Sunset Park-based biotech firm Aanika BioSciences is ramping up its footprint in Industry City. The company, which uses genetic engineering to underwrite insurance policies on food items, is growing its facility by 23,500 square feet while significantly expanding its headcount. 

According to Vishaal Bhuyan, the founder and CEO of the company, Aanika is looking to triple its workforce from less than 20 employees to 60 in the next 18 to 24 months to support its expanding research and insurance businesses. The company began commercial operations two months ago, Bhuyan said, and Aanika is now looking to scale its business while taking advantage of local biotech talent.

“Our business model is taking biotechnology and merging it with new ways to underwrite risks,” Bhuyan said. “So not only are we going to have more scientists in this space, but we are adding to our insurance platform. We’re looking to even provide space for other technologies that can work in parallel with ours and be complementary.”

Started in late 2017, Aanika has the goal of streamlining insurance underwriting for food products. Food distributors such as grocery stores and restaurants, for example, might want to be able to insure produce in case of an E-coli outbreak or other types of food contamination. Aanika manufactures edible tags that can be added to specific food products to denote they have been insured that are then used to write insurance policies.    

This type of insurance underwriting has been considered cumbersome, Bhuyan said, due to the challenges in identifying specific items along an entire supply chain. 

The company is backed by a number of investors including Cayman Island-based insurance firm Greenlight RE and venture capital firms SOSV, Draper Associates, W11, Gaingels and Plug & Play Ventures, to name a few. Bhuyan said Aanika has also secured public resources to fund the buildout of its manufacturing facility in Industry City. 

Bhuyan declined to share revenue figures for the company, but Aanika received $12 million in Series A funding from Adit Ventures in 2021, according to reports. 

The company’s expansion in Brooklyn comes during a tumultuous time for the city’s life sciences sector, which saw less than 7,000 square feet of new leasing activity in the first quarter of 2023. 

Crains reported that, according to brokerage firm CBRE, the vacancy rate for life sciences space in the city reached 39% in the first quarter of the year, while a total of 210,000 square feet of real estate remain available to support the industry.   

Read the article from Crain’s here.

Learn more about leasing office space at IC here.

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