BioNTech has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to build a plant in Jerusalem, Israel to manufacture mRNA-based vaccines.
The Mayor of Jerusalem, Moshe Lion, told delegates at Mind the Tech Conference in London, UK that BioNTech is “one of the miracles” that helped the world make it through the COVID-19 pandemic after jointly developing BNT162b2 (Comirnaty) with Pfizer, the first messenger RNA (mRNA) COVID-19 vaccine to receive emergency use approval in December 2020.
Lion said he wanted “to begin by sharing with you some exciting news, which has great economic significance. This morning I can tell you that from here I will be travelling to Germany to visit the company’s headquarters because we have just signed an agreement with the Israeli Government and BioNTech to build and establish a research, development, and production center for mRNA-based vaccines in Jerusalem.”
The facility will be built at Har Hotzvim technology park in northwest Jerusalem and will manufacture cancer-related drugs and vaccines as the firm looks beyond COVID-19.
Financial details of the deal remain undisclosed, but BioNTech’s fourth quarter and full year 2022 results reported capital expenditure for the 2023 financial year to be in the range of €500 million ($541 million) to €600 million ($649 million).
“We are, for example, planning to further expand and enhance our R&D and manufacturing facilities and to invest in a state-of-the-art IT infrastructure to support our digitalization process in especially the R&D area,” said chief financial officer at BioNTech, Jens Holstein, during the earnings call.
It is not known yet when the facility is expected to be operational, but Lion said the center will “boost [the] Jerusalem economy, bring hundreds of jobs to the city and we hope that these vaccines will help in the treatment of cancer and future epidemics.”
Global mRNA footprint
This is not the first time BioNTech has made a deal to bring mRNA vaccines to a different part of the world. In May 2021, BioNTech said it was aiming to bring mRNA to Asia by building a facility in Singapore. 18 months later the company entered into an agreement to acquire a GMP-certified manufacturing facility on the island-state from pharma giant Novartis.
In October 2021, the German biotech an MoU with the Rwandan government and Institut Pasteur de Dakar in Senegal and in February 2022 the firm introduced BioNTainer, a container solution for its mRNA manufacturing strategy to improve vaccine supply in Africa.
In the same month, BioNTech entered into a partnership with the State of Victoria, Australia to construct a research and manufacturing center for mRNA-based products in Melbourne.
A spokesperson for BioNTech told BioProcess Insider “Since we are in the early planning stages of the facility, please understand that we cannot provide further details at this point. We will update in the usual manner as soon as there are relevant news.”