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Life Science Start-Up Aro Biotherapeutics Expands at Pennovation Center

After considering real estate options all over the region, Aro Biotherapeutics selects the Pennovation Center as its ideal location to attract talent, accelerate research and development, grow the company, and cultivate its own culture of innovation.

Media Contact: Jennifer Rizzi, Director, Communications, Facilities & Real Estate Services, 215.573.6107, rizzi@upenn.edu

December 11, 2018

The University of Pennsylvania’s Division of Facilities and Real Estate Services announced today that life science start-up Aro Biotherapeutics (Aro) has signed a lease for 1,200 square feet within the Pennovation Center, the University’s acclaimed business, technology, and laboratory incubator.  Aro initially sought a 250 square foot office and 6-bench lab in the spring of 2018, and have since expanded its footprint to include a 500 square foot Inventor Office, a Startup Pod with six dedicated coworking desks, and two additional lab benches.

Aro was co-founded by President & CEO Susan Dillon, PhD, former Global Head of Immunology at Janssen Research & Development, LLC, and CSO Karyn O’Neil, PhD, co-inventor of Aro’s core technology and former leader of the Centyrex Venture, an internal venture incubated by Janssen R&D.  As a trustee at the world renowned Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, FierceBiotech “Top Women in Biotech” award winner, and leading executive influence in the life sciences industry, Dillon has emerged as a forerunner when it comes to the advancement of the next generation of innovative immunological therapies.  

Research developments for Dillon and O’Neil’s visionary joint venture came to fruition in late 2017.  With seed investments in place and the tangible currents of progress and development at the Pennovation Center at their fingertips, Aro aims to leverage their new headquarters to expedite the development of Centyrins, a dynamic proprietary protein scaffold engineered to allow extremely precise, tissue-specific drug delivery.  According to Aro, this first-in-class platform optimizes the delivery of multiple drug payloads and provides a window into a future with increasingly effective options for administering next-generation targeted therapeutics for diseases with significant unmet need.

Innovation, inclusion, interdisciplinary collaboration, and impact: It is no wonder the entrepreneurial breeding ground now so synonymous with Pennovation slid onto Dillon and O’Neil’s radar screen early on in their real estate search and did not migrate far.  After a region-wide investigation, the two cited the Pennovation Center as the most strategic location to help bring their research into clinical trials and nurture their business.  “Pennovation Center offers a facility and a community that is ideal for attracting scientific talent and building a culture of innovation at Aro.  The business model is very supportive for life science start-ups such as Aro – it is a great fit for our company, and we are excited to start out here,” said Dillon.

Penn echoes the sentiment.  “Entrepreneurs joining the Pennovation Center are turning data into action and developing products to serve a community larger than our own,” says Anne Papageorge, Vice President, Facilities & Real Estate Services at Penn.  “The Pennovation Center provides the resources, equipment, and facilities for these professionals to join intellectual forces and take their work to the next level.  Aro is joining a community of innovators dedicated to developing technologies that will change lives well beyond the walls of the Pennovation Center, and we look forward to welcoming them.”

About The Pennovation Center

The Pennovation Center is a 58,000 square-foot three-story facility designed for start-up companies, entrepreneurs, and inventors looking to be part of a unique community of innovators, and includes a full service technology incubator; basic wet and dry laboratories; private offices, Inventor Garages, as well as a coworking space for up to 200 members, operated by 1776.  It opened in October 2016 as the centerpiece of the University of Pennsylvania’s Pennovation Works, a 23-acre development adjacent to the University campus on the southern bank of the Schuylkill River providing facilities and amenities to bridge intellectual and entrepreneurial initiatives among University researchers, private sector innovators, and start-ups.  Owned by the University, and operated by its Division of Facilities and Real Estate Services, Pennovation Works houses research labs from Penn’s schools of Arts & Sciences, Dental Medicine, Design, Engineering & Applied Science, and Veterinary Medicine, and companies such as Qualcomm Philadelphia Research Lab, Netronix, and Limelight Bio. Approximately 85 companies and 350 innovators are currently located at Pennovation, where ideas go to work. 

Learn more about Aro at https://www.arobiotx.com/ and follow them on LinkedIn at Aro Biotherapeutics.

Visit pennovation.upenn.edu and follow @PennovationWorks on Facebook, @PennovationWork on Twitter, @PennovationWorks on Instagram, and @PennovationWorks on LinkedIn.

Cropped Aro Bio Team