Hoeven Lauds ND's Growing Biotech Industry at BioND Annual Meeting

Senator Cites Aldevron as Model of Entrepreneurialism and Biotech Success

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven today lauded North Dakota’s growing biotechnology sector at a large gathering of industry leaders and cited the success of Aldevron as a model of entrepreneurship in the field. Hoeven spoke today at the annual meeting of BioND, an organization that supports the biotechnology and life science industries in North Dakota. BioND members are involved in the development of innovative healthcare, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products and ventures.

“North Dakota continues to be a national leader in agriculture and bio-technology because we have companies like Aldevron that are doing research and commercialization on the forefront of medical innovation,” Hoeven said. “Mike Chambers’ story is pretty well known by now. He graduated from NDSU with a degree and an idea, but not much more. He and his partner John Ballantyne were helped by family and friends and maxed out their credit cards for financing. They launched a new company called Aldevron that developed the world’s first DNA vaccine. Today, Aldevron is a world-class company with clients in countries around the globe. And Aldevron is just one story in the growing list of North Dakota successes. North Dakota now has companies and universities that are researching and making new treatments and therapies, lab equipment, biofuels and new and better agricultural products. Every year, we see that research and development multiply as new companies begin to cluster in the Red River Valley and other regions of our state.”

Headquartered in Fargo, Chambers and partner John Ballantyne started Aldevron at North Dakota State University (NDSU) in 1998. Today, Aldevron is growing and expanding, with 140 employees. The company specializes in DNA and protein production technologies and is working on cancer gene editing, specifically reading DNA, writing DNA and editing DNA in an effort to help develop therapies to cure cancer and diseases with a genetic basis. Aldevron has also been contacted by various groups to develop a vaccine for the Zika virus.

The senator also cited other recent examples of North Dakota biotechnology successes in infrastructure, including the:

National Agricultural Genotyping Center

Hoeven cited the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s decision to select the Agricultural Research Service’s research laboratory on the campus of North Dakota State University (NDSU) as the site for the newly formed National Agricultural Genotyping Center.

The senator spearheaded an effort to support their bid, writing a letter of support to the director of research at the National Corn Growers Association, one of the center’s prime sponsors. In the letter, Hoeven and the delegation made the case that North Dakota and the USDA–ARS facility are uniquely qualified to host the center for a broad range of reasons.

NDSU Greenhouse

Another valuable research asset Hoeven helped to establish is the North Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station Research Greenhouse located on the NDSU campus. The project cost more than $33 million dollars and was funded with a combination of state dollars and private donations, beginning in 2007.

Centers of Excellence

Hoeven has worked to promote North Dakota’s biotechnology sector since he was governor, starting with the University of North Dakota Innovation Center, the state’s first Centers of Excellence project in 2003. Following that, the program continued to support bio and ag research, including the Center of Excellence for Agbiotechnology: Oilseed Development at NDSU in 2006, the Center of Excellence in Life Sciences & Advanced Technologies at UND in 2007 and the Center of Excellence for Passive Therapeutics University of North Dakota Research Foundation in 2009.