Business digest

C&I Issue 11, 2020

UK producer of speciality graphene nanoplatelet dispersions, Applied Graphene Materials, based at the Wilton Centre on Teesside, has launched Innovation Accelerator, an R&D service to support businesses to use graphene in their products.

International pharmaceutical company AOP Orphan Pharmaceutical, headquartered in Vienna, Austria, has taken over the Viennese pharmaceutical company Amomed and the Luxembourg-based health-tech company SciPharm.

Japanese pharma Astellas Pharma is to acquire start-up bioelectronics firm iota Biosciences. Astellas will make an initial payment of around $127.5m for the outstanding equity in iota it does not already hold. Iota’s shareholders will be eligible to receive additional payments of up to around $176.5m dependant on predetermined milestones reached within certain timeframes. Astellas has also committed to spending $125m over the next five years to aid the expansion of iota, which will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Astellas on completion of the transaction.

US gene therapy company Avrobio headquartered in Cambridge, MA, is collaborating with the University of Manchester, UK, on Manchester’s proprietary investigational gene therapy to treat Hunter syndrome. Avrobio will pay the university an upfront cash payment and additional development and regulatory milestone payments. The company will also pay the university royalty on annual net sales of licensed products and cover the costs for Phase 1/2 clinical trials.

German chemical distribution company Brenntag is acquiring Comelt and its subsidiary Aquadepur, both located in Northern Italy. Both companies focus on the processing, marketing, and distribution of activated and re-activated carbon for different applications such as water filtrat-ion and the purification of air and flue gas.

CellGenix, a German-headquartered supplier of materials for the cell and gene therapy and regenerative medicine markets, has expanded its production facility for cytokines and implemented a state-of-the art automated filling and freeze-drying line.

US biotechnology company Dyno Therapeutics has agreed for Swiss pharma major Roche to use its proprietary AI technology to develop vectors for gene therapies for central nervous system diseases, and for liver-directed therapies for the portfolios of both Roche and Spark Therapeutics, a member of the Roche Group. Dyno will receive an undisclosed upfront payment and will be eligible to receive additional milestone payments and royalties for any resulting products, which together may exceed $1.8bn.

US pharma major Eli Lilly is to acquire Disarm Therapeutics, a US biotech focusing on therapies for neurological diseases, for $135m. Disarm equity holders may be eligible for up to $1.23bn in future payments for development, regulatory and commercial milestones should Lilly commercialise new medicines resulting from the acquisition.

German speciality chemicals company Evonik is to close the smallest of its metamino plants in Wesseling, Germany by the end of Q1 2021. The company will, however, invest around €25m into upgrading its world-scale plant for methionine intermediates in Wesseling.

US biotechnology company Genesis Therapeutics, which uses AI for drug discovery and development, is collaborating with Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, to identify drug candidates for multiple disease areas. Genesis will receive an upfront payment and is eligible to receive agreed milestone payments, as well as future royalties on Genentech’s sales of approved drugs resulting from the collaboration.

GlaxoSmithKline has sold its manufacturing site in Poznań, Poland to French CDMO Delpharm. This deal is part of the British pharma’s move to sell around $1.3bn of its global assets to fund a public offering for a joint consumer healthcare venture with Pfizer.

Hungarian energy and chemicals company Mol has completed construction of its $10m rubber bitumen plant at its Zala site. The facility, which will recycle 8–10% of Hungary’s domestic tyre waste, can produce 20,000t of rubber bitumen annually for use in road construction.

Invested by UK headquartered life sciences group Abzena in a new facility for late phase and commercial cGMP manufacturing at the company’s site in San Diego, CA, US.
Cash offer from US pharma major Bristol Myers Squibb to acquire US-headquartered biopharmaceutical company MyoKardia, which focuses on therapies for cardiovascular disease. The transaction is anticipated to close during Q4 2020.
To be paid by German chemicals company Covestro to acquire the resins and functional materials business from Dutch global science company Royal DSM. The deal is being financed through an agreement that Covestro will refinance through a mix of equity, debt instruments and cash generation.
Investment by Belgian global biopharmaceutical company UCB over five years in an R&D hub in the UK. Based in Windlesham, Surrey, the facility is anticipated to be completed in November 2020 and will support R&D, early manufacturing, and commercialisation of medicines for immunological and neurological conditions.
Investment by US contract manufacturer Thermo Fischer to build a new sterile filling facility in Singapore. The facility will house two filling lines that will increase output up to 30m doses per month of drugs and vaccines. The plant, which has backing from the Singapore Economic Development Board, is set to go online in 2022.

US medical device company Imbio, which focuses on AI solutions for imaging analysis, is partnering with Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, to develop quantitative imaging diagnostics for lung diseases. The multi-year collaboration will use Imbio’s expertise in imaging biomarkers with Genentech’s pulmonary disease expertise to enhance drug discovery.

