Stephanie Reisinger has worked in Harrisburg’s science and tech sector for over 16 years. In that time, she has experienced firsthand the benefits that the area can offer science and tech-focused companies.
And she is now sharing them with Evidera, a health care research company. She works for Evidera as president and general manager of a software unit called Evalytica.
Evidera didn’t start up in Harrisburg until 2014. But Reisinger and her five colleagues at the company first got into the region’s science and tech world much earlier, in 2000, when biotech startup GeneFormatics opened an engineering facility in Cumberland County.
GeneFormatics merged with another company in 2002, but almost all of its 30 employees continued to work in the Harrisburg area. Many joined biomedical informatics company ProSanos. Reisinger and five of the initial GeneFromatics employees ended up with Evidera in 2014.
“Harrisburg has a very good and a very loyal workforce,” said Reisinger. “You can keep employees for a long time if you’ve got a good position for them.”
And for the employees, Harrisburg has a number of benefits in terms of both convenience and quality of life.
“One of the biggest pros is clearly the low cost of living,” said Reisinger. “It’s a beautiful area and it’s close enough to all of the startups between Boston and North Carolina along the East Coast.”
San Francisco-based Evidera provides data for pharmaceutical companies by researching and testing the value of their drugs — figuring out how effective they are, how safe they are and how they compare to the competition, among other factors relevant to commercial success. It is a subsidiary of Pharmaceutical Product Development LLC.
In addition to attracting a faithful, committed workforce, the city is also developing a reputation for being accommodating to science and tech-based startups in particular.
“Harrisburg has some really good resources for startup businesses, with the Life Sciences Greenhouse and the Hershey Center for Applied Research, for example,” said Reisinger.
The Life Sciences Greenhouse, an organization that invests in early-stage life sciences technology, has been funding health care companies since 2002, while the Hershey Center has offered high-tech companies equipment, space and capital resources since May 2007.
The proximity of the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology offers another incentive for companies like Evidera.
As a relative newcomer to the high-tech industry, however, Harrisburg still has some catching up to do in terms of the latest developments in the technology sector.
“There’s a lot of technology here, but — we get this from our San Francisco office — there’s not a lot of new technology here,” Reisinger said. “Even though we’re the state capital, the technology base is mostly traditional technology, not ‘in the cloud’ or anything like that. While we have a great and loyal technology workforce and they’re not expensive, sometimes they’re not skilled in the latest technology.”