BERLIN (Reuters) -BioNTech will invest 40 million euros ($43 million) in a new facility in Germany that will allow it to produce an important building block in mRNA-based drugs, the German pharmaceutical firm said on Thursday.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who visited the facility in Marburg, 90 kms (55.9 miles) north of Frankfurt, on Thursday, welcomed the investment.
"Germany and Europe are becoming more resilient by building local value chains," Scholz said in a statement from BioNtech.
After visiting the facility, Scholz stressed the need to speed up Germany's approvals process for pharmaceutical companies when it comes to factories and drugs licensing in order to ensure Germany remains an attractive location for them.
"We now want to contribute in a very short time with many very concrete legislative projects so that the pharmaceutical industry, that the medical industry in Germany, that the entire health economy makes progress," said Scholz.
With the facility, BioNTech is seeking more control over the supply chain, which was created in haste during the pandemic.
BioNTech and partner Pfizer - as well as rival Moderna - at the time scrambled to build a heavy-duty messenger RNA manufacturing network with dozens of external partners from scratch to produce COVID vaccines, in a technology that previously had no commercial application.
The facility consists of two plants for clinical and commercial manufacturing of plasmid DNA, which is an important starting material for mRNA-based and cell-based drugs.
The clinical-scale plant has been operational since August 2022 while the commercial-scale one should be ready by end-2023.
($1 = 0.9098 euros)
(Writing by Miranda Murray; Editing by Matthias Williams and Mark Potter)
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