When pharmaceutical company Ipsen first announced plans to open a new headquarters on the East Coast in June, Sean McKercher, president and general manager of Ipsen North America, couldn’t stop thinking about the ones who got away.
According to McKercher, what first sparked Ipsen’s interest in a U.S. expansion was that it sells $1.5 billion worth of products within the pharmaceutical sector, but that less than 6 percent of its profits come from North America — even though the United States represents 30 percent of the global life sciences market. McKercher said that while Ipsen already had an established outpost in Brisbane, Calif., the French company found it hard to attract high-caliber talent in the West, and the time zone difference did not help facilitate business.
“We made the decision around August and September to focus on three (potential) properties. Two were in New Jersey, but we kept the door open for the Boston area, since there’s a lot of biotech there, as well,” McKercher said. “When we went through the process of talking to the states about their tax incentives, the state agency in New Jersey was very cooperative and easy to engage with. They were all very business friendly.”
According to a spokeswoman at the state’s Economic Development Authority, Ipsen will receive $4.4 million in incentive grants over 10 years through the Business Employment Incentive Program, but the financing package could increase based on the number of people the branch employs within that time period. To date, Ipsen has hired 75 new employees in the sectors of clinical research, marketing and sales, finance, legal compliance, market access, and regulatory affairs over the past six months at the location in the Basking Ridge section of Bernards, which now has a total of 100 workers, he said.
“The other (New Jersey location) we were considering was more north than where we are, and we wanted to be able to attract people who live in New York and Pennsylvania, providing an accessible commute for them,” McKercher said.
McKercher said after Ipsen chose its location, it took only 45 days for the company to finalize a lease agreement with the property’s landlord, Mack-Cali Realty Corp. The completed structure was unveiled Wednesday.
“Welcoming innovator biopharmaceutical companies like Ipsen to New Jersey is critical to the (Gov. Chris) Christie administration’s economic growth agenda,” said Linda Kellner, acting executive director of the New Jersey Business Action Center, in a statement.