Cognate pushes on with global expansion project despite COVID

Cognate plans to increase capacity in Europe four-fold and to double existing capacity at its US site.

This time last year, Cognate Bioservices completed the acquisition of Cobra Biologics, adding its plasmid and viral vector manufacturing capabilities to its own cell therapy services.

Cognate began this year with another announcement, it would be adding to its subsidiary’s manufacturing capacity through an investment in Europe, alongside bolstering its existing facilities in the US.

Image: iStock/EtiAmmos

The European expansion will see Cobra quadruple capacity for ‘high quality’ (HQ) DNA manufacturing, with a build out of clinical and commercial good manufacturing practice (GMP) DNA facilities.

Kelly Ganjei, CEO of Cognate, told Bioprocess Insider where work on this is currently at: “For the DNA service, the first phase is complete with additional capacity for HQ DNA and GMP DNA production at our Matfors site in Sweden, including a new warehouse. The second phase for additional HQ capacity and larger commercial scale GMP DNA production is ongoing.”

Ganjei noted that expansion to its Keele, UK, site has already completed, with QC laboratories and warehouses facilities added.

According to Cognate, the US expansion will see two separate facilities, a distribution center and commercial manufacturing center, join its global manufacturing facility and headquarters in Memphis, US, with the new space covering nearly 250,000-square-feet.

Cognate confirmed that the Memphis distribution site will be finalized in early 2021, with the commercial manufacturing location expected to have construction beginning in 2021.

In terms of projected timelines for when the entire global expansion could be completed, Ganjei said, “We have several expansions running in parallel, at three sites in Memphis and two sites in Europe and it’s quite a challenge during COVID to predict with precision the time of completion.”

Ganjei also stated that the pandemic was making delivering of equipment ‘unpredictable’, though all projects are expected to be completed in the next 12-36 months, with some facilities expected to be ready this year.

Financials in relation to the expansions were also not revealed, though the investment to the Memphis site has already been confirmed to be an initial $212 million (€175 million).

At the same time, it was revealed that a second phase at the Memphis location could see Cognate invest a further $147 million, with the two phases combined creating over 800 positions in the region.

Cognate stated that the investment in its global capacity is being made in response to the demand for commercial capacity in the biologics industry.

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