| 2014 Q4 | story by LIZ WESLANDER | photos by STEVEN HERTZOG |
It’s a long way from New Zealand to Lawrence, but Andrew Shepherd, President for Simcro North America, says that the New Zealand-based company’s recent decision to set up shop at the Bioscience Technology and Business Center (BTBC) at the University of Kansas was an easy one to make.
Founded in 1993, Simcro is a company that manufactures and assembles injection-molded plastic devices that assist in the delivery of pharmaceuticals to livestock. Simcro signed a three-year lease in August for office space in the BTBC, which is located on KU’s West Campus. A U.S. private equity firm, The Riverside Company, acquired controlling stake of Simcro in 2013, which helped springboard Simcro’s expansion into the U.S.
“With the high concentration of animal health companies in the Kansas City area, moving to this region was a no-brainer,” Shepherd said. “When we dove down further, we found that the BTBC resonated with what are trying to do. From the networking, to the day to day integration – everything felt right about moving to the BTBC.”
Simcro’s pharmaceutical delivery systems, which include highly specialized syringes and nozzles, are designed to help increase efficiency when administering drugs to large groups of animals, and to minimize safety risks for the people administering the drugs. Simcro’s primary reason for expanding into the U.S. was to further develop its relationships with the animal-health companies that use its products.
“A pharmaceutical company will typically spend thousands, even millions of dollars developing a drug to put in a bottle,” Shepherd said. “Our business is developing the best way to get that drug out of the bottle and into the animal. We want to work alongside the drug companies to help them provide a point of differentiation in the way their product is delivered -so that the customer can actually enjoy using it.”
A high concentration of animal health companies located between Manhattan, Kan. and Columbia, Mo. prompted the Kansas City Area Development Council (KCADC) to brand this region the Animal Health Corridor in 2006. According to KCADC, more than 300 animal health companies located within the Animal Health Corridor make for the largest concentration of animal-health companies in the world, and account for more than half of the sales generated by the global animal-health industry. The Animal Health Corridor concept has steadily gained traction since 2006, and is now embraced by many local and regional entities. Shepherd said that the KCADC’s Vice President of Bioscience Development, Kimberly Young was instrumental to introducing Simcro to the BTBC, and to facilitating the move to Lawrence.
“We are so proud of the regional partnership that exists among the economic development, civic, corporate, academic and governmental leadership in the KC Animal Health Corridor,” Young said, in a recent statement in a KC Animal Health Corridor news release.
In addition to being a welcoming place for business, Shepherd noted that Lawrence has a lot to offer relocating families. He said this asset is something that should not be overlooked.
“The personal side is as important as the business side of things,” Shepherd said. “When I looked at moving my family around the world, this community ticked all the boxes. Lawrence has come up tops for us.”
Shepherd is currently the lone member of Simcro’s Lawrence staff, but is in the process of hiring support staff. The company plans to spend the next 12 months researching the market and establishing relationships. After that, Shepherd said that Simcro has ambitious long-term aspirations for its Lawrence operations that could include both the production and manufacturing side of the business.
“We’re not just setting up an office and then walking into the sunset. We are here for the Iong-term,” Shepherd said. “We have no intention of shutting it down. We would like to replicate everything that we are doing in New Zealand here.”
Simcro’s decision to base itself in Lawrence is one that has local leaders feeling very optimistic as well.
“This is a tremendous win not only for the BTBC and the Animal Health Corridor, but for the Lawrence community,” said Lawrence Chamber CEO and EDC President, Larry McElwain. “We are extraordinarily pleased that Simcro chose Lawrence, Kansas to be the base for their North American Operations and we look forward to their continued success.”