Partnerships and State Resources Key to CCIT Graduate Chromocell’s Success
Chromocell Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Christian Kopfli was named one of 12 winners of Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2016 New Jersey Award.
TRENTON (July 7, 2016) – June 2016 was an eventful month for life sciences business Chromocell. The company announced the continuation of a partnership with multi-national nutrition, health and wellness company Nestlé, one of several companies with which Chromocell collaborates to enhance the consumer experience. In addition, Chromocell’s co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Christian Kopfli was named one of 12 winners of Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2016 New Jersey Award.
Founded in 2002, Chromocell has grown from a small biotechnology startup that utilized space in the EDA’s Commercialization for Innovative Technologies (CCIT), into an innovative life sciences company that now employs over 120 people in graduate space on the Technology Centre of New Jersey campus in North Brunswick. The company is focused on discovering new drugs to manage pain, and develops and commercializes novel technologies beneficial to the average consumer – including new flavors, nutritional ingredients and therapeutics.
Food and beverage companies have often turned to Chromocell to enhance the flavors of their products. On June 28, Chromocell announced the extension of its longstanding partnership with Nestlé to find alternatives to salt and develop ways to reduce the amount of sodium in foods. Chromocell previously partnered with Coca-Cola to discover and develop sweetness enhancers, natural sweeteners and other flavoring ingredients. Chromocell also has a license and collaboration agreement with Astellas Pharma, a major global pharmaceutical company headquartered in Tokyo, for the development and commercialization of new therapies to treat neuropathic pain.
“Creating partnerships and leveraging resources has always been at the cornerstone of successful enterprises,” Chief Executive Officer Melissa Orsen said. “The EDA understands the value of starting these partnerships early and, through CCIT, provides an environment where collaboration is not only encouraged, but also cultivated.”
Chromocell is one of more than 40 companies to graduate from CCIT. Strategically located in the heart of the State’s research corridor between Rutgers and Princeton universities, CCIT is the region’s most significant wet lab incubator. It not only offers the most plug-and-play wet labs of any incubator in New Jersey, but also provides access to a wide array of resources essential to the startup community, including networking opportunities, help identifying funding sources, and access to small business development resources and administrative support.
In 2009, Chromocell expanded into a 26,000-square-foot research facility at the Biotechnology Development Center (BDC) on the Technology Centre of New Jersey campus. Designed as graduate or “tweener” space, the BDC is ideal for companies that have outgrown an incubator but are not ready to move into a much larger facility. The Technology Centre of New Jersey, which includes CCIT and the BDC, sits on 75-acres and consists of approximately 325,000 square feet of lab, production and office space, as well as approximately 560,000 square feet of "build-to-suit” sites.
On June 23, Kopfli won Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2016 New Jersey Award in the biopharmaceutical category. Like many entrepreneurs in the Garden State, Kopfli is heavily involved with New Jersey’s technology scene. He currently serves on CCIT’s advisory board, sharing his expertise with tenant companies. Earlier this year, Kopfli was re-elected to his position as Secretary of the Board of Trustees for BioNJ, the trade association for New Jersey’s life sciences industry.
@NJEDATech asked Kopfli about his experience in New Jersey and his company’s plans for the future:
Why did you choose to grow your company in New Jersey?
Growing the company in New Jersey has provided a variety of benefits. First and foremost, access to talent in the area is unprecedented. Not only is there much to be said about the availability of established professionals in the metropolitan area, but the number of universities in the vicinity also allows for the selection and development of those in the earlier stages of their careers. Additionally, New Jersey has an attractive mix of space for growth and established infrastructure.
What did you find most beneficial about your time at CCIT and at the Technology Centre of New Jersey?
CCIT and the Technology Centre of New Jersey have really allowed us to focus on building the business. With these facilities providing a fully functional lab and regular support from both CCIT and EDA staff, Chromocell has been able to concentrate on becoming Chromocell.
What do you consider Chromocell’s biggest success to date?
Chromocell has been fortunate enough to achieve a number of milestones over the years, with two that particularly stand out: Having worked extensively on sugar and sodium reduction, Chromocell’s flavors division has been able to become a trusted partner with some of the world’s largest beverage and food companies. In the therapeutics division, we have succeeded in developing a novel, non-opioid pain medication that is moving swiftly toward clinical development.
What’s on the horizon for Chromocell?
With regard to the development of our pain medication, we are planning on filing our Investigational New Drug (IND) application very soon and becoming a fully-fledged clinical development company. In terms of building on our established flavor business, we are seeking a broader range of clients and will launch our direct sales business at this year’s Institute of Food Technologists conference in Chicago.