Business digest

C&I Issue 7 8, 2023

Read time: 7 mins

Chinese CRDMO WuXi Bio has invested in the purchase, construction and adaptation of two state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in Germany, enabling the company to offer end-to-end services spanning the biologics manufacturing process. The sterile filling and freeze-drying plant at Chempark Leverkusen, with an annual capacity of approximately 10m doses, is being expanded to include a second variable filling line. The company’s drug substance facility in Wuppertal is expected to double total capacity to 24,000l.

Solenis, a US manufacturer of specialty chemicals used in water-intensive industries, has completed its acquisition of Diversey Holdings, a US provider of hygiene, infection prevention and cleaning products and technology. The all-cash transaction valued Diversey at $4.6bn.

Danish pharma Novo Nordisk has announced plans to invest 15.9bn Danish kroner ($2.3bn) to expand an existing Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) production facility in Hillerød, Denmark. It will create additional production capacity, meet future market demands and help develop Novo Nordisk’s future clinical late-phase product portfolio. The new 65,000m2 facility is expected to start producing APIs by early 2029 and will create 340 new jobs when construction is completed.

Swiss pharma Novartis has signed an agreement to divest ‘front of eye’ ophthalmology assets to Canadian eye health company Bausch + Lomb. The transaction is valued up to $2.5bn, including $1.75bn in upfront cash, plus additional milestone payments.

UK charitable foundation Wellcome and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have announced funding to advance a TB vaccine candidate, M72/AS01E (M72), through a Phase 3 clinical trial. If proven effective, M72 could potentially become the first new vaccine to help prevent pulmonary TB, a form of active TB, in more than 100 years. In 2021, roughly 10.6m people fell ill with TB and 1.6m died – about 4300 people per day.

US pharma Eli Lilly has spent $309m to buy Sigilon Therapeutics, a US biopharma developing functional cures for patients with a broad range of acute and chronic diseases. The two firms have worked together since 2018 to develop encapsulated cell therapies, including SIG-002, for the treatment of Type 1 diabetes. The goal of these therapies is to free patients from constant disease management by sensing blood glucose levels, restoring insulin production and releasing it over the long term.

UK speciality chemicals company Johnson Matthey (JM), and UK industrial coatings company Diffusion Alloys, have joined forces to scale-up production to meet the increasing demand for low-carbon hydrogen. The two will share their areas of expertise and ensure a robust supply chain for the coated components deployed in JM’s low carbon (blue) hydrogen products. Diffusion Alloys has more than 60 years’ experience providing diffusion coatings for hydrogen and other clean energy technologies. The coatings protect equipment in aggressive operating conditions and prevent metal corrosion.

German science and technology company Merck KGaA is expanding production capacity for highly purified reagents at its site in Nantong, China, a major transportation hub in the Yangtze River Delta region. The €70m investment will allow the large-scale manufacturing of high-purity reagents for quality control and testing for biopharma customers, increasing annual output by several thousand tons.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Science Creates, a venture capital firm based in Bristol, UK, have launched an accelerator programme for innovative UK engineering biology scientists. The programme is funded by the £250m UKRI Technology Missions Fund and will support engineering biology researchers seeking to launch a company, or whose existing start-up is in the very early-stages. The accelerator is open to entrepreneurial candidates using engineering biology to help solve global problems such as protecting the environment, advancing healthcare and improving quality of life.

Indian CDMO Enzene Biosciences has announced its first facility outside of India, a state-of-the-art biopharmaceutical manufacturing plant on the Princeton West Innovation Campus in Hopewell, New Jersey, US. Operations are expected to begin in June 2024.

Saudi chemical manufacturer SABIC has debuted its new ‘SABIC Material Finder’ website. The online facility is designed to help customers search, compare, evaluate and select specialty thermoplastic materials for a wide range of applications. The website enables users to review information on more than 2000 specialty resins, copolymers and compounds.

Wood, a UK consulting and engineering company, has won an award valued around $50m from UK biopharma GSK for a US capital project to sustain the company’s production of critical specialty medicines. Wood will provide engineering, procurement, construction management and validation (EPCMV) enhancement services for GSK’s global production facility in Rockville, Maryland, US. The three-year contract will support GSK’s production of innovative specialty medicines for the US and globally as part of GSK’s plan to develop the site with state-of-the-art scientific research technology and equipment.

Compact Syngas Solutions (CSS), a UK clean-energy company, has been awarded almost £4m in UK government funding to improve its biomass and waste-to-hydrogen plants using carbon capture. CSS has developed an advanced gasification process that generates hydrogen gas from waste products, including biomass like waste wood and other selected non-recyclable materials. This waste is often sent to landfill, where it decomposes and emits carbon dioxide and methane. The CSS technology harnesses this waste by converting it into syngas, which can be used to produce hydrogen for use as a cleaner fuel. The funding will help CSS build a full-scale rig to show water can be used to separate and store carbon dioxide during the process.

