Business digest

C&I Issue 7 8, 2022

Read time: 5 mins

US biotech Regenxbio has opened a new gene therapy manufacturing facility in Rockville, Maryland, US. The facility will enable the company to boost manufacturing of NAV technology-based adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors at scales up to 2000L.

Belgian multinational chemical company Solvay has announced the next step in its commitment to voluntarily phase out the use of fluorosurfactants globally. By 2026 it will manufacture nearly 100% of its fluoropolymers without fluorosurfactants, at its Spinetta Marengo site in Italy. Just one small product line, critical for the semiconductor and energy industries and representing less than 1% of production volume, will require further R&D to completely phase out the use of fluorosurfactants. A tightly controlled, closed-loop and zero liquid discharge production process will be used for this production line.

GSK shareholders have approved the proposed demerger of the company’s consumer healthcare business. This will result in the formation of a new company, Haleon. GSK will then focus its future investment on its remaining biopharma business.

Swiss speciality chemicals company Clariant has produced the first commercial cellulosic ethanol at its sunliquid production plant in Podari, Romania. This product can be app-lied as a drop-in solution for fuel blending but also offers further downstream application opportunities for sustainable aviation fuel and bio-based chemicals.

US pharma and biotech Moderna is to open a vaccine research and manufacturing centre in the UK, enabling NHS patients to have access to the next generation of mRNA vaccines and treatments. The new mRNA Innovation and Technology Centre will develop cutting-edge mRNA vaccines for a wide range of respiratory diseases, including COVID-19 vaccines that can protect against multiple variants, helping to future-proof the UK against potential emerging health threats.

German multinational BASF has completed a multi-million-Euro investment to increase production capacity for Tinopal CBS optical brighteners at its Monthey site in Switzerland.

WuXi STA, a subsidiary of Chinese pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, and medical device company WuXi AppTec, has opened a high-potency API (active pharmaceutical ingredients) plant at its Changzhou site (Jiangsu, China). The new plant will meet the growing demand for high-potency API process R&D and manufacturing services and consists of reactors from 250 to 3000L, prep-HPLC systems, a 10m2 tray lyophiliser, as well as flow chemistry and milling technologies. The new plant adopts advanced isolation technologies with the capability to handle potent compounds with an occupational exposure limit (OEL) as low as 10ng/m3.

Neste, the Finnish producer of sustainable aviation fuel, renewable diesel and renewable feedstock for the chemicals industry, has purchased the European rights to the liquefaction technology of US renewable natural resources company, Alterra Energy – a proprietary thermochemical solution for liquefaction of hard-to-recycle plastic.

The European Commission has published its revised definition of nanomaterials – a set of clarifications it hopes will improve the way nanoparticles are identified for the purposes of regulation and align EU legislation across all sectors. There has been no change to the core elements of the 2011 recommendation, which defines nanomaterials as substances with 50% of particles or more between 1 and 100nm.

UK business James Robinson Speciality Ingredients has opened a new state-of-the-art office and warehouse space in Huddersfield. It follows the recent launch of its biotechnology R&D facility in Manchester, to develop and produce sustainable natural ingredients for its international customer base.

Ineos Oligomers has started up its new 120,000t/year, low-viscosity polyalphaolefin (LV PAO) unit at Chocolate Bayou, Texas, US. This facility is the world’s largest single PAO train and complements existing units in La Porte, Texas, and Feluy in Belgium. The new unit is fully integrated into Ineos’ production of Linear Alpha Olefin (LAO), the raw material used for PAO. Its feedstocks are also supplied from the adjacent LAO plant that started up in 2020 and from its Joffre, Canada LAO unit.

UK pharma giant GSK has announced an investment of £1bn over ten years to accelerate R&D dedicated to infectious diseases that disproportionately impact lower-income countries. This research will focus on new vaccines and medicines to prevent and treat malaria, tuberculosis, HIV (through ViiV Healthcare), neglected tropical diseases and anti-microbial resistance.

Saudi power developer/operator ACWA Power and the Emirates Water and Electricity Company have commenced operations for the first phase of the Al Taweelah Independent Water Plant with the production of 454,600m3 of desalinated water/day.

Tata Chemicals Europe has opened the UK’s first industrial-scale carbon capture and usage plant in Northwich, Cheshire. The plant will capture 40,000t of CO2/year – the equivalent to taking over 20,000 cars off the roads.

Australia’s Qantas Airways and European aircraft manufacturer Airbus will jointly invest up to $200m in sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and feedstock projects in Australia through the Australian Sustainable Aviation Fuel Partnership. Qantas has set a target to use 10% of SAF in its overall fuel mix by 2030.

Solvay’s Changshu site in China has more than doubled the onsite production volume of its polymer Solef polyvinylidene fluoride since mid-May 2022. The growth of electric and hybrid vehicles is driving record demand for PVDF, which is used as a binder and a separator coating in lithium-ion batteries.

British-Swedish pharma and biotech multinational AstraZeneca is planning to establish a next-generation active pharmaceutical ingredient manufacturing facility for small molecules near Dublin, Ireland. It will allow for late-stage development and early commercial supply, adopting state-of-the-art process technology and digital innovation designed to meet the needs of the company’s new medicines pipeline. The $360m planned investment at the Alexion Campus in College Park, Dublin, is expected to create about 100 jobs.

