ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - A biotechnology company that develops treatments for cancer and infectious diseases announced Thursday that it is moving to St. Petersburg, eventually adding about 280 jobs.
IRX Therapeutics In.c, which is relocating from New York City starting at the end of the year, has already licensed a broad patent portfolio from the University of South Florida, where early technology was developed. Under a letter of intent signed by the parties involved, IRX and the Florida High Tech Corridor Council will fund $2.5 million in research to be performed at USF for developing therapeutic vaccines and clinical trials.
"This is exactly what ought to be happening in St. Pete and in Florida," said Gov. Rick Scott, who attended the announcement. "Florida is second in the nation in biotech research facilities."
IRX has raised $90 million in capital for research, manufacturing and clinical development. The company's lead product, IRX-2, is an active immunotherapy designed to treat cancer by restoring the patient's immune system and enabling an immune attack on tumors.
IRX will initially employ 40 people and within five years intends to fill more than 280 positions with an anticipated average salary of more than $90,000 - more than double the average wage in Pinellas County. Those figures don't include additional jobs that will be created for commercial-scale manufacturing and a potential product launch.
The relocation package, approved at state and local levels, includes $600,000 from the state's innovation fund; $275,000 from Pinellas County Economic Development; a $275,000 credit toward land owned by the City of St. Petersburg; and $50,000 from the USF Research Foundation. All cash incentives will be repaid by IRX as the company meets specified revenue targets.
"It is a great day in St. Petersburg," said Rick Baker, a USF vice president who led the effort to bring IRX to Florida. The successful effort helps USF's stature as a major research facility as well as an asset to the local economy, he said.
John W. Hadden II, CEO of IRX, called USF "an outstanding partner" in his company's progress.
"It's not just jobs here," he said. "We lead the world in biotechnology, and we will continue to be competitive internationally."
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