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Thorold biotech firm eyes U.S expansion as market continues to heat up

Norgen Biotek expands its product line with cannabis test kits, home diagnostics
Youssef Haj-Ahmad
Dr. Yousef Haj-Ahmad inspects a batch of vials at Norgens Thorold facility in early 2020. Photo: Ludvig Drevfjall/Thorold News

A Thorold company could soon expand to the U.S as the pandemic continues to put high pressure and demand on their products.

Towards the end of this year, Norgen Biotek could open up a location in Buffalo, N.Y, as the company’s products continue to be a hot commodity on the global market.

“The things we produce now, we can do with our current space, but other things might take off, in the millions, so we need space to expand,” said the company CEO and founder Yousef Haj-Ahmad in an interview with ThoroldToday.

“If some of our products are going to be used by U.S agencies, they want them to be manufactured in the country.”

Norgen has over the past two years been heavily focused on supplying laboratories and healthcare facilities worldwide with testing kits for the coronavirus.

The ones manufactured at Schmon Pkwy. in Thorold hold up to the global standards for detecting the presence of the virus with the help of a swab, which could soon be done through saliva alone by spitting into a test tube.

Exports have been ramping up with North America being the primary market.

But while the Covid-pandemic has been almost exclusively been the company’s focus over the past two years, new markets are emerging with increased demand for home testing for other viruses, including respiratory- and sexually transmitted ones.

“We are moving into an era over the next decade or so, where people will want to be able to test themselves at home without having to go to a hospital,” Haj-Ahmad said.

“It is the way of the future.”

He mentions the U.S military as a hypothetical client, that could be interested in large quantities of urine- or saliva tests for various conditions.

"Buffalo as a location is also close. We are right next door, and could easily bring people over here for training from the U.S, and the airport is right there, from where you can reach the entire U.S"

But there are also markets emerging outside of the medical field.

Cannabis producers have begun turning to Haj-Ahmad to get help monitoring for plant pathogens that could degrade the quality of their weed.

Hop Latent Viroid, or HLVd, first became a concern for cannabis producers in California in 2018 when they noticed crops were being affected by the plant pathogen, which degrades the quality of the cannabis.

“This viroid spreads very quickly between plants. Since they are growing in warehouses, it could spread easily among the plants,” Haj-Ahmad said.

“And we have the people and the know-how on how to make these kits, and there is no specific limitation. These kits are really the only way you can monitor your crop for this.”

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Ludvig Drevfjall

About the Author: Ludvig Drevfjall

Ludvig Drevfjall has been the editor of ThoroldToday since January 2020. He has worked as a journalist in Sweden, British Columbia and Ontario
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