SINGAPORE —BioNTech’s Singapore affiliate, BioNTech Pharmaceuticals Asia Pacific, is set to acquire a GMP-certified manufacturing site in the country from Novartis Singapore Pharmaceutical Manufacturing.
The latest development is part of BioNTech’s plans to expand its international footprint in Asia.
The site, which is supported by the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB), will be fully operational late next year. It will serve as BioNTech’s regional headquarters.
This Singaporean plant will become the country’s first messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) manufacturing facility as a result of the acquisition.
The facility will establish regional manufacturing expertise to support BioNTech’s expanding pipeline of mRNA-based vaccines and therapeutics for commercial and clinical scale in Asia Pacific.
It also has the potential for extension into the manufacturing of other drug classes such as cell therapies.
In the initial stage, the site will be prepared for the production of various mRNA-based product candidates and authorized vaccines and therapies for infectious diseases.
This could include COVID-19 vaccine and oncology product candidates if successfully developed and approved by regulatory authorities.
Following the full build-out, the completely integrated mRNA manufacturing site is anticipated to have the capacity to produce up to several hundred million mRNA-based vaccine doses a year.
By 2024, the facility is anticipated to generate over 100 jobs and is already recruiting for jobs in engineering, operations, quality control, finance, human resources, and supply chain management.
BioNTech chief operating officer Dr. Sierk Poetting said: “The acquisition gives us the opportunity to accelerate the establishment of a state-of-the-art mRNA manufacturing facility and thus to create capacity more quickly for potential clinical studies and commercial supply of our mRNA vaccines and therapeutics for the region.”
In February, the company entered a multi-target research collaboration with Medigene to develop T-cell receptor-based immunotherapies for cancer.
Singapore has recently emerged as a biopharma manufacturing hotspot. GSK was the only company in the country with a vaccine plant prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sanofi, on the other hand, began construction on a US$434 million vaccine plant in April, adding to its already significant presence in the country.
BioNTech’s purchase of a Novartis plant is not its first. As its COVID vaccine was being developed, the company purchased a Novartis manufacturing facility in Marburg, Germany, in September 2020.
In June this year, BioNTech began construction of its first vaccine manufacturing facility in Africa. The mRNA manufacturing facility in Kigali, Rwanda, will be the first of three planned sites across the continent, with additional factories planned in Senegal and South Africa.
This network of factories will only supply therapies and vaccines to people living in African Union member countries.