Bionova aims to launch commercial manufacturing by 2021 with new biologics plant

Bionova already has clinical trial supply on lock, boasting more than 200 biopharma clients. Now, the Bay Area biologics maker aims to beef up commercial production, too, by building a manufacturing facility on its home turf.

Last week, CDMO Bionova Scientific started construction on a biologics plant at its Fremont, California, headquarters. The 36,000-square-foot manufacturing facility will allow Bionova to continue working with its clients past the clinical trial stage. And talks to secure production slots in 2021 are already underway, the company said.

The biomanufacturing site will come with two 2,000-liter mammalian cell culture trains and the capability to produce multiple monoclonal antibodies and other recombinant proteins—one of the CDMO's areas of expertise—simultaneously. The company is tapping Cytiva Life Sciences' FlexFactory to move to single-use production.

Construction is set to wrap in about 10 months, Bionova said, aiming to go online during next year's third quarter. The company hasn't revealed how much it plans to invest in the new facility, but it will draw on a $22 million equity investment announced by Greenwich, Connecticut-based private investment firm Great Point Partners last summer.

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The move will support increased calls for biomanufacturing capacity in the industry, Bionova co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Chung Chun said, and the new facility should come as welcome news for the CDMO's existing clients, too.

"This groundbreaking is a very exciting moment for Bionova," founder and CEO Amy Kong said in a release. "For several years, our clients have been asking us to supplement our development capabilities so we could support their GMP production needs too."

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In late March, the company introduced a COVID-19 support program for industry partners facing manufacturing difficulties amid the pandemic, volunteering surge capacity at its labs.

Meanwhile, other drugmakers have revved up their own biologics businesses. For instance, in June, Fujifilm made a massive $928 million investment in a former Biogen biologics facility in Denmark the company acquired a year before. Fujifilm thinks that cash infusion could ultimately boost revenue for its bio-CDMO business to $928 million per year.

Bionova hasn't laid out expectations for a return on its biologics manufacturing site, but with drug companies already lining up for slots, the CDMO's existing client network looks poised to offer plenty of work through 2021. The expansion will also generate more than 50 new jobs to bolster GMP production.