Business digest

C&I Issue 1, 2023

Read time: 4-5 mins

Innovate UK is launching a new £30m fund to advance life-changing cancer therapeutics delivered through the Biomedical Catalyst (BMC) programme. This initiative aims to unleash business-led innovation from the UK’s research base in immuno-oncology, treatments that guide the patient’s own immune system to target their cancer cells. In addition, this fund will support innovation projects that address unmet medical needs in treating childhood cancers, a leading cause of death between the ages of 0 to 14 in the UK. This new programme directly supports the ambition of the UK government’s cancer mission, announced on 28 November 2022, to develop new therapeutics by combining expertise in immuno-oncology and the vaccine capabilities developed throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

US analytical laboratory instrument manufacturer Thermo Fisher Scientific has opened a new facility in Hangzhou, China, as part of its strategy to speed up the provision of therapies to patients. The site aims to address the needs of organisations in China, as well as those outside that country, for biologics and steriles development and manufacturing capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region. The 80,000m2 current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) facility will offer integrated clinical and commercial drug substance and drug product capabilities, including process development, cell line development, biologics drug substance manufacturing and sterile fill-finish.

Saudi chemical company Sabic has teamed up with Guangdong Jinming Machinery, a Chinese plastic packaging equipment manufacturer, and Bolsas de los Altos, a Mexican plastic film and packaging converter, to support growth of polyolefin-based applications for flexible packaging. The collaboration, which feature Sabic’s materials knowledge and installation of Jinming’s multilayer coextrusion machinery at Bolsas’ Mexico facility will support Sabic’s position in the Americas as a polyethylene resin supplier.

Dutch paints and performance coatings multinational AkzoNobel has acquired the aluminium wheel liquid coatings business of German industrial coatings company Lankwitzer Lackfabrik, which supplies approved products for car manufacturers such as Daimler, Audi, VW, Opel, Fiat and Renault.

UK consulting and engineering company Wood has been appointed integrated services partner by Centrica Storage for the company’s UK Southern North Sea operations. The five-year contract includes the provision of engineering, procurement and construction solutions, operations and maintenance services, as well as project management services for the Rough gas field and the Easington Gas Terminal in East Yorkshire. Rough, the UK’s largest natural gas storage site, was recently reopened to help bolster the UK’s energy security. Wood will support the significant engineering designs and modifications required to enable the facility to store up to 30bn cubic feet of gas ahead of this winter. Wood’s scope also includes working with Centrica Storage to support their ambition to drive the UK’s clean energy transition by redeveloping Rough into the world’s biggest hydrogen storage facility.

BigHat Biosciences a US biotech with a machine learning-guided antibody discovery and development platform, has announced a collaboration with Merck to design candidates for up to three drug discovery programmes.

Finnish mining and battery chemical company Keliber has started construction of its (estimated €588m) lithium hydroxide refinery in Kokkola Industrial Park on the Gulf of Bothnia coast. The lithium hydroxide will be used in electric vehicle batteries.

Emmes, a, full-service US Clinical Research Organisation (CRO) which supports public health and biopharmaceutical innovation, has announced the creation of a dedicated centre for cell and gene therapy research. The new centre will focus on supporting partners’ clinical trials aimed at developing cell and gene therapies across multiple therapeutic areas, including haematology, oncology, cardiology and ophthalmology, as well as rare diseases.

US motor oil brand Pennzoil-Quaker State Company, a subsidiary of UK multinational oil and gas company Shell, has acquired a 49% interest in Blue Tide Environmental, a US company building a global network of lubricant recycling facilities. Blue Tide is currently building a 5000 barrel/day plant in Baytown, Texas, US, which will process used lubricants into high-quality base oils and other co-products, such as gas oil and flux, and which is scheduled to start up in 2024.

Danish pharma Novo Nordisk is to invest DK5.4bn ($0.76bn) in the construction of new plant and the expansion of existing facilities at its headquarters in Bagsværd, Denmark. The investment will establish additional capacity in R&D for manufacturing active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) to supply clinical trials, plus capacity for developing the company’s future oral and injectable products.

The surface treatment global business unit of German chemicals company BASF’s Coatings division has inaugurated its new production site in Pinghu City, Zhejiang Province, China. Spanning 60,000m2, the Pinghu site is BASF’s first production site located in the Dushan Port Economic Development Zone and its largest surface treatment site globally. Designed as a smart factory, the Pinghu site uses a high level of process automation and end-to-end digitalisation of site operations.

