After being recently acquired by Israel-based Given Imaging, the manufacturing operations of medical device company SmartPill Corp.
are heading overseas. Thirteen local jobs are being lost as Given Imaging will produce the SmartPill products at its facility in Israel. It is a small setback for the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus but also an opportunity.
SmartPill was the first medical firm to set up manufacturing on the Medical Campus in 2009. It produced an ingestible capsule that utilizes sensor technology to measure pressure, pH and temperature throughout the entire GI tract.
The move will result in the loss of about 13 local jobs, all in SmartPill's production and office operations, while David L. Barthel, SmartPill's top executive and three salespeople will keep jobs with the new owner, Given Imaging, employees said.
"After a transition period, we will move SmartPill manufacturing operation to our existing manufacturing facility in Israel," Shimon Vinter, Given Imaging's global director of purchasing and logistics, said in a letter to suppliers that was obtained by The Buffalo News.
The move is a blow to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, where SmartPill, with its prominent Main Street office and its decision to shift manufacturing to Buffalo from California four years ago, had assumed a visible role in the community's efforts to build a hub for life sciences research and medical device manufacturing.
SmartPill is currently located in a leased facility at 847 Main Street at Virginia Street (above, right). The bunker-like masonry building
built in 2001 is owned by an LLC controlled by Orchard Park-based Krog Corp.
, the developer behind the new building at Elmwood and Bryant
. 847 Main contains 33,280 sq.ft. of space on a 1.5 acre parcel and is assessed at $1.65 million. The facility was originally built for Biosight Inc., a medical and healthcare industry consulting firm and its five affiliated biotech companies that included Minrad Inc. and Fertility Acoustics Inc.
It is unknown whether SmartPill will completely vacate the Main Street building or what Krog's plans are for the property. The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus has some ideas. Think bigger and more urban.
The SmartPill site was one of ten "strategic parcels" that were identified for redevelopment in the 2010 BNMC Master Plan Update:
As development pressures dictate, existing one and two story structures should be replaced by four to eight story developments that are at a scale befitting an urban campus. One need not look too far away for appropriate building precedents. The adjacent buildings of the Roosevelt and the Red Jacket are significant architectural resources and were designed at appropriate urban scale for the width of Main Street. As development pressures are making their way north from the downtown core, and more interest is developing around transit stations, the rehabilitation of these historic resources will entice adjacent redevelopment on Site H.
Key design considerations: Increase scale of new development, ground floor programs should enhance pedestrian experience along Main Street, dedicate building setback on southern portion of property to extend planned Virginia Street Park to connect to Main Street.
The BNMC plan envisions three buildings in the four to eight story range with 286,000 sq.ft. of mixed medical, housing and research/education space on the Carlton/Main/Virginia/Washington block. Opportunity is knocking.