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Inslee: State’s investment in Vancouver’s AbSci is money well-spent

In the brick Hudson Building in downtown Vancouver, biotechnology company AbSci is experiencing massive growth.

It’s expanded to take over the whole third floor. It has 43 employees, and it plans to hire 11 more by the end of the year. And it’s raised over $33 million in investment funding in three years.

AbSci celebrated its growth on Thursday at the company’s headquarters. In attendance was Gov. Jay Inslee, who gave AbSci $200,000 from his Strategic Reserve Fund to relocate to Vancouver in 2016, when the company had 18 full-time employees.

“I could not think Washingtonians have ever made a better investment than the $200,000 we’ve made to help the growth,” Inslee said.

The company’s mission is to help its business partners get more drugs to market that they couldn’t otherwise, said CEO Sean McClain. It also lowers the costs of drugs like insulin (in some cases by 75 percent) and reduces the time it takes to get drugs to market by one to two years.

“This is an answer to a national crisis,” Inslee said. “The whole country … realizes that we have a crisis in the ability to finance the unbelievable technologies that we can create. (The therapeutic drugs) are unbelievably brilliant and unbelievably expensive. There’s a bill in the state Legislature this year that I hope to sign that has some ways to reduce the procurement cost of insulin. But the real long-term real solution to this is in AbSci’s future to really bring down the cost.”

Kole Krieger, senior director of business development and marketing, said the governor’s investment was the reason AbSci moved to Vancouver.

“It’s really closely tied that the governor and AbSci can help combat high drug prices,” he said.

McClain said that AbSci increased revenue by 800 percent from 2018 to 2019, and it’s on track to increase revenue by 300 percent in 2020.

The company is now considering expanding inside the Hudson Building, said Matthew Weinstock, chief of staff.

“We’re bringing on new people just about every day,” he said.

Inslee’s visit to AbSci was part of a larger tour of Vancouver. He also visited SEH America’s career-connected learning program and Vancouver Public Schools’ iTech Preparatory to give a keynote speech for a dedication ceremony.


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