As the mRNA field has become more popular in recent years, largely due to the development of some very popular Covid-19 vaccines, such as those from Moderna and BioNTech, more and more companies are looking to raise funds to accommodate its production.
German chemical company Wacker Chemie AG, which has been around since 1914, is a mainstay in the production of silicone products and other medicinal chemicals, but its biotech division is now looking to punch nine figures in mRNA production.
On Tuesday, the company announced that it would invest more than 100 million euros, or more than $101 million, to develop the company’s biotech site in Halle, Germany into a new ingredient manufacturing center. mRNA assets.
The site’s production capacity will more than triple as part of the expansion. According to Exyte design office, which is the designer and builder of the project, the site will add a total of 7,400 square meters to the gross floor area and 1,600 square meters will serve as a clean room. Four new production lines are to be built, with part of the space being made available to the German government for a preparedness program for possible future pandemics.
“We are pleased that our expertise in the manufacture of mRNA vaccines contributes to the fight against future pandemics. The expansion of our Halle site will create pandemic preparedness capacity and beyond,” said Christian Hartel, CEO of Wacker.
Foundation stone laid in Halle. In the photo, from left to right: Michael Zorn of the State Administration Office of Saxony-Anhalt; Egbert Geier, mayor of Halle; Melanie Käsmarker, Managing Director of Wacker Biotech GmbH; the Minister of Economy of Saxony-Anhalt, Sven Schulze; Christian Hartel, CEO of WACKER; Armin Willingmann, Minister for Science, Energy, Climate Protection and the Environment of Saxony-Anhalt; Wolfgang Büchele, CEO of Exyte; Guido Seidel, managing director of Wacker Biotech GmbH; Ulf-Marten Schmieder, CEO of Technologiepark Weinberg Campus and Joachim Bug, Deputy Director of the Center for Pandemic Vaccines and Therapeutics (ZEPAI). (Photo credit: Wacker Chemie AG)
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According to Wacker, the new building will have four floors, which will be connected to the existing building. In addition to the four production lines, the space will also contain storage areas and quality control laboratories, as well as offices and recreation rooms. The company intends to hire around 200 new employees as part of the expansion. New employees are sought in all departments, especially laboratory assistants, and production is expected to start in 2024.
Wacker’s investment in biotechnology is part of a larger corporate strategy. The company announced in March that it would significantly increase its investments in the biotechnology sector, as it plans to invest more than 80 million euros per year in this area over the next few years. By 2030, Wacker wants biotechnology to contribute around 1 billion euros to group sales.
The production of mRNA-related products has become a hot market, as Moderna and BioNTech are making great strides towards broader production of mRNA ingredients and vaccines. Pfizer, for its part, recently struck a deal to produce a synthetic DNA product, called doggybone DNA, from British biotech Touchlight.