Rapid Micro Biosystems to fund EU facility construction with $120m fundraising

US sterility testing tech firm Rapid Micro Biosystems will build a European plant and expand its business with $120 million raised this week.

The Lowell, Massachusetts firm – which makes automated microbial detection systems – completed a $120 million financing round this week, attracting equity investment from The Ally Bridge Group, Endeavour Vision, and existing investors including Asahi Kasei.

CEO Robert Spignesi told Bioprocess Insider the firm’s “growth plan includes establishing new manufacturing capacity, beyond our current US manufacturing facility in Lowell, Massachusetts, which is currently producing global supply.

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“The locations of our current customer base are 45% US, 45% EU, and 10% Asia. The location of our new manufacturing facility to produce Growth Direct products will be in Western Europe.

“Our plans for growth and global expansion have been anticipated for many months and are driven off of the market demand for our system by biopharmaceutical companies that manufacture a range of complex drug products, including biologics, sterile injectables, cell and gene therapies and vaccines,” he added.

The firm will also develop its platform – called Growth Direct – according to Spignesi, who said, “Proceeds from the financing will focus on further developing our rapid sterility testing product.”

Pandemic preparedness

Initial development was carried out in partnership with BARDA – The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

“BARDA anticipated the need for advanced sterility testing technology, like ours, in sterile manufacturing plants that are required for vaccines for pandemics.

“Our initial work with BARDA was focused on pandemic flu, and it is obviously relevant to the efficient manufacturing of vaccines in any pandemic including COVID-19,” Spignesi said.

He said demand for faster, more accurate microbial contamination testing is increasing, adding the pandemic has further increased the need for such analysis.

“At the broadest level, our Growth Direct system for microbial detection is part of a dramatic shift in the biopharmaceutical industry to improve and augment their manufacturing processes to meet the stringent requirements of the growing number of complex drug modalities – like biologics, cell and gene therapies and vaccines.

“In the current environment, the COVID-19 pandemic has only served to accelerate this movement to improve manufacturing in the drug industry. The shift was already underway, and the pandemic has pushed the biopharmaceutical industry to accelerate their decision making to improve conventional manufacturing strategies.”