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Home COVID-19 test maker Ellume plans 1,500-job manufacturing center in Frederick

The Australian company is opening a flagship operation in the U.S. It's the latest in a series of big biotech developments for the state.

Let's take a closer look at life sciences in the region. (Photo via
Updated to add context about the move and location of the facility. (3:17 p.m., 5/10/21)

Maryland’s burgeoning biotech sector got another boost on Monday, as Australian company Ellume announced it will enter the U.S. by way of Frederick County.

The digital diagnostics company will set up its first U.S. manufacturing operation just outside of Frederick as it seeks to gain a foothold for its COVID-19 home test. It comes after the company signed a $231.8 million agreement with the federal government to accelerate production of the FDA-authorized home test, and other pandemic response measures.

In Frederick County, the company is looking to stand up two buildings for a total of roughly 200,000 square feet, which will create 1,500 jobs by the end of 2022. It is part of the Matan Progress Labs development, which is a two-million-square-foot project spread across Montgomery and Frederick counties that is specifically building for biomanufacturing. Ellume will be in a portion of the development called Center 85.

The move comes as the company is planning to make 8.5 million tests for the federal government by the end of the year. In choosing the location, the company’s news release cited proximity to D.C. and U.S. government facilities, as well as the fact that it is “close to internationally recognized academic teaching hospitals and leading experts in healthcare and public health and boasts a strong talent pool to support Ellume’s growth.”

“Frederick is the ideal location for Ellume as we continue to work closely with the U.S. government in delivering COVID-19 tests to communities across the country,” said Ellume U.S. President Jeff Boyle in a statement. “The facility will serve as a foundation for Ellume to support the domestic response to the COVID-19 pandemic and better prepare the U.S. for future public health crises.”

The agreement follows moves to strengthen economic ties between the U.S. and Australia. Gov. Larry Hogan visited Australia on an infrastructure and trade mission in 2019.

“It is outstanding news that Ellume has chosen Maryland for this significant expansion and will create more than 1,500 new life sciences jobs in our state at a time when they are needed the most,” Hogan said. “We had a highly successful mission to Australia, and I am pleased that the partnerships and connections we created during that mission have resulted in bringing this world-class company to Maryland.”

With the move, the company will be eligible for incentives. The Maryland Department of Commerce is working with the company on a conditional loan through Advantage Maryland, which will be contingent on job creation and capital investment. Frederick County approved the project for fast-track permitting, and it is eligible for county tax credits over the next six years.

Frederick has had a series of biotech developments in recent years. California-based biopharmaceutical company Kite Pharma announced plans for a manufacturing facility for its cell therapy treatments in 2019, and in April, Baltimore-based VaLogic said it will turn a vacant 75,000-square-foot building into a home for life sciences companies.

During the pandemic, many of the state’s life sciences companies and researchers jumped in to work on pandemic response in the areas of vaccines, testing and therapeutics, and collaborated in the name of combatting COVID-19.

In the D.C. suburbs of Maryland, the life sciences sector is seeing an uptick in new space for companies as the 55,000 employee industry saw 9% job growth over five years. A key reason? A cluster of maturing commercial companies clustered around the federal government’s R&D and regulatory hubs in Montgomery County.

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