Evotec speeds from ground-breaking to complete facility in 19 months

By Ben Hargreaves

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Nikada
© GettyImages/Nikada

Related tags Biologics Antibody pandemic AI

The company opens the 130,000-square-foot facility, with manufacturing planned to begin later this year.

Evotec completed the Washington, US, facility, which is named J.POD 1 US, to provide late-stage clinical and commercial-scale biologics.

The facility is another stage in a global build-out of the company’s manufacturing network, after it announced a few months ago​that it would build a commercial-scale European facility, based in France.

Alongside manufacturing spaces, the US site will possess quality control and process development labs, a warehouse, and office and meeting spaces. At fully capacity, the site is expected to employ approximately 200 employees.

Work on the most recently opened facility began in late 2019, and it will operate its first manufacturing run in November of this year for its partner, the US Department of Defense. Validation and qualification of the ‘manufacturing ballroom’ are on track for completion in the fall of this year, a spokesperson for the Evotec told BioPharma-Reporter.

The facility managed to progress from ground-breaking to completion in 19 months, when traditional biologic manufacturing facilities typically take over four years, the company suggested.

The spokesperson explained that the quick build out of the facility was managed through “the J.POD plant design principles shifting the complexity of the plant to the process. This results in a significant cost reduction compared to other biologics manufacturing plants while at the same time accelerating the timeline for the construction itself.”

The timeframe during which the facility was built did, however, create additional obstacles to completion. The spokesperson added that those working on the facility “were designated Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers by the Washington State Public Health Officer along with the office of the Governor,”​ which allowed work to remain on schedule despite the impact of the pandemic.

In terms of how much was invested in readying the facility, the spokesperson stated that the cost will remain undisclosed.

Leveraging tech

According to the company, the new facility will use machine learning and data analytics to improve the efficiency of the discovery, development, and manufacture of biologics.

When asked how this will be achieved, the spokesperson provided an example: “Just – Evotec Biologics’ data and laboratory scientists have developed a novel antibody library generation method using Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs), that enables controlled design of biological and structural features for therapeutic quality and developability.”

They continued: “This approach creates a new class of AI-derived humanoid antibodies that mimic the diversity and properties of the human antibody repertoire while optimising the antibodies for development, manufacturing, and in use characteristics that make them better suited as biotherapeutics.”

The Just – Evotec Biologics section of the Evotec business was created in 2019, when Evotec completed the acquisition​ of Just Biotherapeutics for $90m (€76m).

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