AutekBio to build ‘Asia’s largest biologics contract manufacturing organisation’ in China

Biosimilars/News | Posted 19/03/2010 post-comment0 Post your comment

AutekBio, Inc. –with headquarters in the Bay Area of California, USA, but operations in China– will build one of Asia’s largest biologic contract manufacturing organisation (CMO) facilities in southern Beijing, China. To construct the facility, AutekBio signed a deal securing US$100 million in venture capital from private and government sources. Contributing to the capital raise were SUMA Ventures and Beijing E-Town Harvest International Capital Management Corporation, Beijing’s Municipal Government’s venture capital group. The new joint venture will build a world class R & D and manufacturing centre in southern Beijing, to service international biologic developments, with combined volumes of bioreactors up to 20,000 L in multiple production lines (trains).

“I am extremely pleased with this joint investment. This will allow us to build one of the largest biologic CMOs in Asia,” said Mr Julius Li, the CEO of AutekBio. “The newly established facility and company will provide, for the first time, manufacturing services in China fully conforming to the US FDA and EU EMA cGMP standards, for global biopharmaceutical needs.” According to Mr Li, the facility will produce protein-based medicines that combine high quality with cost efficiency. The firm will benefit from financial, regulatory and other support from the Chinese government for the biotech industry, he said.

As reported by In-Pharma Technologist, China is keen to establish itself as a presence in the biologics sector and, in a similar way to Singapore, the government is prepared to use its finances and influence to ensure this happens. Mr Li told Outsourcing-Pharma that the project turned to the Chinese government when capital dried up during the economic downturn. Mr Li explained that the 60,000–70,000 sq m site will house manufacturing facilities producing biologics at scales ranging from preclinical to commercial.

The largest bioreactors at the site will be around 20,000 L, some way short of the 80,000 L capacity at Lonza’s site in Singapore, but Mr Li believes the scope of the Beijing facility gives it a legitimate claim of being the largest contract biologics plant in Asia. In addition to preclinical through to commercial scale manufacturing the site will also house process development. Completion of construction of these different capabilities will occur in phases in the coming years. First, the pilot plant will begin operating at some point in 2010. This will be followed within three years by 1000 L reactors. Finally, within four years the largest bioreactors will begin production. When all these aspects are fully operational Mr Li believes the site could employ up to 1,000 people. AutekBio is looking to recruit leaders from the US and Europe, citing the lack of experience China has in managing this type of operation, but it said other positions will be filled by locals.

Beijing alone produces a large number of life science graduates each year that can fill some positions and Mr Li also hopes some Chinese people will return home from biotech jobs overseas. Mr Li strongly believes that Chinese engineers are the best in Asia, adding that many are already employed in Singapore. This combination of leadership with experience of managing biologics production and skilled operators is designed to ensure the site runs to international standards. Mr Li hopes the site will serve a range of businesses, from Big Pharma to local firms, small biotechs to biogeneric producers, adding that many companies have already shown an interest.

References:

Nick Taylor. China to build ‘one of largest biologics CMOs in Asia’. In-Pharma Technologist. 2010 March 15.

Richard Daverman. AutekBio to Build Largest Biologic CMO in Asia. ChinaBio Today. 2010 March 9.

Source: In-Pharma Technologist; ChinaBio Today

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