ASHEVILLE, N.C. – A new biological laboratory services company named f(x) Immune Co., recruited with help from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, will open for business in Asheville this month.
The company is to offer laboratory services and development support for member companies of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. It’s opening in wet labs in the Technology Commercialization Center at the Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College’s business acceleration site in Enka.
Officials of f(x) Immune and its parent company, Flow Applications Inc., of St. Louis, Mo., and McDonough, Ga., have been in discussions with representatives of NCBiotech and Asheville-area economic developers for nearly two years.
The decision to set up shop in Asheville was announced last month by NCBiotech, the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County and A-B Tech.
The co-founders of f(x) are Michael Hickey, an Illinois businessman, and Joseph Martinez, Ph.D., of suburban Atlanta. They are both moving to Asheville, bringing a combined 60 years of experience to the region’s life science community.
Hickey and Martinez said they expect the Asheville lab to employ six lab technicians during the first three years of operation, and invited applicants to email resumes and cover letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.
They said f(x) will give priority to lab techs with associate degrees in programs accredited by the national Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute, and especially to graduates of the former A-B Tech Biotechnology Associate Program in Applied Science.
“Mike Hickey and Joe Martinez are great additions to the growing network of life science executives in Western North Carolina,” said Dale Carroll, executive director of the NCBiotech Western Office, in Asheville. “Thanks to the EDC and A-B Tech for their outstanding support on f(x) and other projects.”
Hickey and Martinez said they chose the Western North Carolina site for numerous reasons, including the availability of the incubator and web lab space, the available workforce and the EDC’s strategic focus on science and technology jobs and knowledge based entrepreneurship.
“The EDC, A-B Tech and the Biotech Center teamed up to do an exceptional job facilitating our visits to the community,” said Hickey. “We are confident that the Asheville operations will meet our growth objectives in 2014 and beyond.”
The f(x) recruitment is a success story EDC officials are attributing to the Asheville 5×5 campaign, a $3 million, five-year strategic plan launched in May 2011 to create jobs through company recruitment, retention and expansion.
It’s amassing public and private investment to create 5,000 new jobs in the Asheville area by mid-2016 in five target clusters: advanced manufacturing, science and technology, knowedge-based entrepreneurship, arts and culture, and health care.
“The f(x) announcement shows the community’s commitment and ability to compete for the science and technology jobs of the next generation,” said EDC Board Chair Paul Szurek. “The partnership of A-B Tech and NC Biotech Center is very valuable in meeting the ambitious goals of the AVL 5×5 plan.”