Biotechnology / Business development / Science / Startups

Why French biotech company AdipoPharma chose Pittsburgh as its US HQ

The new site will act as the home base for its clinical trials. Chairman James Nolan said the region is receptive to life sciences companies, with institutions such as CMU and Pitt ripe for partnerships.

Pittsburgh from beyond. (Photo by Federated Art via Pexels)
Coming to a former hospital near you, Pittsburgh is adding a new life sciences company to its growing collection.

The French AdipoPharma has chosen Pittsburgh as the location for its US headquarters, per a Monday announcement. Coming on the heels of securing an undisclosed amount in Series A funding from Newton Biocapital II, the company’s leaders say the new office is a step forward in offering a new diabetes treatment option to patients all over the world. AdipoPharma is developing a drug that treats insulin resistance in diabetes patients, and will begin its US clinical trials later this year.

Since its founding in 2022, the company has been praised by the scientific community for crafting an approach that focuses on treating the root of diabetes as opposed to managing the symptoms, per a press release. At a to-be-determined date, AdipoPharma plans to transform what was previously AGH Suburban Hospital in Bellevue into an innovation center. The location is also home to AlphaLab Health’s February 2022-launched ​​lab and startup coworking space.

James Nolan, chairman and chief business officer of AdipoPharma, will be leading the company’s Pittsburgh operations. He told via email that Pittsburgh was a natural choice due to its reputation as a biotech hub.

“The city has an abundance of research universities and thriving life sciences community. It’s also incredibly supportive to start-ups like AdipoPharma,” Nolan said. “Pittsburgh has a wealth of resources and scientific minds necessary for a company like AdipoPharma to grow.”

In addition to being the company’s US corporate office, the new HQ will act as the homebase for its clinical trials. Nolan added that although he anticipated including around 30 experts in the clinical research, the company was still forecasting how many Pittsburgh employees it would have. In the meantime, AdioPharma has already found partners in Dr. Jeff Cohen at the HighMark Innovation Center and Ray Miller at DLA Piper, as well as access to the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.

AdipoPharma isn’t the first life sciences company to be drawn to the Steel City. Notably, in August, it was announced that biotech giant ElevateBio would anchor the new Pitt BioForge Biomanufacturing Center at the Hazelwood Green innovation hub.

And the region’s life sciences reputation is growing: Pittsburgh ranked 11th in JLL’s 2022 Life Sciences Research Outlook & Cluster Rankings, after not even ranking the previous year. Pittsburgh stood out due to the billions in funding it’s been awarded and long-term outcomes for local life sciences companies, as well as the talent coming out of local universities, JLL Managing Director Jason Stewart told at the time.

“There’s just a lot of faith, nationally, in Pittsburgh’s ability to foster this research and to fund the research,” Stewart said. “The University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center are more than just a name. They are truly nationally respected institutions known for life science and engineering research.”

The leaders of AdipoPharma — with funding in hand, a team of experienced researchers on its scientific advisory board, and a new city to operate from — are eagerly anticipating expanding in 2023.

“The establishment of our U.S. headquarters and the Series A funding are major steps forward for AdipoPharma and our quest to treat insulin resistance, the primary cause of Type 2 diabetes,” AdipoPharma President Marion said in a release.

Atiya Irvin-Mitchell is a 2022-2023 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Heinz Endowments.

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