Brown's biotech startup to hire 225, invest $16M in HQ

December 4, 2017

LifeOmic Inc., the biotech startup founded a year ago by prominent local tech entrepreneur Don Brown, plans to spend more than $16 million to equip its headquarters at the IU Emerging Technology Center where it would hire 225 highly-paid employees over the next five years.

The Indianapolis-based company, which provides cloud storage to medical users, is seeking about $9.1 million in tax breaks and incentives to lease and equip 41,640 square feet of space at its offices at 351 W. 10th St., near the IUPUI campus.

According to filings with the city of Indianapolis, LifeOmic plans to hire 225 local employees by the end of 2023 with an average salary of $75 per hour, or roughly $156,000 per year. The company said it would retain seven employees making an average of $65 per hour, or about $135,000 per year.

Brown, the founder of former Indianapolis-based tech firms Software Artistry and Interactive Intelligence, started LifeOmic in December 2016. The company provides long-term storage, retrieval, analysis and clinical use of genomic and other digital information used in precision medicine.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. has offered LifeOmic more than $7.75 million in conditional tax credits and up to $600,000 in training grants based on the job-creation plans. The incentives hinge on the company’s ability to meet hiring goals.

Additionally, the Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development has recommended LifeOmic receive a 10-year partial tax abatement on $16 million in infotech infrastructure it intends to buy for the leased facility. That would save the company an estimated $766,000 over the abatement period. LifeOmic would pay more than $1 million in personal property taxes during that time, plus an estimated $125,400 annually after the abatement period.

Information from the IEDC says the company is expected to have 42 employees by 2018, 72 by 2019, 122 by 2020, 172 by 2021 and 232 by 2022.

Brown has invested about $20 million of his own money into LifeOmic, and he has hired several employees from his former companies to help run it. The company also has an office in Morrisville, North Carolina.

In September, the company formed an alliance with Indiana University and biomedical informatics research center Regenstrief Institute to advance precision medicine, the burgeoning field of using patient DNA to personalize disease treatment and prevention.

As part of the deal, the company said, LifeOmic would have license to "a broad range of intellectual property owned by IU and Regenstrief," and access to their faculty. In exchange, IU and Regenstrief get a minority ownership stake in LifeOmic.

Precision medicine tailors treatment based on an individual’s unique attributes coded in DNA. Each human cell contains about 30,000 protein-making genes, and those proteins can determine the effectiveness of certain treatments—from blood thinners to cancer-fighting drugs.

Over the past two decades, advances in science have significantly reduced the time and cost of mapping a person's DNA, but that's only half the precision-medicine battle. There are still challenges associated with storing, analyzing and making clinical decisions based on that data.

Officials said LifeOmic will collaborate with IU and Regenstrief to develop a "data commons," a single repository for storing genetic and other medical data for millions of patients. The platform will be accessible to researchers and clinicians around the state.

The Metropolitan Development Commission is expected consider the local incentives request at a meeting Wednesday afternoon.


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