Chinese upstart starts up large biologics plant

Innovent Biologics may not have a product on the market yet but it just picked up $25 million from interested investors and intends to plow some of that into a commercial-scale biologics plant in Suzhou, China. In fact, Innovent boasts that the facility will be the largest GMP compliant biologics plant in China.

The company got the $25 million in Series B financing from Eli Lilly ($LLY) and Fidelity Biosciences and Fidelity Growth Partners Asia. Innovent says it is building out a campus in Suzhou near Shanghai and will use some of the newfound money for a 90,000-square-meter production facility. It also is building labs and offices at the campus. The company has hooked up with Pharmatech Associates, which will work with regulators to vet the design of the biosimilars plant and help Innovent navigate compliance requirements.

The commercial manufacturing plant will include 6 12,000-liter bioreactors. The company also will build a new pilot plant for making trial materials that will include two 300-liter and two 1,000-liter bioreactors, Pharmatech said in its own release. The plants are designed to comply with the requirements of both the FDA and European Medicines Agency, as well as the requirements of China's State Food and Drug Administration. Innovent claims the plant "will be the largest biologics production facility in China designed to comply with international requirements." 

There is lots of action in Asia right now in the biologics part of the business. Novartis ($NVS) says it will build a $500 million biologics manufacturing plant in Singapore. The Swiss company said work will begin early next year with the plant to be completed in 2016. It will eventually employ 200. Novartis is sharing a site in Tuas, Singapore, with a pharmaceutical plant it already operates there. Chinese CRO WuXi AppTec has opened a biologics manufacturing plant in Shanghai that will initially serve a joint venture it has with AstraZeneca ($AZN).

- read the Innovent release
- get more from Pharmatech