Italmatch Chemicals, an Italian specialty chemical group focused on the production and marketing of performance additives for the processing and treatment of water, oil and gas, industrial lubricants and plastics, has acquired the Aubin Group from BGF, an investor of equity capital in the UK and Ireland. Headquartered in Scotland, Aubin is a developer and supplier of chemical solutions for the oil and gas industry and the renewable energy sector, with offices and warehouses across the UK and the Middle East.

The Canadian Government has announced the introduction of Bill S-5, Strengthening Environmental Protection for a Healthier Canada Act. It amends the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, and focuses particularly on recognising a right to a healthy environment under the Act and strengthening Canada’s chemicals management regime.

Elektrofi, a Boston US-based biotech focused on drug formulation and delivery innovations, has completed a $40m Series B financing round, a portion of which will be used to establish a centralised manufacturing line in support of multiple
upcoming clinical trials. The company plans to double headcount over the next 12-18 months to accelerate development across a growing pipeline of licensed programs with leading pharma and biotech.

GSK has opened a new facility at its Barnard Castle site after a £90m investment. The aseptic smart manufacturing facility will help bring new medicines for a range of diseases into production. Trials of the fully automated facility began in 2020 and it will start manufacturing medicines for commercial use during the first half of 2023.

German biopharma MorphoSys and US biotech Human Immunology Biosciences (HIBio) have entered into an equity participation agreement and license agreements to allow HIBio to develop and commercialise MorphoSys’ felzartamab, an anti-CD38 antibody, and MOR210, an anti-C5aR1 antibody.

French pharma Ipsen and US commercial-stage biopharma Epizyme have entered into a definitive merger agreement under which Ipsen will acquire Epizyme. The primary focus of the acquisition is on the lead medicine, Tazverik (tazemetostat), a first-in-class, chemotherapy-free EZH2 inhibitor, which was granted Accelerated Approval by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2020.

The new Centre for Excellence in Agriculture and Food Integrity has been launched. A strategic partnership between Queen’s University Belfast and the National Measurement Laboratory at LGC in Teddington, it will be based at the ASSET Technology Centre at Queen’s. It will develop innovative scientific-measurement solutions and digital technologies to help make supply chains more sustainable, reliable, safe and productive. The Centre will also educate and train current and future industry leaders across the UK with the specialist knowledge and skills needed for a fast-changing and competitive agrifood industry.

Johnson Matthey has announced CLEANPACE, a suite of technologies to retrofit existing grey hydrogen and methanol assets. It allows producers across the syngas value chain to achieve significant carbon emissions reductions of up to 95%. Syngas, or synthesis gas, is a fuel gas mixture consisting primarily of hydrogen, carbon monoxide and CO2.

German drug discovery and development company Evotec has entered a collaboration with Janssen Pharmaceutica, part of US multinational Johnson & Johnson. Evotec’s TargetAlloMod platforms will be evaluated to discover first-in-class novel mode of action therapeutic candidates. Under the agreement, Evotec and Janssen will jointly conduct screens on identified targets and collaborate with hit identification and lead optimisation of the most promising chemical assets.

German science and technology company Merck has announced a collaboration with the Mulliken Center for Theoretical Chemistry at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-University of Bonn, Germany. The three-year collaboration will focus on the development of new tools for computational chemistry modelling as well as new molecular representations to advance the next generation of molecular machine learning. PhD students from the Mulliken Center will work with Merck to identify methods applicable to the company’s portfolio of chemicals and pharmaceuticals that would benefit from molecular machine learning.

Globally, 75% of plastic produced becomes waste. To help address this, the Plastics Innovation Hub Vietnam has been launched. It’s an initiative of Aus4Innovation, a development assistance program sponsored by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade, managed and co-funded by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency, and delivered in partnership with Vietnam’s Ministry of Science and Technology. The Hub will be a vehicle for collaboration, bringing together local communities and governments, researchers, business and investors to help and support Vietnam’s pledge to reduce the flow of plastics into the ocean by 75% by 2030.

At K 2022 in Dusseldorf in October, Denmark’s plant-based emulsifiers and polymer additives producer Palsgaard will introduce its range of food-grade Einar additives as drop-in replacements for fossil-based materials including ant-fog and -static surfactants, dispersing aids, ageing modifiers, EPS coatings and mould-release agents.

Sabic has introduced Noryl NHP8000VT3 resin, a polyphenylene ether, designed to be used as an insulation film to improve protection against short circuits and fire propagation in higher voltage, 600-800V, batteries for electric vehicles. As a replacement for conventional polycarbonate and polypropylene films, it is said to deliver stronger comparative tracking index performance with thinner-wall flame retardance capability.

Evonik’s coating and adhesive resins business has launched Polyvest eCO, a new range of sustainably produced liquid polybutadienes with identical physicochemical properties to the fossil-based products currently used for the production of adhesives and sealants with automotive, electronics and construction applications.

Sweden’s Perstorp has introduced what it claims is the world’s first 2-ethylhexanol based on 25% renewable raw material, 2-EH Pro 25, according to a traceable mass balance concept. 2-EH is used in the production of plasticisers for flexible vinyl applications, acrylates, lubrication oil additives, and as a main ingredient in cetane enhancers for diesel fuel.

Solvay has introduced two new high-performance glycolipid biosurfactants: Mirasoft SLL60 and SL A60, based on rapeseed oil and sugar, for a broad range of applications such as shampoos, conditioners, shower gels, face washes and creams.

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