LightDeck sets aggressive timeline for Longmont expansion

This article first ran on BizWest and can be accessed here.

By LUCAS HIGH

LightDeck Diagnostics, a Boulder-based diagnostic-testing company, plans to be up and running in its new Longmont manufacturing facility by this time next year. 

The company is planning to open a $37.5 million, 200-worker operation at 1844 Nelson Road, a 65,000-square-foot leased building that was formerly home to a division of General Electric Co. (NYSE: GE). 

“A lot of (the decision to expand into Longmont) is driven by speed,” LightDeck CEO Nick Traggis told BizWest. “The current state of the facility and the support we’re getting from the city allows us to move more quickly than in other buildings where we might have to do additional construction work or navigate additional permitting issues.” 

LightDeck Diagnostics, which will maintain its Boulder headquarters, is a trade name for mBio Diagnostics Inc. The company has developed the LightDeck testing platform that combines an advanced laser waveguide with novel materials to conduct rapid testing, and has developed numerous diagnostic tests, including some developed during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Traggis said the Longmont facility will have the capacity to build millions of diagnostic platforms every year. 

The company is seeking about $300,000 in tax and fee rebates to begin its manufacturing center. An ordinance to award this incentive package is set to be introduced Tuesday on Longmont City Council’s consent agenda, with a public hearing and final vote likely to occur later this month. 

“The city is quite supportive of industry, and that’s given us some encouragement to move there,” Traggis said.

Earlier this year, the company secured a $35.1 million contract from the U.S. Department of Defense to increase production capacity of its COVID-19 antibody test. 

“We’re pretty bullish about the receipt of that award and what it means in terms of validation of us being on the right track,” Traggis said, adding that the federal funding has allowed LightDeck to move forward with scaled manufacturing prior to certain regulatory approvals. “That’s pretty unique timing.” 

LightDeck is also soliciting a new fundraising round to help scale its manufacturing efforts. “We want to bring in some new capital to really complement this factory,” Traggis said. 

The company recently inked a deal with Loveland-based Hach Co., a subsidiary of Danaher Corp. that conducts water-quality analysis. Hach sells a LightDeck test that detects two of the most-common toxins in harmful algae blooms. 

LightDeck — which last year expanded its Boulder leased space at 5603 Arapahoe Ave., adding 10,000 square feet for a total of 27,000 square feet — also works with Heska Corp. (Nasdaq: HSKA), a Loveland-based veterinary pharmaceutical company. 

The potential success of LightDeck’s COVID-19 diagnostic platform is expected to have a carryover effect for its other products. 

“The platform we’re using, the instrument, the consumable cartridges are the same for all of our products,” Traggis said. “As we ramp up production with this new factory, our other partners will benefit from our ability to provide higher product volumes at a lower cost structure.” 

© 2021 BizWest Media LLC

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