Business digest

C&I Issue 6, 2022

Read time: 4-5 mins

US specialty chemicals manufacturer Solenis has acquired Turkish company Neu Kimya Anonim Şirketi, which serves the heavy/light water treatment and oil and gas markets in Turkey, Southeast Europe and the Middle East.

Swiss speciality chemicals company Clariant and its US process partner Lummus Technology have been awarded a major contract by Fujian Meide to supply CATOFIN technology and catalysts for a propane dehydrogenation (PDH) unit in Fuzhou, China. The new unit will produce 900,000t/yr of propylene from 2023.

Australian bioanalytical and toxicology laboratory Agilex Biolabs has announced its expansion in the US with local representatives now servicing the East and the West Coast. This comes as it opens its enlarged Adelaide campus laboratory for the analysis of large molecule therapeutics. The facility has more than doubled in size.

US pharma Eli Lilly has revealed plans to expand its manufacturing footprint in Indiana by investing $2.1bn in two new manufacturing sites at Indiana’s LEAP Lebanon Innovation and Research District in Boone County. These new facilities will expand Lilly’s manufacturing network for active ingredients and new therapeutic modalities, such as genetic medicines.

US chemicals manufacturer Milliken is to start production at its new clarifier plant in Blacksburg, South Carolina. The additional capacity will address worldwide demand for clarified plastic products and will increase production capacity of its Millad NX 8000 polypropylene clarifier by more than 50%.

Shell Overseas Investments and Dordtsche Petroleum Maatschappij, subsidiaries of British multinational oil and gas company Shell, have completed the sale of Shell Neft, Shell’s retail stations and lubricants business in Russia, to PJSC Lukoil.

Catalent, a US provider of services and technologies to biopharma and consumer health organisations, has begun a $175m project to expand its manufacturing facility for large-scale oral dose forms in Winchester, Kentucky.

Nano One Materials, a Canadian developer of battery materials has agreed to acquire all outstanding shares of Johnson Matthey Battery Materials (JMBM Canada) for C$10.25m. JMBM Canada includes a 2,400t/yr capacity lithium iron phosphate (LFP) production facility located in Candiac, Québec. It is also a supplier of LFP cathode material to the lithium-ion battery sector for both automotive and non-automotive applications.

British multinational pharma GlaxoSmithKline has formally changed its name to GSK.

Covalab, a French biotech that specialises in the development and production of recombinant proteins and antibodies for diagnostics and therapeutics, has announced that its BioDiaThera project has been awarded €490k ($520k) in funding as part of the French ‘Capacity Building’ scheme; part of the ‘France 2030’ investment roadmap. Launched by the French government, this scheme is intended to strengthen French national production capability in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The UK Aptamer Group, which focuses on the development of nucleic acid aptamers for several diverse and innovative uses, ranging from R&D and diagnostics to therapeutic applications, has extended its collaboration agreement with PinotBio, a Korean clinical-stage oncology-focused biotech. The collaboration is developing four new optimer-drug conjugates for use as precision chemotherapeutics.

British engineering and consulting business Wood has secured a contract to deliver engineering, procurement and construction management for Belgian chemical company Solvay’s new polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) site to be built in Tavaux, France. PVDF is a high-performance polymer and is produced to meet the growing demand of lithium-ion batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles. The site will increase Solvay France’s PVDF capacity to 35,000t/yr – making it the largest PVDF production site in Europe.

Perstorp Group, a Swedish specialty chemicals company, has been acquired by Malaysian integrated chemicals producer Petronas.

In May 2022, German Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz attended the topping-out ceremony of Bayer’s new Solida-1 pharmaceutical facility in Leverkusen. It will set new standards for sustainability – its energy requirements will be largely covered by a geothermal plant which reduces CO2 emissions by 70% compared to conventional systems.

