Athari Biosciences, a rapid-growth, minority- and woman-owned startup focused on improving equity and inclusion across all facets of healthcare, announced it has selected Loudoun County, for its new corporate headquarters, according to a Dec. 2 release.
The project includes a wet lab, a tech lab, research and development and office space and is expected to open in early 2022, the release states. The project is expected to create 50 jobs with a total investment of $5 million.
The Loudoun County Board of Supervisors passed a cash incentive of $120,000 to support the completion of the lab space at its Dec. 7 business meeting. The incentive has been proposed by Loudoun Economic Development, which worked closely with Athari’s leadership team in the search for the firm’s long-term home, outcompeting multiple locations in Maryland.
“We are very proud to welcome Athari to our innovative business ecosystem at the nexus of health and technology,” said Buddy Rizer, Loudoun Economic Development’s executive director, in a prepared statement.
“The need for equitable health technology has become evident over the past two years, and Athari’s commitment to Loudoun reinforces the opportunities for innovation in our community,” he said.
Founder and CEO Susan Mitchell is a serial entrepreneur, previously co-founding Guardians of Honor, a grants management, research and evaluation government contract consulting firm, the release states. After living in Loudoun County for more than 20 years and serving as a board member for STEM for Her, vice chair of the Loudoun Chamber’s GovCon Committee, and a recently appointed member of Loudoun’s Economic Development Advisory Commission, Mitchell prioritized locating her latest venture in Loudoun.
“The word ‘Athari’ means ‘impact’ in Swahili,” Mitchell said in a prepared statement. “Progress happens when we unite the best and brightest minds through a common purpose, and the place to do that is in Loudoun County.”
“Loudoun’s ready access to smart people, wet and tech lab space, and the populations we serve, make it the perfect place for our health equity accelerator,” she said. “Now that we know our ‘where,’ we can work to diversify the ‘who’ and ‘how’ of STEM industries, fixing the problem of underrepresentation and increasing our global health insights.”
According to 2021 research from the Bedford Group, individuals who identify as female represent just 14.2% of biohealth industry leadership, while minorities comprise only 14% of leadership. A lack of representation can also be found in research and development teams, lab technicians and the very datasets that drive medical understanding, the Dec. 2 release states.
“Healthcare innovation and equity are issues that are very close to my heart, and I’m delighted to have Athari develop tomorrow’s solutions, today in Loudoun County,” said Board of Supervisors Chair Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) in a prepared statement. “The Athari team is in the business of whole-person wellness, and I applaud their efforts for healthcare rooted in humanity.”
Athari looks to create a free-flow of information within the healthcare industry, offering research and development, lab services, education and training as solutions to address health inequity, the release states. Services include research and development that positively impacts population health, product commercialization, and pipeline development.
“As we work to grow and diversify our economy, we view the intersection of health and technology as a unique opportunity to leverage our world-class digital infrastructure,” said Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles), who serves as chair of the board’s finance committee. “Athari will be well suited to take advantage of Loudoun’s world class workforce and infrastructure to continue to grow, and I thank them for their investment in Loudoun.”