A new biopharmaceutical production plant at Boehringer Ingelheim's site in Biberach, Germany, has been officially opened in a ceremony attended by German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder.
The investment in the plant, put at €255 million, represents one of Boehringer's largest single investments and indeed one of the largest in the European biotechnology industry. Approximately €125 million of the total was financed via a loan with the European Investment Bank.
The new plant will double capacity for the production of biopharmaceuticals at the high-tech site - from six 15,000-litre fermenters to 12 - and it will create more than 400 new jobs, according to the company.
Biopharmaceutical production is a key element in Boehringer's business, with almost 2,000 employees involved in the development and manufacturing of therapeutic proteins, monoclonal antibodies, single chain antibodies and gene therapeutics, of whom 1,500 are based at Biberach. The company entered this sector in 1986 and has been the market leader in Europe since 1998, with its Industrial Customer Business growing 9 per cent to €223 million last year.
Five of the most internationally successful biopharmaceutical products are currently manufactured by Boehringer, and the company has contract manufacturing deals with Amgen for the rheumatoid arthritis drug Enbrel (etanercept), InterMune, MedImmune, Schering and Wyeth. In addition, projects from Boehringer`s in-house R&D centres, as well as from key clients, are being developed and scaled-up in Biberach.
The company claims to be the only corporation worldwide that can cover the entire biotechnical process chain in early development and large-scale commercial manufacturing from genetic engineering, formulation, downstream processing to fill & finish in state-of-the-art application systems, as well as worldwide registration and marketing of biopharmaceuticals.
Boehringer also operates a second biopharmaceutical production facility in Vienna with production based on microorganisms - such as Escherichia coli and yeasts. This plant will employ about 460 people by the end of this year and is also doubling its biopharmaceutical production capacities to two 6,000-litre fermenters set to be on-line in 2005.
The total investment in this latter project is more than €60 million, and it will create around 200 new jobs.