Boehringer Ingelheim upping capacity with €700m mammalian cell culture plant

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

Boehringer Ingelheim’s head of Biopharma Austria Christian Eckermann was speaking in Amsterdam yesterday
Boehringer Ingelheim’s head of Biopharma Austria Christian Eckermann was speaking in Amsterdam yesterday

Related tags Mammalian cell culture Boehringer ingelheim Steel

Boehringer Ingelheim has broken ground on a €700m stainless steel bioproduction facility set to house 135,000L of mammalian cell culture capacity.

The drugmaker and third party biologics manufacturer pledged a significant investment at its Vienna, Austria bioproduction site back in December 2015​, and broke ground on the project earlier this month.

And at the Bioprocess International (BPI) European Summit in Amsterdam yesterday, Boehringer Ingelheim’s head of Biopharma Austria Christian Eckermann said the €700m ($763m) project – around €200m more than announced in 2015 – is the largest single investment ever made by the company.

The facility is planned to be operational in 2021 and will initially house six 15,000L stainless steel bioreactors. However, the plant is being built to be able to incorporate a further three 15,000L tanks, giving mammalian cell culture capacity of 135,000L at the site once fully going.

The investment will help satiate the rising demand for biomanufacturing capacity, Eckermann said, both for Boehringer Ingelheim’s own product pipeline and for its customers from its biologics contract manufacturing business BioXcellence.

He told delegates worldwide biologic production stood at around 19 metric tons of product in 2015, but this will more than double by 2020 with industry demanding 33 metric tons of product to service commercial pipelines.

This helps explain the spate of investment in capacity by both biopharma firms and contract manufacturing organisations (CMOs) he said. Over the past few years, Biogen​, Novartis​, Regeneron​, Roche​ and Samsung Biologics​ are among those firms which are expanding capacity by more than 100,000L.

“At the moment about 67% of capacity coming on line is product based, 24% is CMO based, and 9% is hybrid based.”

When the new facility is fully operational, Boehringer Ingelheim will have a total of 375,000L of stainless steel mammalian cell culture capacity, a further 4,000L of single-use capabilities, and 12,000L of microbial fermenter capacity (stainless steel) across its four sites in Germany, Austria, China and California (US).

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