From left, Roberto Salcedo and Luis Alemañy The Puerto Rico Economic Development Bank (BDE, in Spanish) has granted $3,850,000 in financing to two manufacturing firms: Biosimilar Sciences PR LL and Ocyon Bio PR Inc. The funding is intended to support the purchase of specialized equipment for the biotechnology sector, highlighting the teamwork between the institutions. The funds come from the U.S. Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative, BDE President Luis Alemañy said at a news conference. The financing marks the first time the bank has partnered with a private financial entity, working alongside the Jesús Obrero Credit Union. Biosimilar and OcyonBio were founded by Daniel Chang and Roberto Salcedo and are developing bioequivalent products for the following medicines: GCSF (Neupogen), PEG-GCSF (Neulasta), Darbepoetin (Aranesp) and Adalimumab (Humira). These medicines are prescribed for patients undergoing cancer treatments. The companies will also produce bioequivalent therapies, COVID-19 vaccines and stem cell therapies. “We continue to be committed to strengthening the local manufacturing industry and fostering the development of quality medicines for the benefit of our citizens and overall economy,” Alemañy said. “Supporting innovative companies is essential for the sustainable economic development of Puerto Rico. We are committed to supporting projects that boost the local pharmaceutical industry and foster the creation of quality jobs,” Alemañy added. The BDE’s financial assistance will enable Biosimilar to acquire specialized equipment, strengthen its production capacity and contribute to the growth and development of the pharmaceutical industry in Puerto Rico. In addition, Biosimilar will use the financing to purchase three Aseptic Filling Workcell machines. These machines, manufactured by well-known suppliers to the pharmaceutical industry such as Marchesini and Bausch + Ströbel, have specific production capacities, including 900 syringes per hour, 11,400 syringes or cartridges per hour and 4,300 vials per hour. Salcedo explained that the equipment being acquired “represents a great advancement to continue positioning Puerto Rico as a logical option for the reshoring of companies to American territory. This will allow the first biosimilars to be produced on the island.” He added that “the machines will also have enough capacity to support contracts with other companies seeking sterile fill for vials, syringes and cartridges. The machines are expected to be installed and operating by the first quarter of 2024.” Manufacturing is Puerto Rico’s leading economic sector, accounting for 43% of the island’s gross domestic product in fiscal year 2022. The pharmaceutical industry plays a crucial role in this sector, with medicines and pharmaceutical products leading the main export and import categories. In addition, 57.2% of imports consisted of raw materials and intermediary products used in the manufacture of goods exported stateside and abroad, the bank stated. As for exports, medicines and pharmaceutical products made up 75.2% of the total, valued at $46.3 billion. Meanwhile, imports of these products ranked first at 22.4%, worth $12 billion. In 2022, Puerto Rico stood out as the leading exporter of medicines and pharmaceuticals among all U.S. states and territories of the United States. The chemical product manufacturing sector experienced growth in employment, with an increase of 5.6% in 2022. “These data highlight the importance of the pharmaceutical industry in the economy of Puerto Rico, generating employment and promoting commercial development,” the BDE stated.