Business digest

C&I Issue 10, 2021

Read time: 7 mins

Canadian biotechnology company AbCellera is collaborating with US biotechnology company Moderna. The partnership will use AbCellera’s artificial intelligence technology to search and analyse natural immune responses to identify therapeutic antibodies against up to six targets selected by Moderna. Moderna will have the rights to develop and commercialise antibodies resulting from the collaboration. AbCellera will receive milestone payments and royalties on net sales of products.

UK-headquartered oncology company Adaptimmune Therapeutics is collaborating with Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, to develop allogeneic cell therapies to treat various cancers. Adaptimmune will receive an upfront payment of $150m and additional payments of $150m over five years unless the agreement is terminated. In addition, Adaptimmune may be eligible to receive success milestones payments potentially exceeding $3bn.

AstraZeneca is collaborating with VaxEquity, a spin-out from Imperial College London, to develop the latter’s RNA therapeutics. AstraZeneca will provide R&D funding for up to 26 drug targets and should AstraZeneca advance any of the research programmes into its pipeline, VaxEquity could receive up to $195m in milestone payments. In addition, the British-Swedish pharma major is investing $360m to build an API manufacturing facility for small molecules in Dublin, Ireland.

Healthcare investors Avista Capital Partners and Nordic Capital have agreed to sell Acino, a Swiss pharmaceutical company headquartered in Zurich, to Abu Dhabi-based investment firm ADQ.

Swiss multinational chemicals and biotech company Lonza is investing in additional drug product manufacturing capabilities at its site in Stein, Switzerland. The facility, which is expected to be completed in 2023, will allow Lonza to process gene therapy products. The company is also expanding its drug product services in Basel, which is expected to be operational in 2024. In addition, Lonza is collaborating with Danish precision medicine company Allarity Therapeutics to develop and manufacture Allarity’s anticancer drug dovitinib.

German chemicals giant BASF is partnering with Chinese battery manufacturer and recycling company Contemporary Amperex Technology to develop a sustainable battery value chain, which will contribute to both companies’ global carbon neutrality goals.

German pharma major and life sciences company Bayer is expanding its vegetable seeds offerings to include organically produced seed for tomato, sweet pepper and cucumber. The launch of the organic portfolio is planned for early 2022. Meanwhile, Bayer is collaborating with Danish biotech company Gubra to develop peptide therapeutics to treat cardiorenal diseases. The collaboration will use Gubra’s machine learning-based peptide drug discovery platform to identify therapeutic candidates. Gubra will receive an upfront payment and potential milestone payments of up to €216m.

German pharma major Boehringer Ingelheim has acquired US-based biopharmaceutical company Abexxa Biologics, which focuses on immuno-oncology and oncology research. The acquisition will allow Boehringer to target cancer-specific proteins inside the cell, broadening the pool of potential cancer antigen targets. In addition, the pharma major is collaborating with US synthetic biology company Twist Bioscience to use Twist’s proprietary antibody libraries to discover therapeutic antibodies against multiple targets. Twist will receive an upfront payment and the potential to earn up to a total of $710m in success-based milestone payments.

US cell and gene therapy CDMO Genezen Laboratories has received a growth equity investment from healthcare investors Ampersand Capital Partners. The funding will be used to construct a cGMP-compliant viral vector production facility, which will also offer a suite of process development and analytical capabilities.

75m t CO2
Captured and stored pa by 2040 if carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology is implemented in Houston, Texas, US, because of an initiative agreed by 11 companies in the area. Calpine, Chevron, Dow, ExxonMobil, INEOS, Linde, LyondellBasell, Marathon Petroleum, NRG Energy, Phillips 66 and Valero are considering using the technology at facilities that generate electricity and manufacture products such as plastics, fuels and packaging.

Invested by French CRO/CMO Clean Cells, part of the Clean Biologics Group, for a new production facility in Montaigu Vendée. The facility will quadruple its analysis and production capacity for biopharmaceuticals, thus speeding the development and time-to-market of novel treatments, including Covid-19 vaccines.

Investment by German science and technology company Merck KgaA in its electronics business sector up to the end of 2025. The investment will focus on R&D with more than €2bn ear-marked for long-term fixed assets. In addition, the company is investing around €28m in a second silica-based pigments production line in Gernsheim as part of its surface solutions business.

Investment by Ineos Grangemouth towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions at its site to net zero by 2045. The investment will include energy reduction and optimisation, and a shift in the company’s polymer product portfolio to include higher levels of post-consumer recycled content. This money is in addition to the £500m already committed by INEOS on projects including its New Energy Plant, which is due for completion in late 2023.

US laboratory equipment manufacturer Thermo Fisher Scientific will establish a manufacturing facility in Nashville, TN, dedicated to the production of single-use technologies (SUT) products. The facility will more than double the company’s SUT manufacturing capacity to support its biopharma customers.

