The operation started with little fanfare last fall, but what’s happening inside its lab could bring dozens of biotech jobs to Sioux Falls and improve animal genetics for farmers worldwide.
In Vitro Brasil, or IVB, is a global leader in the bovine market for in vitro fertilization, or IVF. The company is based in Brazil and owned by ABS Global Inc., the world’s leader in bovine genetics, reproduction services and artificial insemination technologies.
IVB, which operates in 17 countries, opened its largest lab in the Sioux Falls Development Foundation’s Park VIII in northeast Sioux Falls.
It’s a 6,000-square-foot technical lab and warehouse that includes a “clean” lab that meets USDA specifications to be an IVF lab certified for embryo export.
“The IVB goal is to provide fast animal genetic improvement to farmers around the world and help them make their business more efficient and profitable in a sustainable way,” said CEO Jose Henrique Pontes.
“The lab in Sioux Falls is our largest IVB lab and is projected to meet the needs of our current customers while also growing our customer base in the area. At the facilities, we produce and store embryos until they are shipped to our customers.”
IVB has about 70 percent market share worldwide. Its core business is producing embryos from elite cows matched with semen from elite bulls.
The Sioux Falls operation has 16 employees, and the goal is to reach 30, Pontes said. The positions are lab-based and focus on embryo production from food animals. The facility began operations in September 2017 “and we continue to make significant improvements on the production rates from previous months,” he said.
“The Sioux Falls area is home to a great number of dairies – many of them our customers. Sioux Falls is the ideal place to locate our lab to better serve our customers and introduce others to our technology.”
Bringing IVB to the area is a big win for the biotech sector, said Joni Johnson, executive director of South Dakota Biotech.
“We know Sioux Falls is ideally positioned to support research, production and business development for animal genetics businesses. IVB is a perfect example of why our area is such a good fit for this industry,” she said.
The development park location easily met the company’s needs, Pontes said.
“It was an open area, and we could design the facilities according to the requirements for embryo production and export,” he said.
The 12,000-square-foot building is owned by Gary Gaspar and Sheila Casiello, who also are partners in Interstate Office Products, and their father, Ken. They also own three other industrial buildings to the west of the site and recently built an identical 12,000-square-foot building directly north.
“We’re thrilled to have IVB as a tenant,” Gaspar said. “They’ve made substantial improvements to the building and are bringing high-quality biotech jobs to Sioux Falls immediately.”
The deal is a good example of how Sioux Falls Development Foundation developments are designed to work, he added.
“IVB needed a building they could move into within two months. Without the build-ready sites from the development foundation providing affordable development, we likely would not have made the speculative investment in the building,” he said. “Without the building being readily available, IVB would have had to look around the region for other more readily available options.”
The Sioux Falls lab has the capacity for 10,000 embryos and “as soon as we achieve the full capacity and still have demand, we will consider expansion,” Pontes said.