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This is a fermentation suite at Aldevron's location in Madison, Wisconsin, which will double its capacity in an expansion project expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2019. Aldevron's Madison location opened in 2009. Photo special to The Forum

Aldevron’s Madison facility will double biotechnology production capacity

FARGO — Aldevron has announced a significant expansion of its ability to produce proteins and enzymes to meet the demands of the booming biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries.

The Fargo-based company now has a fermentation capacity of 1,000 liters and plans to “significantly increase” its manufacturing capability in Madison, Wis.

“What’s driving this is the cell and gene therapy market,” said Tom Foti, a vice president and general manager who heads Aldevron’s operations in Madison. “A new class of proteins is getting good results.”

The expansion of the $8 million biomanufacturing facility will more than double manufacturing space and accommodate up to 60 employees. Aldevron now has 30 employees in Madison.

The new fermentation capacity in Madison will support gene and cell therapy studies that require large amounts of plasmid DNA, recombinant proteins and gene-editing enzymes. Plasmid DNA is a circular piece of DNA that researchers use to carry a gene into a cell.

The expansion adds almost 10,000 square feet of manufacturing space, with an option for another 5,000 square feet on the same floor.

The added space provides room for a 300-liter fermenter that will be used to culture insect and mammal cells, and allows for significantly increased manufacturing capacity throughout.

“Increasing our fermentation capabilities is a direct result of what the market is demanding, and this expansion is a further commitment to our clients and our staff to better serve our industry,” Michael Chambers, Aldevron’s founder and chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Aldevron’s Madison location, situated in the University of Wisconsin Research Park, is observing its 10th anniversary. It focuses on designing and developing recombinant proteins, which are proteins encoded by a gene.

Design work on the expansion project has started and is expected to be in operation by the fourth quarter.

Foti, a Milwaukee native and NDSU graduate, contacted Chambers and Ballantyne in 2009 after he and five others left a biotechnology firm to start their own. Foti proposed that the new operation become part of Aldevron.

“It’s been a great collaboration with them,” Foti said. “It’s really a shared accomplishment.”

The firm’s expansion is driven not only by the dramatic growth of biotechnology and biopharmaceuticals, Foti said, but also by the ties the firm has cultivated within the industry.

“We’ve been seeding this market with good quality relationships for 20 years,” he said.

Last fall, Aldevron opened a new 70,000-square-foot building, which cost $30 million to build and equip, with four production lines at 4055 41st Ave. S. in Fargo. When the building opened in September, it housed almost 200 employees, with room for about 270.