Ineos Europe, a Swiss subsidiary of British chemicals company Ineos, and Japanese shipping services company IINO Kaiun Kaisha have signed agreements for two 99,000m3 VLECs (Very Large Ethane Carriers). IINO will deliver the vessels in 2025 and 2026, a deal which will bring Ineo’s ethane fleet to a total of 18 vessels, expected to be the largest ethane fleet in the world.

UK speciality chemicals and sustainable technologies company Johnson Matthey and South Korean power and water company Doosan Enerbility have agreed to develop hydrogen-fuelled power plants in South Korea. The partnership supports the South Korean government’s plans to increase the share of clean hydrogen-based power generation from 0% in 2022 to 7.1% by 2036. Johnson Matthey will provide ammonia cracking and catalyst technologies, which convert clean ammonia into nitrogen and hydrogen.

UK biotech Aptamer Group has opened a new 1700m2 facility, in York Science Park, UK. The new facility, which includes containment level 1 and 2 laboratories, will triple the company’s previous footprint, helping to expand the capacity of its proprietary Optimer platform to deliver novel binders for researchers across bioprocessing, diagnostic and drug development. Optimer binders are aptamers that can be used as synthetic antibody alternatives. They offer benefits of smaller size, reduced immunogenicity, increased stability and ethical compliance as their discovery, development and manufacture are animal-free. They enable researchers to pursue new applications, such as targeted drug delivery, that have previously proven intractable with protein-based technologies. In addition to Optimer discovery and development, a portion of the new lab space will be dedicated to validation and assay development to provide turnkey solutions for its partners.

UK multinational pharma and biotech GSK has revealed that its new global headquarters will be in central London on the corner of New Oxford Street and Earnshaw Street. The company will move there in 2024 from its current location in Brentford, West London.

US AI-driven genomics company Genomenon has announced a partnership with COMBINEDBrain, a company that helps find cures for neurodevelopmental disorders, SynGAP Research Fund, an organisation backing R&D for treatments, therapies and support systems for SynGAP1 patients, and SLC 6A1 Connect, which works to cure SLC6A1-related disorders. Genomenon will collaborate with the foundations and their pharma partners, delivering comprehensive genomic data on their diseases of focus with the goal of accelerating the development of precision drugs to treat rare neurodevelopmental disorders.

UK multinational consumer goods company Unilever has become a founding member of the Cosmetics Europe Commit for our Planet initiative, a new group of cosmetics and personal care businesses in Europe committed to improving sustainable, ethical and responsible practices across three key themes: climate, packaging and nature.

German science and technology company Merck has acquired Erbi Biosystems, a US developer of 2ml micro-bioreactor platform technology. The deal strengthens Merck’s upstream portfolio in therapeutic proteins by enabling scalable cell-based perfusion bioreactor processes from 2ml to 2000L with rapid lab-scale process development.

French energy company TotalEnergies has announced the construction of a new production line of high-performance recycled polypropylene for the automotive sector in its polymer plant in Carling, France. Commissioning is scheduled for 2024, when the flexible line will produce 15,000t/year of polypropylene compounds containing up to 100% recycled plastic materials. The new line is part of TotalEnergies’ recently launched RE:clic portfolio, which includes low-carbon materials such as its RE:use polymers range, obtained through a mechanical recycling process.

German chemical distribution company Brenntag has started to provide comprehensive Product Carbon Footprint data (PCF) to customers. This service is part of Brenntag’s sustainability strategy to promote and enhance transparency about greenhouse gas emissions to drive reductions across the entire supply chain. The data includes emissions from the extraction of resources through to manufacturing of the product up to the plant gate of Brenntag’s own suppliers. The share of Brenntag’s own emissions is then added.

British-Swedish pharma and biotech AstraZeneca has agreed to acquire Neogene Therapeutics, a Dutch clinical-stage biotech working to discover, develop and manufacture next-generation T-cell receptor therapies (TCR-Ts) that offer a novel cell therapy approach for targeting cancer.

Swiss speciality chemicals company Clariant is set to expand its Care Chemicals facility in Daya Bay, Huizhou, China, to boost its support for pharmaceutical, personal care, home care and industrial application customers. The CHF80m investment will see capacity increases for existing products as well as the introduction of new products by the end of 2024. Clariant will also expand existing production capacity for its ethylene oxide derivatives and a broader chemical portfolio at Daya Bay, supporting production of more sustainable solutions for applications such as solid beauty bars, body washes and cream-type shampoos.

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