With almost 20% annual growth, a unique business model and four operating sites, Paraza Pharma is planning to continue its expansion.
Quebec is a world leader in the pharmaceutical industry. A number of Quebec’s leading companies in the sector, such as Paraza Pharma Inc., which is dedicated to improving the efficiency of the drug discovery process, have settled in the Technoparc Montréal.
The company started its operations in Laval within the life sciences incubator (CQIB) exactly 10 years ago, in 2011, with two chemists. Two years later, as the company grew and developed new services, particularly in drug metabolism and pharmacokinetics (DMPK) and chemistry, it moved to the Technoparc Montréal at the NEOMED Institute (now adMare BioInnovations). The company quickly needed more space and in 2015 it purchased a 25,000 square foot site at the Technoparc, while keeping its facilities at the NEOMED Institute.
Today, Paraza Pharma has four operating sites: two in the Technoparc Montréal, one in Laval and one in the United States, for a total of 70,000 square feet of operations and 200 employees – the majority in Montreal.
Leaving Montreal and coming back
Paraza Pharma’s CEO, Arshad Siddiqui, has worked for almost 22 years in the biotechnology sector, holding several senior positions in various large pharmaceutical companies, including ShireBioChem Pharma in Montreal. Early 2000 saw a massive realignment of the pharmaceutical industry, and as a result, many of the pharma companies decided to terminate their R&D activities in the Montreal area and other parts of the globe as well, and many qualified scientists in the pharma sector were left with little choice but to move from the region.
As a result, Arshad Siddiqui decided to move across the border to Boston. However, he wanted to be in Montreal and he quickly realized that his contacts in the U.S. would allow him to come back. He finally returned in 2011 to create Paraza Pharma Inc.
A unique vision from the start
“I want to create the Apple of the world of contract research organizations, and be unique in that sense,” said Arshad Siddiqui, before he founded Paraza Pharma.
His vision guided him and still guides him today. Arshad wanted to create a unique pharmaceutical R&D organization that was intellectually on par with, and seen as an extension of, the client-partner’s R&D organization.
He wanted to create a contract research organization, but a different one. He didn’t want to offer services but collaboration. He didn’t want clients but partners. The idea of Paraza Pharma was therefore, from the start, to function as an extension of its partners for development and research services.
Growing demand in times of pandemic
The pandemic has not slowed down Paraza Pharma’s growth. With health regulations in place in the United States, where the majority of the company’s partners operate, many laboratories had to close or operate at reduced capacity. But the situation was quite different in Canada, as the government allowed pharmaceutical companies to remain open as an essential service. As a result, the whole research and development aspect of many partners has been delegated to Paraza Pharma.
Arshad is very positive and hopeful about the company’s future, and he expects continued growth in terms of additional services, jobs and space.