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Why global biosimulation company Certara is relocating to Radnor, PA

The company was drawn to the Philly area by the strong culture of its acquisition Pinnacle 21, based in Blue Bell, PA.

Inside Certara's new Radnor, PA headquarters. (Courtesy Certara)

This article is sponsored by Certara and was reviewed before publication. Certara is a Technical.ly Company Builder client.

Nearly two and a half years after acquiring clinical data SaaS vendor Pinnacle 21, the publicly traded company Certara (nasdaq:CERT) is moving its HQ from Princeton, NJ, to Radnor, PA — just down the road from Pinnacle 21’s old Blue Bell office.

Slated for an April opening, Certara’s new HQ — one of more than 20 offices the international biosimulation company has across the globe — is a symbol of a productive partnership between the two organizations, according to Max Kanevsky, CTO at Certara and founder and CEO of Pinnacle 21.

It’s an opportunity to expand both companies’ footprint within the local community and industry, he said.

“With this move, we anticipate tapping into the rich talent pool of engineers in the Philly region, fostering closer relationships with local clients in Philadelphia and Wilmington and actively participating in regional events,” Kanevsky said. “This shift positions us to better engage with the community and attract top talent to drive innovation within our organization,” he added.

Explore careers at Certara

That includes in-person gatherings. Pinnacle 21 has long been a major player within the Philly tech meetup world.

In fact, Philly Java Users’ Group (JUG) already has a meeting scheduled at the relocated Certara HQ in April, per Martin Snyder, VP of engineering at Certara and Pinnacle 21. The company also plans to host other external events in the new 100-person space.

Certara’s Radnor HQ will build on the robust workplace environment Pinnacle 21 developed in its Blue Bell office, Snyder said, citing the positive atmosphere fostered by the company’s policy of voluntary in-office work for all employees — as opposed to a return-to-work mandate.

The entrance to an office building with trees and plants lining the sidewalk in front of large glass doors.

The entrance to Certara’s new office. (Courtesy Certara)

“Everything really just comes down to individual people. The more leaders you can get using an office regularly, the more reasons there are for other people, including other leaders and aspiring leaders, to go into the office,” Snyder said. “A big part of the value of an in-office culture is being part of unscheduled conversations, and there are plenty of opportunities in this office to be connected and have conversations with individuals across teams and in high-ranking positions.”

Launching a brand new space is not the norm for the industry right now, he noted.

“As a net, tech companies are probably shrinking their total office footprint around the world but, at least here in the Philadelphia area, we’re able to expand it a little bit,” Snyder said.

Philip Johnston, director of product at Certara and Pinnacle 21, said Pinnacle 21 has maintained its “nimble, friendly and collegial” culture throughout the acquisition. The Blue Bell office still has the feel of a start-up, he said — just one with the resources of a larger, international company like Certara.

Pinnacle 21 intentionally preserved its culture throughout the acquisition, according to Kanevsky, the CTO. Pinnacle 21 leadership shared its successful engagement strategies and cultural practices with the wider Certara team — a list that included initiatives such as hackathons, performance management frameworks, established meeting rituals, effective communication and documentation through platforms like Atlassian and Slack, as well as career development programs.

“The collaborative approach from both sides has facilitated a seamless integration of cultures,” Kanevsky said, “allowing Pinnacle 21 to sustain its sense of community while leveraging Certara’s support and resources for continued growth and innovation.”

Built-in professional development: ‘The scale of the opportunity is immense’

The acquisition has broadened the scope of the original Pinnacle 21 team’s work.

Certara’s proprietary model-informed drug development software and services support the product R&D pipelines of more than 2,300 clients. Users include leading biopharmaceutical companies, academic institutions and regulatory agencies across 70 countries.

There was little to no attrition after acquisition, and Pinnacle 21 team members now working on Certara’s larger product suite have had the opportunity to develop their professional skills — including Johnston, the director of product. Instead of focusing on Pinnacle 21’s traditional footprint only, he now oversees or is involved with the progress of more than a dozen offerings.

“A lot of us were organically forced to skill up, because we’re not just working on our silo product,” Johnston said. “It’s giving us the ability to impact hundreds of thousands of users across thousands of clients in almost every country. The scale of the opportunity is immense.”

For Johnston, the success of the Certara acquisition is another milestone in his journey at Pinnacle 21. Four years ago, he was in Columbus, Ohio, with a packed U-Haul and a job waiting for him in Texas when Kanevsky called and offered him a full-time position.

Johnston immediately signed the work agreement, resigned from the other position and drove his U-Haul east instead of south.

“I haven’t looked back since then,” Johnston said. “It’s been amazing to see the growth of this company over the years, especially the acquisition. Certara has been really good to us in honoring what we’ve built and helping double down on that investment so that everything across Certara can benefit from the same level of excellence and customer centricity that we practiced at Pinnacle 21.”

Explore careers at Certara

Companies: Certara

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