Dr. Ann Black, founder of ImmunoReagents, Inc. worked for almost two decades in antibody development, purification and immunoassay development for companies like drug giant Boerhinger Mannheim before she decided to strike out on her own. In 2005, Dr. Black decided to take the entrepreneurial plunge and launch her own company—ImmunoReagents.
Founded in NC State’s Technology Incubator on Centennial Campus, the company’s initial focus was to develop a line of secondary antibodies which could be customized to meet customer specifications as well as be available in bulk quantities for research and in vitro diagnostics. “Our goal was to not only deliver products of superior quality, but to provide outstanding customer service as well,” said Dr. Black. “This field is very competitive. One of our greatest strengths has always been our ability to be flexible and to deliver exactly what our clients need through custom antibody services while adhering to strict cGMP guidelines and ISO quality systems requirements.”
The company then branched into the immunodiagnostic market, manufacturing primary antibodies to be used in diagnostic kits for the detection of a variety of human diseases. Business was good, selling mostly to US based universities and organizations in the life sciences market. That changed when she met John Loyack, Vice President of Global Business Services at the Economic Development Partnership of NC (EDPNC) and a North Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partner (NCMEP), at the 2014 BIO International Convention.
Dr. Black discovered EDPNC could help her company in a number of areas, including trade show assistance, market entry strategy, advocacy and more. ImmunoReagents moved quickly and applied for EDPNC’s STEP funding.
Without EDPNC, ImmunoReagents would not have been able to travel to Spain, Germany and Dubai, meeting customers in person and developing networks that improve every year,” said Dr. Black. “For a small export business, the services they offer are invaluable. In addition, we were able to hire five new employees, saw $600K in new sales and realized $15K in cost savings as a result of our association with EDPNC. They also introduced us to the US Department of Commerce.
EDPNC helped ImmunoReagents grow their global sales by connecting them to major international trade shows, foreign distributors for their products and more. ImmunoReagents began with only six products in 2005. Between 2011 and 2014, the percentage of the company’s revenue attributable to international sales grew from 3 percent to 30 percent. Today, the organization offers more than 2000 products to the research and diagnostic marketplace. Regional distributors offer these products not only in the US and Canada, but also in 22 countries in Europe, Asia and Australia.
Dr. Black was recently recognized with the 2018 North Carolina Governor’s Export Award and, in 2015, the U.S. Secretary of Commerce presented ImmunoReagents with the President’s “E” Award for Exports, the highest recognition any U.S. entity can receive for making a significant contribution to the expansion of U.S. exports.