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Kiromic founder says Houston biotech’s move to SA nearly a done deal
June 5, 2018

Houston-based immunotherapy company Kiromic is expected this month to approve moving its headquarters to San Antonio. IMAGE PROVIDED BY GETTY IMAGES (DHORANDE)

By W. Scott Bailey Senior Reporter, San Antonio Business Journal

Houston-based immunotherapy company Kiromic needs two things to move its headquarters, research and development operations to San Antonio: its approval and a lease for new space in the Alamo City.

Last week, by a 10-0 vote, the City Council authorized the San Antonio Economic Development Corp. to offer Kiromic incentives to move here. That deal involves a $200,000 economic development grant that would essentially give the city a similar amount of equity in the biotech company.

In return, Kiromic, which was founded in 2012, must agree to maintain its operations in San Antonio for at least five years. And it must create and retain up to 20 positions in the Alamo City to be eligible for the incentive.

“I am very optimistic that we are going to proceed accordingly,” the company’s founder and president, Dr. Scott Dahlbeck, told me during an exclusive interview. “We just have to go through the corporate protocol.”

That clearance could come soon. Dahlbeck said he expects the board to decide on the deal and the move this month.

Multiple factors prompted Kiromic to become interested in San Antonio, including how the incentive deal is structured.

“What really was the most meaningful is the fact that the city itself was interested in taking an equity position in the company,” Dahlbeck said. “It sends a very strong signal to us as a company about the city’s commitment to our success and to the success this will consequently bring … in building the biotech base in San Antonio.”

The equity arrangement could also help Kiromic attract other financial support.

“It’s a very strong point of validation for investors and other institutions we will be partnering with,” Dahlbeck said.

Weather is another consideration for Kiromic, which is engaged in time-sensitive biological work. In August, Hurricane Harvey left a trail of devastation along the Texas coast, with much of the Houston area flooded for several days.

“San Antonio is uniquely positioned as a climate-friendly environment,” Dahlbeck said. “That’s an advantage in terms of it being less likely to have bad weather impact operations.”

Kiromic officials are already scouting space in San Antonio.

“The most practical solution is to be in the midst of the medical center and the clinical trials sites,” Dahlbeck said. “The closer we can be to that interaction, the better.”

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