The company officially announced the opening of the Collaborative Innovation Center (CIC) in the Haifa Life Science Park, Israel. The Swiss biotech announced its work to establish the center in 2017. The CIC will create collaborative projects with Israeli academia, medical institutions, and early-stage companies.
The center will serve as a “hub to identify and accelerate fresh solutions” for drug development and manufacturing, according to Lonza.
Boasting 10,764 square-feet, the facility includes lab space equipped with bioprocessing and analytical equipment. Lonza will be responsible for funding and providing in-house insights available for collaborative research into strategic areas of application.
Frida Gotlieb, head of the collaborative innovation center at Lonza Pharma & Biotech, told us that the aim of the center is to accelerate the discovery and applications of technology for manufacturing.
“We have seen successful models of incubators/accelerators in drug discovery and pre-clinical phases, primarily set up by pharma companies, but until now limited focus on manufacturing. As we see more complexity in modalities – such as difficult-to-express proteins and cell and gene therapies, manufacturing is critical and needs new solutions to meet future needs,” she explained.
The center’s key focus areas include expression systems and synthetic biology for efficient scale-up for protein-based constructs. Lonza said it hopes to collaborate to advance manufacturing technology for the increasing numbers of cell and gene therapy moving towards commercialization.
Israel a ‘point of convergence’
Marc Funk, COO of Lonza Pharma & Biotech, explained in a press release that Israel has become a “point of convergence for digital technologies, engineering, and life sciences.”
With the center’s placement, it is in close proximity to teaching hospitals and academic institutions enabling reliable and repeatable process and patient access.
“The center aims to act as a bridge between Israel’s innovation ecosystem and Lonza’s R&D units. In some cases we will be scouting new ideas and developing specific solutions in our labs for near-future issues. In other cases there is a more ‘bluesky’ approach which we hope will lead to more disruptive ideas,” said Gotleib.
Several projects are currently underway, including a partnership with the Chaim Sheba Medical Center. Lonza and Sheba will be working together to test the Cocoon manufacturing technology. It is a patient-scale, closed and automated cell-therapy manufacturing system. The collaboration, according to Sheba, will also enable the company to grow a platform for production of CAR-T and other cell therapies.