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HarkerBio gets $500,000 low-interest loan for expansion

HarkerBio is getting a $500,000 low-interest loan from the Buffalo and Erie County Regional Development Corp. to help the pharmaceutical contract research firm expand its services and add 16 new employees over the next three years.

HarkerBio, which grew out of technology developed at Hauptman-Woodward Institute on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, is broadening its contract research capabilities after gaining access to highly specialized equipment that allows researchers to study protein molecules at the moment that they bond with other molecules.

The equipment, acquired by the University at Buffalo for more than $800,000 using a Buffalo Billion grant and leased to HarkerBio, is one of only eight such machines in the world and the only one that is not owned by a drug manufacturer. HarkerBio currently is the only research firm with a BioDesy machine that is accessible to other companies.

HarkerBio had $865,000 in revenue last year and currently has a contract backlog of $1.6 million. HarkerBio is expected to have around $1.8 million in revenue this year, but the company needs the funding to bridge the gap between the time the company performs research for a client and when it is paid for those services – often 45 to 90 days later.

The positions that HarkerBio hopes to create over the next three years would boost its workforce from 14 people today to 30 by 2020. If the company's projections are met, those positions would pay an average of $95,000 a year, said Gerald Manhard, the development agency's chief lending officer.

HarkerBio had tried to obtain funding through Bank of America, but was turned down because it is a startup that has yet to become profitable, agency officials said. The 90-month loan the company received Wednesday through the regional development agency has a 4 percent interest rate and includes one year of interest-only payments.

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