AbCellera breaks ground on new Vancouver HQ as it plans to hire hundreds

AbCellera's leadership team in a company lab

AbCellera, Canada’s most valuable biotech company, has broken ground on a new 380,000-square foot tech hub in Vancouver that is set to serve as the company’s new headquarters.

The hub comes in ahead of the Vancouver company’s plans to add “hundreds” of employees to its current 250-person workforce over the next few years, with a particular focus on software, engineering, and bioscience talent.

The headquarters will include two facilities, which are expected to be completed in 2023 and 2024, and being developed in partnership with real estate developers Dayhu Group and Beedie.

AbCellera plans to add “hundreds” of employees to its current 250-person workforce over the next few years.

The move follows the NASDAQ-listed firm’s December initial public offering (IPO), through which it raised $555.5 million USD in gross proceeds in the largest ever-IPO for a Canadian biotech. AbCellera currently trades under the symbol ‘ABCL’ and boasts a market capitalization of approximately $7.8 billion USD.

“We’re building state-of-the-art facilities in Vancouver to accelerate the development of new antibody therapies with biotech and pharma partners from around the world,” said Carl Hansen, AbCellera’s CEO and president. “We intend for this technology campus to serve as a place where talented people can contribute to dramatically improving and accelerating antibody discovery for the benefit of patients everywhere.”

Long-term, AbCellera aims to build “Canada’s first clinical-grade good manufacturing practice (GMP) antibody manufacturing facility,” which the company said “will provide technology and infrastructure to respond to future pandemics.

Founded in 2012, AbCellera has developed software that searches and analyzes immune systems to find antibodies that can be used to prevent and treat disease. The company’s antibody drug discovery platform uses microfluidics, machine learning, computation, custom robotics, and automation to hasten and deepen this process.

“Vancouver is home to a wealth of talent and a network of world-leading tech companies and startups,” said Véronique Lecault, AbCellera’s COO. “We see this new site as a creative hub for engineers, software developers, data scientists, biologists and bioinformaticians to collaborate, innovate, and push the frontiers of technology.”

RELATED: AbCellera officially closes initial public offering with $555.5 million gross proceeds

“As a Vancouver-based company, AbCellera’s success in leading the fight against COVID-19
underscores how our city has emerged as an innovation hub where tech companies can grow and thrive,” said Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart.

In 2020, AbCellera generated $233 million USD in revenue, for a net profit of $119 million. This was a significant increase from 2019, when it saw revenue of only $11.6 million and a loss of $2 million. Much of the increase was associated with its partnership with Eli Lilly, which took AbCellera’s antibody treatment for COVID-19 patients, bamlanivimab, to market. Although the Government of Canada has procured nearly 20,000 doses of bamlanivab, most are sitting in storage, according to The Logic.

With the creation of its new headquarters, AbCellera is set to join a number of other tech firms expanding their presence in Vancouver, a list that includes Microsoft, Chime, Silicon Valley Bank, Grammarly, and MacroHealth.

“The tech sector is a key economic driver for our city, and this announcement ensures that one of our most successful anchor companies will play a pivotal role in creating new jobs, diversifying our economy, and commercializing made-in-BC innovations – all while protecting us from current and emerging health challenges,” Stewart said.

Photo courtesy of AbCellera

Josh Scott

Josh Scott

Josh Scott is a BetaKit staff writer who loves to tell Canadian business and tech stories. His coverage is more complete than his moustache.