NY biotech IRX Therapeutics flying to Florida this winter

Florida has proven an irresistible new home for New York City-based IRX Therapeutics, which is getting $1.2 million in incentives from state and local sources to relocate to St. Petersburg, with ambitious plans to grow to more than 280 workers over the next 5 years. According to a release, the firm plans to be at 40 workers at the start of a late-stage trial for its lead drug.

Of course, the bulk of that projected job growth will likely hinge on factors such as the success of the biotech firm's clinical programs. With no products on the market, the company has high hopes for its lead drug IRX-2--a biologic drug that is designed to aid immune attacks against cancer--which the firm plans to move into Phase III development. Often, biotechs build up their workforces in anticipation of commercializing an experimental product, but it takes a lot of capital and investor support to pull of such plans.

IRX, which has raised $90 million in the past, is grabbing onto a relocation package that includes $600,000 from a state innovation fund, $275,000 from Pinellas County, a $275,000 credit on property owned by St. Petersburg in an industrial park, and $50,000 from a USF research fund, according to a release. For its part, IRX is teaming with the Florida High Tech Corridor Council to put $2.5 million into therapeutic vaccine and clinical research at USF, Bloomberg reported.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott hailed the relocation as a big win for the state's biotech industry. "IRX's choice of Florida confirms that our state has set the stage successfully for a future that's rich in science, research and innovation," the governor said in a statement. "I am pleased to support the company's continuing growth and job creation, which puts us one step closer to creating the jobs needed to get our state back to work."

For the sake of Florida taxpayers supporting this relocation, let's hope that IRX is able to follow through with plans to bring hundreds of high-paying jobs to the Sunshine State. The company's move to St. Petersburg is expected to begin later this year.

- see Bloomberg's report
- here's Gov. Scott's release