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The funding from the Walloon Region will enable Univercells to start developing a manufacturing platform aimed at driving down costs of biosimilars manufacturing.
On Jan. 23, 2018, Univercells, a technology company that provides biomanufacturing solutions, announced the receipt of a EUR 2.4-million (US$2.9-million) grant from Pierre-Yves Jeholet, vice president and minister of economic affairs, industry, research, innovation, digital, employment and training in the Walloon government in Wallonia, Belgium. The grant will enable the company to launch a program for the development of its protein platform, which is expected to generate cost-effective production of biosimilars.
An increasing demand for affordable biologics requires that production capacities be adapted to impact commercial pricing, according to the company. Univercells' new program will focus on designing next-generation production technologies that are expected to significantly reduce manufacturing costs while still delivering large quantities of antibody product. The resulting low-footprint, high-capacity production units are expected to be more affordable to build and operate while improving worldwide access to high-quality biologics, according to the company.
"We are very appreciative of the continuing insight and support from Wallonia," said Hugues Bultot, co-founder and CEO of Univercells, in a company press release. "The region has supported Univercells since its early days, with a successful earlier project leading to the commercial development of our vaccine micro-facility. We are confident this second platform will demonstrate the same favorable outcome and aid in fostering access to healthcare worldwide."
In December 2016, Univercells closed a EUR 3-million (US$3.56-million) capital increase in a Series-A equity financing round, led by private investors. Prior to that, the company received a $12 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and EUR 3 million (US$3.56 million) from Takeda in 2015.
Univercells' biomanufacturing platform technology is aimed at increasing the availability and affordability of biologics, including recombinant proteins and vaccines, with significantly smaller equipment and facility size that would lower capital and operational costs.