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Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and Crown Bioscience Inc. CEO Jean-Pierre Wery announced Wednesday that the company will establish a pharmaceutical research and development facility at the New Iberia Research Center. The expansion project for the global drug discovery and development company will enable CrownBio to advance treatments for cardiovascular and metabolic disease research (CVMD research).

CrownBio will coordinate its research efforts with NIRC, an affiliate of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, which specializes in the management of nonhuman primates for applied and basic research. At the research center, CrownBio will make a $1 million capital investment and create 10 new direct jobs with an average annual salary of $70,000, plus benefits. Louisiana Economic Development estimates the project will result in an additional 14 new indirect jobs.

“This project provides an excellent example of how Louisiana’s higher education system is leveraging its strengths to attract new investment in bioscience to our state,” Gov. Edwards said. “Sophisticated pharmaceutical research performed in a sensitive and progressive manner is essential for our state, nation and world to combat illnesses and diseases that continually pose new challenges. We’re proud that this important work will be taking place in our state and will build upon the resources of UL Lafayette and the New Iberia Research Center.”

Headquartered in Santa Clara, California, Crown Bioscience formed in 2006 and operates research campuses in China, the U.K., San Diego and Indianapolis. The company’s leadership — including Executive Chairman and Chief Technology Officer Guo-Liang Yu, CEO Jean-Pierre Wery and President and Chief Strategy Officer Alex Wu, possesses decades of experience in the global biotech and pharmaceutical industry. The New Iberia Research Center was crucial in the company’s decision to come to Louisiana.

“We chose to expand in Louisiana, and specifically the NIRC, because of the growing biomedical science community there and the operational excellence that exists at NIRC,” Wery said. “It was important for us to be located at a facility with multiple research capabilities that could harmonize well with the various efficacy and model development studies conducted by CrownBio. We are confident Louisiana, and NIRC, is the place for CrownBio to grow as we engage in the next leading phase of CVMD research that brings drugs to the clinical phase. We are very excited to contribute positively to the economic growth of the New Iberia region.”

The UL Lafayette research center in New Iberia will enable CrownBio to expand its research and grow beyond the capacity it had in North Carolina, company officials said. The company will begin operating at the New Iberia Research Center in January and grow its research services in Louisiana over the next several years. On Jan. 5, the NIRC will host an event welcoming Crown Bioscience to Louisiana.

“Our center in New Iberia has the research and analytical expertise and infrastructure in place to assist CrownBio to respond to the needs of its global clientele very quickly,” said NIRC Director François Villinger. “We are committed to incubating and growing businesses in the biomedical arena, supported by the strength of UL Lafayette’s research in life sciences.”

The Iberia Industrial Development Foundation, One Acadiana and LED began working with Crown Bioscience on a potential project earlier this year. In addition to negotiating a facility lease at the New Iberia Research Center, the economic development partners provided project guidance and assistance that will include the company’s utilization of the state’s Quality Jobs Program.

“We are excited that CrownBio has chosen to invest in Iberia Parish at the New Iberia Research Center,” said Iberia Parish President M. Larry Richard. “We are certain that great business investments like this will go a long way to grow and diversify economic opportunities for our citizens.”

“Crown BioScience is a respected, growing company whose cutting-edge programs in disease research are well-known, and we appreciate their decision to invest in Iberia Parish,” said President and CEO Mike Tarantino of the Iberia Industrial Development Foundation. “The NIRC has long played an integral role in global medical research and development, and we are certain that this partnership will ultimately result in greater success for both Crown BioScience and the NIRC, as well as Iberia Parish. This is yet another indication that Iberia Parish is open for business.”

“This announcement exemplifies the Acadiana Region’s continued effort to diversify our economy to provide new high-wage jobs for Acadiana families,” said President and CEO Jason El Koubi of One Acadiana. “The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s New Iberia Research Center is a tremendous asset for the region, and this partnership demonstrates how we are leveraging Acadiana’s cutting-edge research and engineering capabilities to grow our economy.”

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