the same time, they can test our product directly in Merck’s labs from a laboratory user’s perspective.”
Munya Chivasa, head of the Merck Accelerator program, explains why Merck chose labfolder out of the multitude of applicants: “The labfolder team, much like Merck, is focused on developing solutions and products to help researchers succeed. We are excited to work with them through the Accelerator program to explore further developments.”
To ensure that as many as possible of the current 20 employees of labfolder can take advantage of and experience the Accelerator program, the company will be sending two to three employees at a time from Berlin to spend a certain number of days over the three-month program in Darmstadt, where part of the Merck Accelerator is located in the Group’s Innovation Center, which was opened in 2015. The other part of the Accelerator is located in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.

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