Contract Research Firm Plans to Add 1,100 Jobs in N.C.

Posted October 10, 2007 10:50 a.m. EDT
Updated October 10, 2007 5:48 p.m. EDT

— A Raleigh-based company that performs contract clinical research trials plans to expand its work force by nearly 1,100 employees by the end of 2011.

A state panel agreed Wednesday morning to give INC Research as much as $14.8 million in grants, provided the company meets certain job-creation requirements.

“These new jobs – close to 1,100 of them – will pay in excess of $62,000,” Gov. Mike Easley said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon. “In addition, they have very good benefits.”

The addition of contract research organization-related jobs is the third in less than a year for the Triangle region. Quintiles Research is adding more than 1,000 jobs and PRA International is relocating its headquarters to Raleigh from Virginia, bringing more than 400 jobs.

The influx is a significant boost to North Carolina’s growing biotech and life science industries, which currently numbers more than 48,000 workers and 450 companies.

“These jobs will strengthen our hold on the third spot in the nation for biotech-related jobs,” Easley said. North Carolina ranks behind California and Massachusetts in biotech-related employment.

The existence of so many life science firms and a pool of talented workers is a major reason why INC chose to expand in North Carolina rather than Texas and Pennsylvania, said INC Chief Executive Officer Jim Ogle at the news conference.

“One, North Carolina is a great place to do business,” Ogle said. “The second thing is that there is a real advantage in this flat world of ours in getting access to quality trained staff.” He also cited the economic incentive package as a reason.

INC’s headquarters is located in North Raleigh. Rather than build a new structure at this time, Ogle said the company is upfitting two floors in the six-floor building it occupies.

Privately held INC Research employs 362 people in Wake County. The deal calls for the company to invest at least $17 million and allows it to create some new positions in Charlotte and Wilmington.

INC already operates 27 offices in 35 countries. Its headquarters is located in North Raleigh.

According to media reports, the company has been considering going public with a stock offering valued at some $75 million.

INC Research has been on a fast track of growth. In April the firm acquired a CRO based in Pennsylvania. The company also recently opened an office in Switzerland and launched operations in India.

In March, INC formed a joint venture with GVK Biosciences, a CRO in India. Each owns 50 percent of the venture. The new firm is called INV GVK BIO Private Limited.

INC Research plans to run Phase 1 through Phase IV clinical trials in India for its pharmaceutical and biotech clients.

In December of 2005, INC expanded its footprint in Europe by acquiring NDDO Oncology, BV, a global CRO known as a leader in the field of anticancer drug development.

In 2002, INC acquired Vujaklija, one of the first CROs to service Central and Eastern Europe.

INC’s expansion reflects the growing strength of CROs in the Triangle.

Last December, after weighing competing bids from North Carolina and the Kansas City area, Quintiles founder and chairman Dennis Gillings decided to keep the company’s headquarters in the Triangle and add 1,000 jobs. The company will receive some $25 million in incentives.

In August, privately held Constella Group became part of SRA International. SRA, which is based in Virginia, acquired Constella for $185 million to incorporate health-care services to its portfolio.

AAIPharma, which is based in Wilmington and has an operation in the Triangle, recently emerged from bankruptcy as a privately held company. In May the company expanded its footprint in South America, purchasing the contract research organization Instituto de Pesquisa Clinica in Sao Paulo, Brazil. AAIPharma already had CRO operations in Argentina and Peru.

Other CROs in the Triangle include Cato Research and Cetero Research.