Revenue growth FY 2017 to 2019: 424%
2019 revenue: $15.1 million
Light bulb moment: Bill Vincent had been working for the Indianapolis company Rimedion, which was developing a treatment for a rare hematologic disorder, when he realized something: “If you’re developing a therapeutic and you’ve got one therapeutic in your pipeline and it doesn’t work out, you’ve sunk,” he said. “But if you could be the supplier to all those companies that are developing therapeutics, then there’s a lot more opportunity. Maybe the upside isn’t as high, but the downside is a lot less.” That was the spark for Genezen Laboratories, which he founded in 2016.
The process: Scientists develop gene therapy—essentially replacing a defective gene in a cell with a functioning one—in their labs and test them on animals. When they’re ready to go into a clinical trial in humans, they need to have the therapies, called “viral vectors,” produced in a facility following U.S. Food and Drug Administration Current Good Manufacturing Practice regulations. That’s where Genezen comes in. It manufactures the therapeutic agent for the startups that hope to bring treatments to market.
Building up: Genezen started out doing its manufacturing at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, then at the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine in Toronto. But last year, after “the field exploded” and Genezen tripled its business, Vincent decided the company needed its own manufacturing facility. He decided to locate in Fishers, where the company is building a 25,000-square-foot facility with its own “clean room.” It is scheduled to be ready next spring.
Why manufacturing? Vincent said startups that develop gene therapies typically can’t afford to build manufacturing facilities for their first clinical trial. “And even later on, if you can spend your money either developing a therapy or building a facility to manufacture it for a trial, you’re better off spending your money developing the therapy and contracting the manufacturing to someone,” he said.
Growth expected: Vincent said gene therapy is such a burgeoning field—there are 10,000 orphan diseases, and scientists are now using gene therapy in cancer research—that he expects a 20%-25% annual growth rate the next five to 10 years. “When we hear about some of the therapies we work on that are getting approved or some of the stories of the patients who are treated with these, it’s inspiring,” he said. “There’s so much opportunity and growth. We’re going to continue to grow for the foreseeable future.”•
Check out more of IBJ’s ranking of Indy’s fastest-growing companies.