Expansion to triple production capacity at Wacker mRNA site in Germany

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Artur Plawgo
© GettyImages/Artur Plawgo

Related tags: Wacker, mRNA, nucleic acid-therapeutics

Wacker Biotech’s site in Halle, Germany will be expanded in the coming months into a competence center for actives based on messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA).

A groundbreaking ceremony took place last week.

Four new production lines are to be built, which, among other things, will produce mRNA vaccines for customers. As previously announced, part of the new capacity will be available to the German federal government as and when required as part of its pandemic preparedness contracts.

Melanie Käsmarker, managing director of Wacker Biotech Halle, said there are opportunities mRNA actives in and beyond vaccines. “We see a lot of potential here and going forward want to serve the increasing demand for mRNA actives from Halle.”

The construction of the mRNA competence center will more than triple Wacker’s production capacity at the Halle site. The new building will be completed and the production lines operational in less than 24 months, reported the company.

Alongside the four mRNA production lines, the new building will also contain storage areas and quality control laboratories, as well as office space and recreation rooms.

Wacker said it intends to hire around 200 new employees as part of the expansion, with it looking to hire laboratory assistants and pharmaceutical technicians, as well as employees in production, supply chain management and quality control. They will be trained up in the coming months to be ready for the start of production in 2024, said the developer.

Exyte has been hired as general contractor for the construction and validation of the new facilities. That group specializes in the delivery of semiconductor and pharma plants and is considered a pioneer in cleanroom technology, said the contract manufacturer.

The Wacker Group concentrates its biopharmaceuticals activities within Wacker Biotech, which operates three GMP-compliant, FDA- and EMA-certified production plants - the one in Halle and another in Jena in Germany along with a site in Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

During a Capital Market Day at the end of March, Wacker said it would be investing to enable further growth of its biotechnology business, saying it wanted to plough over €80m annually into this area in the next few years. 

Nucleic acid-therapeutics

In June it announced said as the growth of biotech business has stretched the capacity available for research activities to its limits, it would be establishing a new biotechnology center in Munich with space for around 90 employees, to overcome that bottleneck. 

The company is investing a double-digit million-euro sum in the construction of the facility, which is scheduled to be operational in 2024. 

The new biotechnology center will be built at the site of the Consortium für elektrochemische Industrie​, Wacker’s corporate research facility, where the group has been conducting fundamental research for over 100 years and since the 1980s in the field of biotechnology.

The center will contain a laboratory and pilot plant areas across about 2,000 square meters, spread over three floors.

Research will focus on the manufacturing process of biopharmaceuticals, especially in the area of advanced medicines. “We will be looking at all nucleic acid-therapeutics, including mRNA,” ​a spokesperson told us.

The center will also look to bridge the gap between R&D and practice, with ongoing collaboration with customers and partners to propel the development of advanced therapies, continued the spokesperson.

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