Wednesday, July 30, 2014
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Iroko's new office has facilities for yoga, meditation and lactation

Iroko Pharmaceuticals' new office at the Navy Yard will have a subsidized cafeteria and a gym, with yoga and meditation, but still retains cubicles for employees.

Iroko's new office has facilities for yoga, meditation and lactation

Iroko Pharmaceuticals cut the ribbon on a new building in the Philadelphia Navy Yard Wednesday.

The company is developing a type of painkiller referred to as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NASID). The scientific trick they are trying is to take established medicines and apply "sub-micron" technology to the active ingredient so a smaller dosage is needed to relieve the pain and lessen the side effects.

Iroko is licensing the process for this type of drug from iCeutica, also a private company that also has headquarters at the Navy Yard, albeit with a research and development laboratory in King of Prussia.

Thursday's Inquirer story is here.

Osagie Imasogie wears a couple hats in this equation. He is the senior managing partner with Phoenix IP Ventures, a life sciences private equity firm, which invests in both Iorko and iCeutica. Kew Capital LLC is the other large investor in Iroko.

Iroko worked with the developers at Liberty Trust to get what it wanted from the configuration of the building.

Some of that is due to the Navy Yard not yet having a batch of restaurants.

"When people said they were going out to lunch, they were really going out to lunch," said chief executive officer John Vavricka.

The four-story, 56,000-square foot building has a full kitchen that provides subsidized lunches and free drinks. A trainer will be in the gym for four hours midday three days a week. There is yoga, meditation and a lactation room. The building is all glass on the north and east sides and has large windows on the south and east, for the sake of energy efficiency.

The stairwells are nicer than many buildings, with Pennsylvania bluestone steps, in hopes that employees will use them for the sake of fitness. For brainstorming sessions (or reversions to childhood), there is a graffiti room where you can write on the wall.

Some of that is the Google model of trying to keep thinking professionals thinking and working on site.

"The main objective is to create an environment that is most conducive for creativity," Imasogie said. "We are in the intellectual property business. One good idea can translate into significant value. It is the right investment for us."

Both Imasogie and Vavricka spent time with GlaxoSmithKline or its forbearers.

Glaxo will soon move into a larger new building within a few hundred yards of Iroko. Glaxo is vacating offices at Logan Circle in Center City in part because it tired of paying for empty cubicles borne of staff reductions. The new office will have an open-space layout. The tables will have electrical outlets, phone and Internet connections. Employees will store belongings in a locker.

Iroko is not following suit.

"Our employees were hoping - and saying - 'Please don't do that,' so we have listened to that," Vavricka said. "With the open office concept, you will have a lot people working from home. We need people to work together."

 

David Sell
About this blog
David Sell blogs about the region's pharmaceutical industry. Follow him on Facebook.

For Inquirer.com. Portions of this blog may also be found in the Inquirer's Sunday Health Section.

Reach David at dsell@phillynews.com.

David Sell
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