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Univercells receives $12 million from Gates Foundation

Belgian biotech company Univercells, founded in 2013, recently announced that it has been awarded a $12 million grant by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the development of a breakthrough vaccine manufacturing platform with the objective of radically lowering costs and increasing vaccine availability and affordability in developing countries.

Hugues Bultot, CEO and co-founder of Univercells said: “We are extremely honoured to partner with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to significantly increase global access to priority vaccines by lowering their manufacturing cost”.

Consortium

The development will be performed by a consortium which also includes Batavia Biosciences and Natrix Separations. Taking advantage of Univercells’ process intensification and integration capabilities and technologies; Natrix’s innovative single-use chromatography membrane platform; and Batavia’s vaccine development and manufacturing capabilities, the goal of this collaboration is to create a micro-facility for inactivated polio vaccine (sIPV) that will produce 40 million doses of trivalent vaccine per year at a manufacturing cost of less than $0.15 per dose.

Miniaturization of commercial manufacturing

Under the terms of the agreement, the consortium will develop a manufacturing platform that integrates continuous processing with extremely high process intensification. This combination allows miniaturization of commercial manufacturing to the point where it can be performed in locally deployed, self-contained, small footprint, low-cost micro-facilities.

The platform concept can be applied to any viral vaccine and the reduced scale and simplified operations that it delivers will lower the hurdles for vaccine manufacturers in developing countries while maintaining high safety and containment.

José Castillo, CTO and co-founder of Univercells, stated: “We are excited about this partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. With Batavia Bioscience and Natrix Separations, our consortium integrates considerable experience, know-how and innovative but proven technologies that tremendously increase manufacturing productivity. As a result, we expect our integrated platform to be a real game-changer for global health.”

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