Kat Taylor of GenoTyping Center of America is among the five businesses at the Union River Center for Innovation, which Ellsworth city officials launched in 2016. The center's goal: to help grow small businesses that are the backbone of Maine's economy.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — A biotechnology firm is expanding as part of the city’s plans to create spin-offs to a $200 million mice breeding center that opened in Ellsworth last week.

GenoTyping Center of America will remain headquartered at the Union River Center for Innovation of Ellsworth, but much of its genetic testing of research animals has moved to Waterville because one of its founders lives near there, GenoType owner Kat Taylor said.

Ellsworth “is a hub for our type of thing — research and development and science,” Taylor said Friday.

Credit: Nick Sambides Jr.

Biotech business made big news when the Jackson Laboratory opened a vivarium off Ellsworth’s Kingsland Crossing on Thursday. The facility, which breeds mice for research use, is expected to bring 350 jobs to Ellsworth and 135 to Jackson’s Bar Harbor site.

As an employer of only a half-dozen people, GenoTyping is miniscule compared to Jackson Lab. Yet, it is the kind of biotech startup that city officials hoped to grow when they and Jackson Lab opened the Union River center in 2016, said Micki Sumpter, Ellsworth’s economic development director.

Vast enterprises such as Jackson are rare. The majority of Maine businesses — 145,536, or 99.3 percent — are considered small, with fewer than 500 workers, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Of them, 113,012 were single-employee businesses and another 29,292 employed up to 20 workers.

“Six people to me for a startup that has worked only for a few years, that’s a lot. It takes time to grow a business,” Sumpter said.

“I have been very impressed with GenoTyping because they have done it without a lot of debt. To expand without debt made them much more marketable. Now they are getting more customers on a daily basis,” she added.

Credit: Nick Sambides Jr.

GenoTyping started with a full-time and a second part-time employees in 2012. It is the second business to grow beyond the Union River center since it opened. Portions of HydroPhoton moved when the company was bought by Katadyn last year. HydroPhoton invented the SteriPEN, a device that sterilizes drinking water with ultraviolet light, according to Katadyn’s website.

The center has five of its six offices filled and caters to another dozen individuals developing business plans, Sumpter said.

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