From Philadelphia to Saudi Arabia: A partnership in support of biotech expansion

SEPTEMBER 28, 2021

Limerick, PA, Sept. 15, 2021 -- Rockland President and Chief Executive Officer, James Fendrick and the King Abdullah International Medical Research Center (كيمارك KAIMRC) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) at the Riyadh Global Medical Biotechnology Summit to mark the beginning of a long-term partnership supporting key areas of research and development in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia such as chronic and infectious diseases.

Patronized by the auspices of HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the RGMB Summit hosted biotechnology leaders from around the world to discuss potential challenges and opportunities the Kingdom will have in its pursuit to establish a sustainable medical biotechnology industry.

Rockland’s Chief Operating Officer, Richard Smith, presented at the Summit on the best practices and future trends of biotechnology parks/clusters and encouraged the Kingdom “to think about the history of Saudi Arabia—where they’ve been and how they’ve gotten there—and the strengths and obstacles they are going to face.”

Smith used Philadelphia’s journey as an example, speaking to the economic disruption of the late 20th century involving the dismissal of thousands of R&D employees that produced ‘garage-entrepreneurs’, laying the groundwork of a biotech ‘cluster’. As a result, Philadelphia is now the home of the first FDA-approved cell and gene therapies and the region has been coined the “Cellicon Valley”.

Smith continued to recommend the Kingdom evaluate “what makes them unique—what do they have that others don’t—or how are they are going to focus all of their strength around things that can make a difference,” such as diversity or a recent focus of Rockland, sustainability. In short, how can the Kingdom’s effort deliver a meaningful impact for the people of Saudi Arabia and the global community.

Rockland’s participation in the event presented the opportunity for the global partnership with KAIMRC alongside other Rockland partners at the signing ceremony including Danaher, Cytiva, and Abzyme Therapeutics. The MoU underscores Rockland’s support of and for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 by seeking out opportunities that expand and extend the biotechnology ecosystem in the Kingdom.

MoU’s were also signed by AstraZeneca and Pfizer for the potential establishment of world-class clinical centers in the Kingdom and vaccine development that would address national and regional public health needs.