Danish catalysis, process technology and energy transition company Topsoe has announced plans for the world’s largest electrolyser production facility. Construction work in Herning, Denmark, will start in the second half of 2022, and operations are expected to commence in 2024. When in operation, it will manufacture SOECs (solid oxide electrolyser cells) with 500MW/year capacity and an option to expand to 5GW.

German science and technology company Merck KGaA is expanding its membrane and filtration manufacturing capabilities in Ireland. The company will invest approximately €440m to increase membrane manufacturing capacity in Carrigtwohill and to build a new manufacturing facility at Blarney Business Park, both in Cork, Ireland. The investment, which is the largest in a single site ever for Merck’s Life Science business sector, will create more than 370 permanent jobs by the end of 2027.

US pharma and biotech Pfizer has launched ‘An Accord for a Healthier World,’ an initiative which aims to provide all of Pfizer’s patented medicines and vaccines available in the US or the EU on a not-for-profit basis to 1.2bn people in 45 lower-income countries. The Accord seeks to greatly reduce the health inequities that exist between many lower-income countries and the rest of the world.

China’s Jiangsu Hengrui Pharmaceuticals is launching Luzsana Biotechnology, a global medicines company and wholly owned subsidiary. Luzsana has developed a strategic plan to co-develop medicines with Hengrui Pharma, which will give the new company access to more than 250 clinical studies in areas of high unmet medical need, such as oncology, cardiovascular, metabolic/diabetes, pain management, immunology and liver and renal disease.

BenevolentAI, a UK clinical-stage AI-enabled drug discovery company, has announced that AstraZeneca has selected an additional novel target for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) for its drug development portfolio. This is the third novel target from the collaboration that has been identified using the Benevolent Platform (a disease-agnostic AI-enabled drug discovery platform) across two disease areas, IPF and chronic kidney disease, and subsequently validated and selected for portfolio entry by AstraZeneca.

US life sciences venture capital company Flagship Pioneering has unveiled a new company – Sonata Therapeutics – to develop novel medicines for a wide range of serious diseases based on understanding and re-engineering the cellular microenvironment. The new company will initially focus on oncology, fibrosis, and autoimmune disorders

Helbio, a Greek energy systems manufacturer and subsidiary of Metacon, a Swedish company that develops and manufactures energy systems for the production of hydrogen, heat and electricity, has delivered a first ‘ammonia cracker’ prototype to the Norwegian company Pherousa Green Technologies. Ammonia-to-hydrogen conversion rates greater than 99.3% were achieved, and the hydrogen purification unit was able to remove 100% of the ammonia traces, enabling feed to a PEM fuel cell.

US CDMO PCI Pharma Services has announced an expansion of capabilities and capacity in aseptic liquid fill-finish and sterile lyophilisation technology, a manufacturing process commonly used with injectable and biologic therapies. It is investing $100m in facilities at its Bedford, New Hampshire, campus.

RQ Biotechnology (RQ Bio) has been launched as a new UK-based biotech following the completion of a successful licensing deal with AstraZeneca for RQ Bio’s existing monoclonal antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. RQ Bio is developing treatments and preventative therapies based on potent broad-spectrum monoclonal antibodies to provide instant and long-lasting immunity for vulnerable people at risk of severe disease or death from existing, emerging and new viral infections. To optimise patient impact, the company will continue to be supported by its collaborations with the University of Oxford and UK medical research charity LifeArc.

Japanese pharma Shionogi and UK clinical-stage biopharma F2G have entered a strategic collaboration to develop and commercialise the new antifungal agent Olorofim for invasive fungal infections. Olorofim is a novel oral antifungal therapy developed by F2G to treat invasive aspergillosis (IA) and other rare mould infections. It works through a unique mechanism of action, different from existing classes of antifungals, exerting fungicidal activity through inhibition of the pyrimidine synthesis pathway. Olorofim represents the first novel antifungal class developed in the past 20 years and is the only antifungal medication to be awarded a Breakthrough Therapy Designation (BTD) for multiple indications by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Cugene, a US clinical-stage biotechnology company developing precision immunology and oncology medicines to treat autoimmune disease and cancer, has announced an exclusive worldwide license option agreement with US biopharma AbbVie for Cugene’s CUG252, a potential best-in-class Treg-selective IL-2 mutein, as well as other novel IL-2 muteins, for the potential treatment of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

Procaps Group, an integrated Latin American healthcare and pharmaceutical conglomerate, has agreed to acquire Grupo Somar, an independent pharma based in Mexico that develops and manufactures generic drugs plus private-label and over-the-counter medications.