British-Swedish pharma and biotech AstraZeneca has announced a $400m investment in its global AZ Forest programme, raising its commitment to plant 200m trees by 2030. This includes new or expanded projects in Brazil, India, Vietnam, Ghana and Rwanda that will contribute to the company’s commitment to climate action, restoring nature, promoting biodiversity and building ecological and community resilience. The programme spans over 100,000ha worldwide.

UK Research and Innovation has announced a new £34m digital infrastructure for sharing and reuse of biological and biomedical science data. BioFAIR will be established to support research in biological and biomedical sciences. It will widen access to existing data processing, analysis and repository infrastructures from organisations like ELIXIR (European life sciences infrastructure) to maximise the findability, accessibility, interoperability, reusability and reproducibility of research data.

BASF is increasing production capacity for alkoxylates in Europe by at least 150,000t/year. Most of the capacity increase is part of the expansion of ethylene oxide and ethylene oxide derivatives at the Belgian Verbund site in Antwerp, Belgium. Alkoxylation is used to produce surfactants for the home care industry and applications in industrial and institutional cleaning. Alkoxylates are also used for superplasticiser production, emulsion polymerisation emulsifiers, crop protection additives and polyurethane foams for the automotive and construction industries.

French energy and petroleum company TotalEnergies is stepping up production of sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) at its Grandpuits site. It will double SAF production at Grandpuits, bringing production capacity to 285,000t/year.

US gene therapy CDMO Andelyn Biosciences has opened its new 17,000m2 manufacturing HQ in the Innovation District in Columbus, Ohio. The facility more than triples Andelyn’s footprint, ensuring the company will have the space and capabilities to meet the growing demand for its cell and gene therapy services.

Belgian chemical company Solvay and aerostructures manufacturer Spirit AeroSystems (Europe) have strengthened their relationship as Solvay becomes a strategic partner of Spirit’s Aerospace Innovation Centre in Prestwick, Scotland. The collaboration aims to develop advanced manufacturing, composite fabrication, automation and assembly technologies to de-risk and shorten the development cycle.

Finnish energy company Fortum and Finnish battery chemicals company Terrafame have signed an agreement for an experimental project in which metals recovered from the black mass of EV batteries by Fortum will be used in Terrafame’s battery chemical production. Under the agreement, Fortum will supply nickel and cobalt recovered from used EV batteries at the Harjavalta recycling plant to Terrafame, which will use the recycled raw materials to produce battery chemicals for new EV batteries. At the end of their life cycle, the batteries will be recycled again, thus closing the circulation of recoverable raw materials.

Copenhagen Atomics is a Danish molten salt technology company developing mass manufacturable molten salt reactors. It is leading a $4bn four-party consortium from Denmark that has signed a memorandum of understanding with two Indonesian state-owned enterprises – fertiliser producer Pupuk Kaltim and energy group Pertamina – to develop an ammonia facility in the city of Bontang powered by next-generation modular nuclear reactors. It will have a million-tonne/year capacity, making it one of the biggest low-carbon ammonia projects proposed to-date.

Quell Therapeutics, a UK biopharma and developer of engineered T-regulatory (Treg) cell therapies for serious medical conditions driven by the immune system, has announced it has entered into a collaboration, exclusive option and license agreement with British-Swedish pharma and biotech AstraZeneca to develop, manufacture and commercialise autologous, engineered Treg cell therapies for two autoimmune disease indications. Under the terms of the agreement, Quell’s proprietary toolbox of Treg cell engineering modules, including its Foxp3 Phenotype Lock, will be leveraged to develop autologous multi-modular Treg cell therapy candidates for Type 1 diabetes and inflammatory bowel disease.

Clariant Oil Services a US supplier of specialty oilfield production chemicals and services to the oil and gas industry has launched PHASETREAT WET, a more efficient and sustainable solution for the oil and gas industry’s demulsification needs. Product benefits include decreased dosages for demulsifiers and deoilers, improved water treatment quality, more efficient oil treatment and reduction of injection points.

Swedish fire suppression company Fogmaker International, a subsidiary of Swedish technology company Dacke Industri, has introduced Eco 1, a new fire suppression fluid that is 100% free from PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). Fogmaker’s fire suppression system uses a high-pressure water-based mist and is aimed at engine compartments and other enclosed spaces. One litre of mist expands into 1700l of fog, which displaces oxygen and cools the area.

INEOS Nitriles, a subsidiary of UK chemicals company INEOS, has launched a new bio-attributed acrylonitrile called Invireo. Acrylonitrile is essential to a variety of industrial applications and sectors such as wind turbines, automotive, aerospace, textiles, chemicals for special applications and sporting goods. Manufactured at INEOS Nitriles’ site in Cologne Germany, Invireo is made using bio-attributed propylene.

German company Pulcra Chemicals, which develops and manufactures specialty chemicals for the textile, fibre and leather industries, and Spanish clothing company Inditex have together developed Sustineri Coloring, a combined pretreatment and dyeing process for cotton and polyester/cotton. The approach is based on newly engineered process chemicals which allow a one-bath pre-treatment and dyeing process for dark, medium and light shades of cotton and polyester/cotton fabrics. The process reduces water and energy consumption by up to 80% and 60% respectively.

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