US start-up INCOG BioPharma Services, which specialises in injectable drug products, is investing $60m to build and equip its first manufacturing facility and global headquarters in Fishers, Indiana. The company will serve as a CDMO for the biopharma industry.

UK biopharma company Lakes BioScience has submitted plans to South Lakeland District Council to build a fast response manufacturing and process development factory in Ulverston. Named Project Apex, the factory would create about 250 high-value jobs and play a part in the fight against Covid-19 and future pandemics.

US biopharmaceutical company Ligand Pharmaceuticals, located in San Diego, CA, has sold its research operations Vernalis to Chinese biotechnology company HitGen for $25m in cash. Ligand will retain economic rights on completed collaboration licenses as well as a share of the economic rights on current research collaboration contracts. In addition, Vernalis will continue to support certain existing Ligand partnerships.

German science and technology company Merck KGaA has opened a new membrane production plant in Darmstadt, Germany. In addition, the company has launched a new viral vector platform VirusExpress and has selected biotech Combined Therapeutics as the North American winner of its 2020 Advance Biotech Grant Program. The biotech was nominated for its nucleic acid platform which, combined with virotherapy, has the potential to treat liver cancer.

Novotech and PPC Group, two Asia-Pacific CROs, have formed a partnership to meet the growing demand for clinical trials in the region. The companies will share an integrated governance structure as well as aligned systems and processes. Both companies will continue to retain their own management teams, office locations and brands.

US technology company NVidia, based in Santa Clara, CA, is building a powerful supercomputer for UK healthcare researchers investigating Covid-19, for example. The supercomputer, Cambridge-1, is expected to come online by the end of 2020.

US global CRO PPD, headquartered in Wilmington, NC, is opening a laboratory in Suzhou, China, to support China-based biotechs and Western pharma companies managing China research studies. The facility, which is expected to be fully operational in 2021, will offer bioanalytical, biomarker and vaccine services to support trials across all phases of pharmaceutical development.

Swiss multinational healthcare company Roche is investing $500m over five years in Ontario’s life sciences industry. This will establish Roche’s global pharma technical operations site at its Canadian headquarters in Mississauga.

US global biotechnology company Seattle Genetics, headquartered in Seattle, Washington, has changed its name to Seagen. The company’s common stock will continue to trade under its current ticker symbol SGEN.

Global life sciences company Siegfried, headquartered in Switzerland, has signed a binding agreement to acquire two pharmaceutical manufacturing sites in Spain from Novartis. The two sites in the Barcelona province – El Masnou and Barberà del Vallès – manufacture ophthalmic steriles and capsules used in inhalation devices, respectively.

Siemens Smart Infrastructure, which focuses on intelligently connecting energy systems, buildings and industries and German hydrogen company WUN H2 are collaborating to build a hydrogen production plant in Wunsiedel, Germany. The plant will run on renewable energy and will be CO2-free, and produce over 900t of hydrogen/year in this first phase. When fully expanded, it will supply up to 2,000t/yr.

Japanese pharma major Takeda Pharmaceutical has signed a five-year agreement with multinational professional services company Accenture and Amazon Web Services to accelerate Takeda’s digital transformation.

Casio Computer is using BASF’s high performance Ultramid Advanced N flame retardant polyphthalamide (PPA) to produce the terminal header in its G-Shock GBD-H1000 digital watch and fitness tracker. The terminal header sits on the terminal block and contributes to power charging and data synchronisation. The high heat resistance, low moisture uptake and mechanical and dimensional stability of the Ultramid material are said to make it particularly suitable for surface mount technology in electronics manufacturing. US fuel cell engine producer Nuvera Fuel Cells has also used Ultramid Advanced N for several components in its latest 45kW fuel cell engine, which is expected to be used for buses and delivery vehicles in China.
Sabic has supplied its Lexan polycarbonate, based on renewable feedstock, for several extruded lighting end products produced by Germany’s Elkamet Kunststofftechnik. Lexan is part of the company’s Trucircle solutions for certified renewable products, and can potentially result in reductions of up to 61% in carbon footprint and up to 35% fossil depletion reduction.
Evonik has launched a new enteric drug coating Eudratec Fasteric in its Eudragit range of functional coatings and drug delivery technologies. The new coating is said to release, on average, 90% of its dose within 30 minutes of its arrival at a redefined pH between 3.0 and 5.5, particularly in the upper small intestine where there is a narrow absorption window. It can be processed on standard equipment and is suitable for a range of oral dosage forms including multiparticulates, tablets and capsules.
Korea’s Songwon has expanded its halogen-free range of Songflame WB flame retardant synergists with Songflame WB201, a solvent-free, aqueous dispersion designed for coatings, adhesives, sealants and elastomers as well as textile applications. The dispersion has low viscosity and high active content contributing to its ease of handling.

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