Avacta Group, a UK clinical-stage oncology drug company developing cancer therapies and diagnostics based on its proprietary pre|CISION and Affimer platforms, has announced that AffyXell, its joint venture with South Korean drug maker Daewoong Pharmaceutical, has expanded its strategic partnership with US CDMO GenScript ProBio, a biopharma manufacturer. AffyXell is to develop cell and gene therapies based on mesenchymal stem cells which incorporate Affimer immunotherapies.

Becton Dickinson, a US medical technology company, and Japanese chemical manufacturer Mitsubishi Gas Chemical (MGC) have entered into an agreement to investigate further development of OXYCAPT – an MGC product that integrates their plastic and glass technologies for plastic syringes. Together, the companies will investigate applying the OXYCAPT to the next generation of pre-fillable syringes for advanced biologic pharmaceuticals.

TotalEnergies and Vanheede Environment Group have signed a long-term commercial agreement for the supply of post-consumer recycled (PCR) raw material, to be used as feedstock in the production of circular polymers for durable applications. Vanheede Polymers & Compounds will supply PCR raw material coming from its sites in France and Belgium, including Dottignies, where a new plastic waste treatment facility using innovative technology is currently under construction. The raw material will then be used as feedstock by TotalEnergies to produce circular polymers for durable applications, such as in the automotive and construction sectors.

Researchers are designing a green ammonia plant that can reliably and efficiently generate ammonia using only intermittent renewable energy as the source of power. The project, led by the Science and Technology Facilities Council with partners Frazer-Nash Consultancy has won early-stage funding from the UK government. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has awarded the team £284,000 through its Net Zero Innovation Portfolio Low Carbon Hydrogen Supply 2 competition. Ammonia has traditionally been used as a fertiliser, but it is now increasingly seen as a hydrogen carrier and carbon-free fuel for the future. It can be used directly as a fuel in internal combustion engines, gas turbines and fuel cells, and looks set to play a significant role in hard-to-decarbonise industries such as shipping, non-electrified rail and electric vehicle charging.

BASF has expanded its range of Ultramid flame-retardant polyphthalamides for electronic components such as connectors in vehicles, appliances and consumer electronics. The various grades are characterised by high thermal stability, dimensional stability, with excellent electrical insulation and low water uptake. As an example, Ultramid One J60X1 V30, acquired from Solvay, has the highest relative thermal index (RTI) 160°C in the range.

The Fungicide Resistance Action Committee has granted an entirely new class for the active ingredient of Biotalys’ first biofungicide, Evoca, a polypeptide developed on the company’s Agrobody Foundry platform and designed to combat Botrytis and powdery mildew in fruits and vegetables.

Solvay has expanded its Solvalite range of prepregs for automotive applications with the addition of Solvalite 714 prepregs, described as a new generation of unidirectional carbon fibre and woven fabric products pre-impregnated with Solvalite 714 epoxy resin. They are said to offer fast-cure cycles and long outlife for the production of body panels with short compression moulding cycle times in serial production runs.

UK-producer of specialty graphene nanoplatelet dispersions, Applied Graphene Materials (AGM) has demonstrated high levels of protection from harsh chemicals when its Genable dispersions are incorporated in paints and coatings. Coatings containing the dispersions can protect metal substrates by resisting chemical permeation and contamination in applications such as chemical pipe and tank linings, floor coatings and structural steelwork coatings.

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