Minority-owned company brings testing facility to Cheyney University

Cheyney University's new science center (Facebook.com)

By Ayana Jones

Sure-BioChem Laboratories, LLC, has become the latest company to form a corporate partnership with Cheyney University.

The minority woman-owned small business has opened a new testing facility in Cheyney’s Science Center. SBL specializes in providing microbial and chemistry testing services for the government, biotechnology medical device, environmental and food manufacturing industries.

Rafiq Heigler, chief operating officer of SBL, said that the company wanted to partner with a leading historically Black college or university.

“HBCUs are near and dear to my heart because I am a product of one,” said Heigler, a graduate of Delaware State University.

“So I have a true sense and belief in the importance of HBCUs for our community.”

He said that coupled with the opportunity of being able to house the lab in “a state-of-the-art facility and expose students to life science opportunities that they may not have considered were all win-wins.”

The Camden, N.J.-based company has operated its new space at Cheyney since the end of June. At the site, several sectors work together, including field technicians who collect samples, lab technicians who process the samples, project managers who generate reports for customers, and a sales and marketing team.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for our students to learn and work in science-related careers,” Cheyney University President Aaron Walton said in a written statement.

“Sure-BioChem Laboratories will add to our ongoing corporate collaborations and provide more internships and career development opportunities for our students.”

Due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and the heightened attention to having clean surface areas, there have been several new industries seeking SBL’s services.

“In this new normal, a lot of companies are looking to test the efficacy of their products or even validate some of their cleaning procedures or processes, and these are things that we are able to assist with,” Heigler said.

SBL is one of several businesses referred to Cheyney by Mosaic Development Partners, a Philadelphia-based real estate developer, which was engaged by the university in 2019 to advise on its campus monetization efforts.

The company joins several life science companies that are also located in the Science Center, providing paid internships for students and conducting research in areas such as cancer studies, analytical sciences and pharmaceuticals. Cheyney has formed new corporate partnerships with Epcot Crenshaw Corporation, a company that develops technologies to solve environmental problems; Navrogen, a bio-pharma research and development operations company; and ASI Chemicals, a start-up firm that manufacturers chemicals for pharmaceutical products.

SBL and these companies will be joined by Advanced Alchemy Labs, a company that farms and processes hemp for medicinal purposes. Advanced Alchemy Labs will begin operating a facility on Cheyney’s campus in the second half of the year.

Ayana Jones is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared