Southern California is one of the more desirable hubs for life sciences, with a combination of large cities such as Los Angeles and San Diego and suburban enclaves. One of the many attractive locations is Irvine, a city of over 220,000 people that houses large companies such as Masimo and Edwards Lifesciences.
When NAMSA opened a lab there in 1977, there was no way to imagine the city would become as large as it is now. Gina Skolmowski, NAMSA’s vice president of operations, moved to the city in 1998 and lived there for seven years. “I’ve watched it grow tremendously in that short amount of time,” she says.
The company’s specialty since it was founded 45 years ago in Northwood, OH, includes sterility assurance and biocompatibility. They work with a variety of medical device manufacturers from large industry leaders to small start-ups.
NAMSA is also expanding in Irvine, growing their laboratory facility by 20,000 sq ft, growing the usable capacity by nearly 50%. The company is growing many of its facilities, as there is an increase in demand for in sterility assurance and analytical services. Skolmowski says that, with FDA looking at more information on materials and their characterizations, not to mention how they are used in medical devices, the demand for these services are growing.
“As more and more information becomes available, it leads them to ask more and more questions,” Skolmowski says. “That seems to be driving more characterization data.”
Irvine is one of NAMSA’s laboratory facilities throughout the world, which include two labs in the Minneapolis area and one in Lyon, France. It has additional offices throughout the world, including in China, Japan, and Germany.
Irvine is a planned suburban community in Orange County, central to both the greater Los Angeles and San Diego areas. It is known for being a strong business hub, with headquarters for a variety of industries, including life sciences. It also has a pool of talent coming from advanced learning institutions such as the University of California, Irvine.
One of the biggest improvements that NAMSA has taken on in the Irvine expansion is the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, standards. NAMSA built their facility to fit a silver qualification, and although the company didn't seek the ranking and the improvements don’t relate to the services that the supplier offers, Skolmowski says that the company feels that it’s important to be environmentally conscious.
“We considered those factors in the building of that facility, and the building activities that occurred with that facility,” she says.
As for the future, NAMSA intends to keep playing to its strengths, as well as expand several of their other laboratory facilities, including the location in Lyon. They also expect to hire additional staff, as there is more work to be had in the expansion.
Reina V. Slutske is the assistant editor for MD+DI.