Swiss energy company H2 Energy Europe is partnering with the Danish government to use electricity from offshore wind farms in the North Sea to power a 1GW green hydrogen production plant in Esbjerg, Denmark. The plant should be operational in 2024 with the output used for transport.

Danish carbon reduction technology company Haldor Topsøe and South African energy and chemicals company Sasol are expanding their collaboration to develop their technologies for sustainable liquid fuels and chemicals production through Fischer-Tropsch technology.

Norwegian carbon technology company Horisont Energi, international energy company Equinor and Norwegian oil and gas company Vår Energi are collaborating to develop a large-scale clean ammonia production facility in Finnmark, Northern Norway. The Barents Blue project will use natural gas to produce ammonia, a potential fuel for decarbonisation of parts of the maritime sector. The CO2 in the process gas will be stored in the reservoir below the seabed offshore Finnmark.

US CRO Inotiv is set to acquire Indiana-based CRO Envigo in a $545m cash and stock deal. The deal requires regulatory and shareholder approval and is expected to close in Q4. The combined company is predicted to have an enterprise value of about $1.2bn.

UK multinational speciality chemicals and sustainable technologies company Johnson Matthey (JM) is merging its green hydrogen and fuel cells entities under a new hydrogen technologies business. The company’s blue hydrogen business will remain within JM’s efficient natural resources sector. In addition, the company is collaborating with the Italian Maire Tecnimont Group through its NextChem’s subsidiary MyRechemical to develop ‘waste-to-methanol’ technology on a commercial scale worldwide. The methanol can be used as an intermediate for low-carbon additives in gasoline and diesel and as a raw material for the chemical, construction, and plastic industries.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation in the Netherlands and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in the US have launched the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Genomic Mechanisms of Disease. Based at the Broad Institute and supported by a grant of around $47.5m from the Foundation, the centre will generate datasets for researchers worldwide to help them understand how human genetic variants affect risk for common complex diseases, including type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Dutch multinational science-based company Royal DSM is reorganising its health, nutrition & bioscience activities into three business groups – food & beverage; health, nutrition & care; and animal nutrition & health. In addition, the company is reviewing its options for its materials businesses, including a possible change of ownership.

French multinational pharma company Sanofi has acquired US messenger RNA therapies company Translate Bio for around $3.2bn. Meanwhile, Sanofi’s Principia Biopharma site in San Francisco is set to close by the end of 2021.

Royal Dutch Shell is building an 820,000t pa biofuels facility at the Shell Energy and Chemicals Park Rotterdam, the Netherlands, formerly known as the Pernis refinery. The facility will produce sustainable aviation fuel and renewable diesel made from waste in the form of used cooking oil, waste animal fat and other industrial and agricultural residual products.

Belgian chemicals major Solvay has completed its thermoplastic composites manufacturing facility at its Greenville, South Carolina, site in the US. The new line will add more than 30 positions at the 27,000ft2 facility and can manufacture unidirectional composite tape from a range of high-performance polymers.

The UK government has agreed, with the governments of France and Germany, to continue support for the neutron research centre, the Institut Laue-Langevin in Grenoble, France, for another decade.

The Oyster project, a consortium consisting of ITM Power, Ørsted, Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy and Element Energy, which is investigating the potential of connecting an offshore wind turbine to an electrolysis plant and transporting renewable hydrogen to land, is setting up a pilot plant for this purpose in Grimsby, UK.

Sabic and Microsoft have collaborated to create Microsoft’s first consumer product, the Ocean Plastic Mouse, which features an exterior shell containing 20% recycled ocean plastic, formed from Sabic’s new Xenoy resin, part of the company’s Trucircle portfolio.

A new black pigment, Bayferrox 303T, developed by Lanxess to colour recyclable plastic packaging, is designed to reflect up to 20% of near IR (NIR) radiation. This pigment can replace commonly used carbon black and is said to enable plastics to be identified efficiently and cost-effectively with the aid of NIR detectors as currently used for sorting waste. It also has reduced magnetic properties to prevent false alarms.

After successful laboratory trials, UK National Highways is trialling the world’s first on-site use of graphene in road resurfacing along three miles of the A1 in Northumberland. If successful, this trial, in conjunction with the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre at Manchester University and Pavement Testing Services, could see the operational life of key road features being extended by a number of years, reducing the frequency of roadworks and making journeys smoother and more reliable.

Healthcare packaging supplier Airnov has expanded its range of Aroma-Can drop-in fragrance canisters to include strawberry and mint. The products are injection-moulded with a scented polymer compounded into the resin that releases the fragrance over time. They are intended for inclusion in the packaging for herbal and nutraceutical products that have unwanted odours, and are the same size and shape as Airnov’s standardised 1g desiccant canisters.

Evonik has introduced the Ortegol 700 series of polyurethane additives designed to improve the quality of compressed flexible foams, such as those used for the compressed mattress products, so-called ‘Bed in a Box’, that have seen a significant increase in consumer demand. The additives enable compressed mattresses to unfold and recover their original volume much faster.

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