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NM tech startup expands to Rio Rancho

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

A New Mexico startup with technology to rapidly develop new vaccines and drugs will move into a Rio Rancho facility and hire 116 workers over 10 years with backing from the state.

Nature’s Toolbox, or NTxBio, will relocate from its current office in Santa Fe to a 25,000-square-foot building at the Enchanted Hills Commerce Center in Rio Rancho early next year. It will receive $5 million in Local Economic Development Act funding to build out the facility into a high-tech research and manufacturing center for new pharmaceuticals, the state Economic Development Department announced Thursday morning.

“NTx is a company that launched in New Mexico and is now expanding in the state and adding high-paying jobs with assistance from LEDA,” Economic Development Secretary Alicia J. Keyes said in a prepared statement. “New Mexico has proven to be a recognized location for excellence in biosciences. The state investment in NTx will help build new partnerships in this industry and advance these innovative technologies.”

The company expects to hire 116 people over the next decade at an average annual salary of $74,000, representing about $74.5 million in additional payroll over the next 10 years. It’s total direct economic impact could reach $190 million over that period.

The City of Rio Rancho will act as fiscal agent for the LEDA funding, contributing $500,000 to the assistance package, although the city must still officially approve it.

“I am very excited at the prospect of welcoming NTx, a cutting-edge, innovation-leading bioscience company, to Rio Rancho,” Mayor Gregg Hull said in a statement. “… I look forward to seeking our governing body’s support on this tremendous opportunity.”

The company will work with local universities and organizations to recruit New Mexico graduates in the science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, fields, said Rio Rancho Economic Development Director Matthew Geisel.

“These are high-tech jobs of the future,” Geisel said. “(These are) jobs that will keep our kids here and bring our kids home.”

NtxBio developed a novel, “cell-free” drug discovery and development technology that allows the company to rapidly pinpoint new potential compounds for many diseases and then create synthetic-based replicas of the compounds for expedited testing and manufacturing. The scientists who launched the company in 2015 created the foundational technology at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Their platform has attracted interest from private investors. The company raised $13 million in private equity last February in a round of funding led by venture capital firm Anzu Partners.

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