BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Stephen Panaro, a chemist from Western New
York, was working for Contract Pharmaceuticals Limited (CPL) in
2010 when the Canadian company announced plans to shut down
Panaro declined the opportunity to move across the border to
stay with the firm. A chemist who received a PhD from UB, Panaro
had deep ties to Western New York. He was born and raised in the
area -- the kind of Buffalonian who proclaims, "I love Buffalo, the
people and the snow."
So Panaro pitched an idea to two CPL colleagues, Ryan Downey and
Leanne Kisicki: Together, the three had extensive experience in the
pharmaceuticals manufacturing industry. Why not leverage that to
start a company of their own?
The result of those conversations was QuaDPharma, which was
incorporated in 2010 with Panaro as president and CEO, Downey as
director of quality assurance and Kisicki as director of quality
The company manufactures and tests small-batch pharmaceuticals
-- prescription solids, ointments, lotions, creams and liquids that
researchers or drug companies need in small quantities (generally
less than 1,000 liters).
Today, QuaDPharma has grown to include seven employees. It
occupies an 18,000 square-foot office and manufacturing facility in
Clarence. This fully compliant Food and Drug
Administration-regulated facility is outfitted with
state-of–the-art equipment to support clients' product
development, analytical testing, and clinical and commercial
manufacturing, Panaro said.
Panaro, who anticipates continued expansion, says assistance
from the University at Buffalo has been critical to the company's
survival in its first years. Specifically, UB's Center for Advanced
Biomedical and Bioengineering Technology (UB CAT), which is based
in UB's New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and
Life Sciences, has partnered with QuaDPharma in the following
-- The UB CAT has referred seven clients to QuaDPharma, ranging
from research professors who have developed a new drug to larger
pharmaceutical companies. These clients form a large part of
QuaDPharma's business today, Panaro said.
-- The UB CAT invited QuaDPharma to present at the UB CAT's
2011-12 Life Sciences Commercialization Lecture Series. During this
event, the UB CAT staff introduced QuaDPharma's founders to Rand
Capital, a local venture capital firm that went on to provide
QuaDPharma with the startup's first private investment, in the
amount of $500,000. The investment helped save several jobs in
jeopardy of being lost. It also positioned the company to take on
new contracts to grow business and expand their service offerings
to pharmaceutical clients. In November 2012, Rand Capital announced
it had invested additional funds of $200,000, along with
investments totaling $300,000 from Glen Falls, N.Y.-based Advantage
Capital Partners and other investors, to bring the total from all
investors to $1 million.
-- The UB CAT facilitated invitations for QuaDPharma to present
at the 2011 MedTech Conference, 2011 BIO International Conference
and 2012 BIO International Convention. Networking opportunities at
these events generated various business leads, including a
partnership with a Nebraska company that is helping QuaDPharma
develop new capabilities in manufacturing and testing protein-based
drugs. In aggregate, attendance at these events resulted in
meetings with prospective clients and business partners to develop
business opportunities leading to over $400,000 in revenues.
"The UB CAT plays an important role in connecting emerging
companies with the people and resources they need to help grow, or
in this case, reinvent themselves as part of the region's high-tech
economy," said Marnie LaVigne, PhD, UB associate vice president of
economic development. "The progress that QuaDPharma has made in a
short time demonstrates the value of making these connections, and
how the relationships that result can yield significant benefits
for companies and Western New York."
"Being a startup company, the partnership with UB has been vital
to the success of QuaDPharma," Panaro said. "Looking back, the
networking and business that we were able to obtain through our
relationship with UB helped us to get through our first two years.
This business has been the foundation of revenue for the company as
we look to expand."
Panaro said QuaDPharma hopes to add dozens of employees over the
next five years, and grow its customer base to include clients
around the country. The firm's solid track record has drawn the
attention of the Western New York business community and a
participating investor from outside the region.
"We were impressed by the management team and their ability to
produce revenues in their first year of operations," said Pete
Grum, president of Rand Capital. "When we called their customers,
many who are in the local area, we learned that they were
satisfied, had received exceptional service, and anticipated
increasing their business with QuaDPharma. This fit our investment
profile of strong management, a growing company and opportunities
for Rand to assist in the success of a company."