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WBJ: French Cell Company Opens In Framingham

December 11, 2009

December 11, 2009
Brandon Butler, Worcester Business Journal

Last May William Sharp, then an adviser with French cell-technology company Cytoo SA, mentioned at the annual biotechnology conference in Atlanta that the company was looking to establish a North American headquarters.

Later that day, Gov. Deval Patrick approached Sharp at the conference and told him Cytoo should look to locate in Massachusetts.

“I call that not just talking the talk, but walking the walk,” said Sharp, now the president and CEO of Cytoo Inc., Cytoo’s U.S. subsidiary.

Cell Walls
Cytoo opened its small four-person office at 161 Worcester Road in Framingham Friday afternoon, complete with a ribbon cutting and a handful of state officials attempting to display their French-speaking skills to welcome the company to Massachusetts.

Alexandra Fuchs, CEO of the parent company Cytoo SA, which is headquartered in Grenoble, France, said much of the company’s sales are in the United States, so she wanted to expand Cytoo’s footprint across the Atlantic.

She received $4.7 million in venture capital funding from a French firm named Auriga, which helped the company move stateside.

While the company has about 15 employees in France and another four in America, Fuchs said she expects both locations to double in employees in 2010 after the company launches its new cell-technology product in the first quarter of next year.

Fuchs said if all goes well she hopes to open some laboratory space in the region in the coming years and continue to expand jobs. That, she said, will be dependent on finding additional customers to purchase the company’s products. Cytoo products help researchers more efficiently study large quantities of cells at a time.

Lt. Gov. Tim Murray, who attended Friday’s grand opening, said Cytoo opening in Framingham is a product of his and Patrick’s 10-year, $1 billion Life Sciences initiative.

“This industry is a winner because it not only creates jobs, but it creates cures for people,” Murray said.

State Sen. Karen Spilka, who represents the Framingham area and also chairs the Beacon Hill committee on economic development, said the region’s high quality of life and proximity to major research institutions makes it a good place for biotechnology firms to locate.

“The MetroWest/495 region is an important economic engine for the commonwealth, and it’s international businesses such as Cytoo that are a critical part of the impressive and continued growth of this area,” Spilka said.

The biotechnology industry has been growing in the state. According to Massachusetts Biotechnology Council, there has been 43 percent growth in biotechnology jobs in the state since 2001.

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