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June 17, 2020

Portland biotech firm gets $500K loan from MTI

ImmuCell Corp. (Nasdaq: ICCC), a Portland biotech company that makes preventive health products for beef and dairy cattle, said it has received a $500,000 loan from the Maine Technology Institute that will help it boost its production capacity.

Production increases are planned for the company's First Defense treatment for E. coli in newborn calves and to complete the development of Re-Tain, a treatment for a common disease in lactating cows that causes an estimated $2 billion in harm to the dairy industry annually. 

The company is in the final stages of getting approval for Re-Tain from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, according to ImmuCell's website. It aims to ramp up production at a new 14,300-square-foot facility it has leased and renovated at 175 Industrial Way in Portland.

“This funding represents another building block in our financing strategy to pay for the expansion of our First Defense production capacity and the commercialization of Re-Tain,” ImmuCell President and CEO Michael F. Brigham said in a news release. “The support from the state of Maine with this innovative financial instrument helps us move forward confidently with our growth investments and employee hiring plans.”

A company spokesperson was not immediately available to share details about the expected timeline for getting FDA approval and market launch, or more about the company's ongoing expansion.

Loan terms

The first two-plus years of the loan from MTI will be interest-free with no required principal payments.

Principal and interest payments at 5% per year are due quarterly over the five-year period beginning in the fourth quarter of 2022. The loan may be prepaid without penalty at any time.

ImmuCell said the property improvements are needed to boost its annual production capacity of First Defense from about $18 million to $26 million, and that the relocation of the capsule assembly functions to the new facility to create space for the installation of increased freeze-drying capacity is critical to filling the current backlog of orders.

It also said that the MTI funding will help it move ahead with the second phase of its expansion plan, which entails relocating  the gel assembly functions to the new facility to create space for the installation of increased liquid processing capacity.

ImmuCell's sales in the first quarter rose a record 11% over the previous year to $4.9 million, with sales of its First Defense product line climbing 16%, the company reported on May 13.  

Shares were up 1% Wednesday morning at $4.52, giving it a market capitalization of around $32.6 million.

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