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Why one of the world's leading life science companies chose Pearland

The Lonza facility in Lower Kirby. Photo courtesy of Pearland Economic Development Corp.

In 2018, Switzerland-based company Lonza debuted a 300,000-square-foot life science facility in Pearland, the largest dedicated cell and gene therapy manufacturing facility in the world at the time.

What made one of the world's largest companies for contract development and manufacturing choose Lower Kirby for this groundbreaking building?

"The location was ideal for the expansion capability, proximity to the Texas Medical Center, and ease of access from major freeways 288 and Beltway 8," says Frank Bugg, Lonza's site head. "Many Lonza employees also reside in the Pearland area."

The company also sought a location for this "Center of Excellence" that would maintain a presence on the "third coast" of biotech. Lonza currently employs more than 500 at its Pearland facility.

Additional factors that made Pearland's Lower Kirby District an attractive choice for Lonza were the nearby life sciences community, infrastructure, and quality-of-life benefits such as top-rated schools and a reasonable cost of living.

The team at this location is currently leading efforts in four categories: research and development, process development, cell and gene therapy manufacturing, and viral vector manufacturing.

Cell and gene therapy is growing and these novel medicines are getting established as a validated treatment option — the field is transforming the way cancer or genetic diseases can be treated.

In 2019, Lonza provided manufacturing services for more than 300 commercial molecules and supported the development of more than 700 pre-clinical and clinical molecules in small and large molecules, as well as supporting the launch of pioneering autologous cell therapies.

These novel drug candidates provide drastically improved patient outcomes and, in some cases, can be curative. However, manufacturing of such medicines pose complex new challenges.

Today, the cost of production still represents a major hurdle for clinical translation and commercialization of these potentially groundbreaking therapies. New technologies are needed to enable robust and cost-efficient manufacturing of high-quality medicines.

While the therapeutic opportunities for patients are exciting, the stakes for patients and drug developers are high.

Lonza serves as a partner to its customers, keeping manufacturing costs under control and following the process through the regulatory bodies through to commercialization.

The company also helps develop and commercialize its customers' innovative new therapies. Lonza scientists and engineers bring decades-long development experience across a broad spectrum of cell types and technologies. With this background, they can tailor services in process and analytical development, manufacturing, and regulatory support.

The work done at Lonza is at the forefront of medical breakthroughs. These cell and gene therapies are shaping the way we treat modern diseases, and now it's being done right in Houston's own backyard.

Since the Pearland facility's opening in 2018, Lonza has continued to expand with the addition of laboratories, clean rooms, and additional parking.

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Here's what not to miss at the first all-virtual CERAWeek by IHS Markit. Screenshot via virtual.ceraweek.com

While usually hundreds of energy experts, C-level executives, diplomats, members of royal families, and more descend upon Houston for the the annual CERAWeek by IHS Markit conference, this year will be a little different. Canceled last year due to COVID-19, CERAWeek is returning — completely virtually.

The Agora track is back and focused on innovation within the energy sector. The Agora track's events — thought-provoking panels, intimate pods, and corporate-hosted "houses" — can be accessed through a virtual atrium.

Undoubtedly, many of the panels will have Houston representatives considering Houston's dominance in the industry, but here are five innovation-focused events you can't miss during CERAWeek that feature Houstonians.

Monday — New Horizons for Energy & Climate Research

The COVID-19 pandemic has made vivid and real the risks of an uncontrolled virus. Risks posed by climate change are also becoming more palpable every day. At the forefront of understanding these risks, universities are developing solutions by connecting science, engineering, business, and public policy disciplines. Along with industry and governments, universities are critical to developing affordable and sustainable solutions to meet the world's energy needs and achieve net-zero emission goals. Can the dual challenge of more energy and lower emissions be met? What is some of the most promising energy and climate research at universities? Beyond research, what are the roles and responsibilities of universities in the energy transition?

Featuring: Kenneth B. Medlock, III, James A. Baker, III, and Susan G. Baker Fellow In Energy And Resource Economics, Baker Institute and Senior Director, Center For Energy Studies at Rice University

Catch the panel at 1 pm on Monday, March 1. Learn more.

Tuesday — Conversations in Cleantech: Powering the energy transition

With renewables investment outperforming oil and gas investment for the first time ever in the middle of a pandemic, 2020 was a tipping point in the Energy Transition. Low oil prices intensified energy majors' attention on diversification and expansion into mature and emerging clean technologies such as battery storage, low-carbon hydrogen, and carbon removal technologies. Yet, the magnitude of the Energy Transition challenge requires an acceleration of strategic decisions on the technologies needed to make it happen, policy frameworks to promote public-private partnerships, and innovative investment schemes.

Three Cleantech leaders share their challenges, successes, and lessons learned at the forefront of the Energy Transition. What is their vision and strategy to accelerate lowering emissions and confronting climate change? Can companies develop clear strategies for cleantech investments that balance sustainability goals and corporate returns? What is the value of increasing leadership diversity for energy corporations? Can the Energy Transition be truly transformational without an inclusive workforce and a diverse leadership?

Featuring: Emily Reichert, CEO of Greentown Labs, which is opening a location in Houston this year.

The event takes place at 11:30 am on Tuesday, March 2. Learn more.

Wednesday — Rice Alliance Venture Day at CERAWeek

The Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship pitch event will showcase 20 technology companies with new solutions for the energy industry. Each presentation will be followed by questions from a panel of industry experts.

Presenting Companies: Acoustic Wells, ALLY ENERGY, Bluefield Technologies, Cemvita Factory, Connectus Global, Damorphe, Ovopod Ltd., DrillDocs, GreenFire Energy, inerG, Locus Bio-Energy Solutions, Nesh, Pythias Analytics, REVOLUTION Turbine Technologies, Revterra, ROCSOLE, Senslytics, Subsea Micropiles, Syzygy Plasmonics, Transitional Energy, and Universal Subsea.

The event takes place at 9 am on Wednesday, March 3. Learn more.

Thursday — How Will the Energy Innovation Ecosystem Evolve?

Although the cleantech innovation ecosystem—research institutions, entrepreneurs, financiers, and support institutions—is diverse and productive, converting cleantech discoveries and research breakthroughs into commercially viable, transformative energy systems has proven difficult. With incumbent energy systems economically efficient and deeply entrenched, cleantech innovation faces a fundamental dilemma—the scale economies necessary to compete require a large customer base that does not yet exist. How is our clean energy innovation ecosystem equipped to be transformative? What needs to be strengthened? Is it profitable to focus on individual elements, or should we consider the system holistically, and reframe our expectations?

Featuring: Barbara Burger, vice president of innovation at Chevron and president at Chevron Technology Ventures

The event takes place at 7:30 am on Thursday, March 4. Learn more.

Friday — Cities: Managing crises & the future of energy

Houston is the capital of global energy and for the past four decades the home of CERAWeek. Mayor Sylvester Turner will share lessons from the city's experience with the pandemic, discuss leadership strategies during times of crisis, and explore Houston's evolving role in the new map of energy.

The event takes place at 8 am on Friday, March 5. Learn more.

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