Nick Malhomme grew up in the U.K. and spent the past 16 years living in Spain and France, so he knows a thing or two about adjusting to new places. But still, he was surprised when he met his new neighbors in the Greater Philadelphia town of Wynnewood. 

“We wanted to meet people, so we invited neighbors over for a couple of drinks,” said Malhomme, the International Development Director at Preventx, a U.K.-based provider of at-home sexual health testing. “I had been getting around by walking and cycling and maneuvering about. And one of the neighbors said, ‘Nick, I saw you walking around. We’ve got a spare car. If you need it to shop or have any other issues, just give us a shout, and I’ll give you the keys.’”

Malhomme knew then that he and Preventx had found a home. Of course, Malhomme didn’t open Preventx’s first U.S. sales headquarters in Greater Philadelphia this year just so that he could have a free ride. 

“The place we picked had to be a great place to do business,” he said.

One factor was the proximity to key markets on the East Coast, such as Boston, New York, Baltimore, and Washington, and with the airport, it’s easy to get to Atlanta, for example, to meet with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Another allure was the depth and richness of Greater Philadelphia’s healthcare ecosystem. One in six doctors in the U.S. have trained in Philadelphia, and 80% of U.S. pharmaceutical and biotech companies have a presence in the region.

“What I find is that it’s much easier to build playbooks that you can take and use elsewhere in other big cities because you’ve got those personal connections from Philadelphia,” Malhomme said. “The combination of public health and the broader health system and the academic sphere allows me to work and build out models that I can take to Chicago and New York.”

A New Approach to STD Testing

Preventx helps people navigate one of the most sensitive areas of health care – testing for sexually transmitted diseases. All too often, people are reluctant to go to their family physicians or other providers out of embarrassment. 

“If you’ve known your family physician since you were a child – the same practitioner who is treating your parents and your brothers and your grandparents, you don’t really want to go back when you are 18 and say, actually, you know, I may have a sexually transmitted infection,” Malhomme said.

Preventx offers at-home testing with samples sent to a company-owned laboratory and access to an adaptable digital platform to monitor your results.

In England, the company works closely with the National Health Service and tests more than 600,000 people a year. Now, the company hopes to build similar partnerships with public health agencies in the U.S., where rates of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) have been on the rise. In 2021, the most recent numbers available, the CDC reported 2.5 million cases in the U.S.

Many of those cases involved people in underserved populations – who can benefit from the Preventx system, he said. 

“In Philadelphia, for example, there are people who fall through the cracks who are not necessarily on the traditional health care pathways, and this gives us an opportunity to access some of those patients,” he said.

Preventx opened a testing laboratory in Cincinnati last year with three staff members, and Malhomme opened the sales office in Greater Philadelphia soon after. The company expects to expand its employee base, as relationships with public health agencies are strengthened and the business grows.

The Chamber as a Starting Point

The opportunity to nurture relationships across the health ecosystem and business community helps explain why he chose to settle in Philadelphia.

“The Chamber of Commerce was my starting point in Philadelphia, and I can’t speak highly enough of them,” he said. “There’s a common theme here, which is just the sort of warmth and the welcome that I got.”

The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia has provided personal connections and a sense of dynamism that has proven invaluable, he said.

“I’ve spent time in New York, and I don’t want to get on New York, but people there aren’t as willing to invest that personal time,” he said. “People here (in Greater Philadelphia) just go out of their way to make you feel welcome.”

James Medaglio, Director, Business Attraction and Expansion at the Chamber, said he hears similar comments often.

“The business community in Philadelphia is filled with innovative and exciting companies whose reach extends across the world,” he said. “But they never forget where they come from, and they’re always willing to help each other grow and prosper. It means something special to say you’re from Philadelphia.”

As for Malhomme, he still hasn’t gotten a car. But that hasn’t stopped him, his wife, and son from experiencing all that Greater Philadelphia has to offer.

“We get out to discuss the neighborhoods and the museums and the galleries, even when we’re sometimes dragging our 13-year-old against his will because he wants to go out and play soccer.”

In addition to visits to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Franklin Institute, and Barnes Foundation, he and his family have also embraced two other things that Philadelphians are passionate about: sports and food. He admits that he is still trying to learn the rules of American football, though he has adopted the Eagles. And he’s looking forward to World Cup games at Lincoln Financial Field in 2026.

His wife, meanwhile, is from the south of France, and they were used to local markets where farmers would come to sell their fresh produce. He admits that they were spoiled. But, he said, his wife is quickly building her own local food network, including an Italian deli and a Korean market.

“Like any cosmopolitan city, Philadelphia has its challenges, but it’s such a multi-faceted city,” he said. “It’s a real city; a living city.”

For more information about how the region and how the Chamber can support your company’s location and expansion efforts, visit Select Greater Philadelphia. Click on this link for a guide to markets in Philadelphia.