Brussels, Belgium, December 15, 2016 – Univercells announced today that it has been awarded a $12 million grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the development of a breakthrough vaccine manufacturing platform with the objective of radically lowering costs and increasing vaccine availability and affordability in developing countries. The development will be performed by a consortium which also includes Batavia Biosciences and Natrix Separations.
Hugues Bultot, CEO and co-founder of Univercells said: “We are extremely honoured to partner with the Gates Foundation to significantly increase global access to priority vaccines by lowering their manufacturing cost”.
Vaccines are a powerful contributor to the improvement of global health, with corresponding economic and societal value in averted costs, productivity gains and poverty reduction. A number of factors limit complete global immunization coverage, including prohibitive costs for procuring and distributing vaccines in lower income countries. A substantial reduction in the cost of manufacturing vaccines could help enable affordable, equitable and sustainable immunization on a global scale.
Under the terms of the agreement, the consortium will develop a manufacturing platform that integrates continuous processing with extremely high process intensification. This combination allows miniaturization of commercial manufacturing to the point where it can be performed in locally deployed, self-contained, small footprint, low-cost micro-facilities. The platform will leverage Univercells’ process intensification and integration capabilities and technologies; Natrix’s novel single-use chromatography membrane platform; and Batavia’s vaccine development and manufacturing capabilities. The initial target is to establish a micro-facility for inactivated polio vaccine (sIPV) that can deliver 40 million doses of trivalent vaccine per year at a manufacturing cost of less than $0.15 per dose. The platform concept can be applied to any viral vaccine and the reduced scale and simplified operations that it delivers will lower the hurdles for vaccine manufacturers in developing countries while maintaining high safety and containment.
José Castillo, CTO and co-founder of Univercells, stated: “We are excited about this partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. With Batavia Biosciences and Natrix Separations, our consortium integrates considerable experience, know-how and innovative but proven technologies that tremendously increase manufacturing productivity. As a result, we expect our integrated platform to be a real game-changer for global health.”