Swiss company Lonza, which operates in the international pharma and biotechnology market, has announced the founding of a collaborative innovation center (CIC) in the new Haifa life sciences park. The Haifa Economic Corporation, which is building the life sciences park, previously announced that an international pharma company would occupy the center of the park, and now appears to have been referring to Lonza. The center will begin operating in the fourth quarter of 2017, with 15-20 researchers working there in 2018.
The Haifa Economic Corporation said that the center would help leverage Israel's strength in areas such as molecular and cellular biology, engineering, and software. With the establishment of the center, Lonza plants to accelerate leading R&D projects in its pharma-biotech division, and also to be exposed to breakthrough biological production technologies.
“Through its growing reputation as a biotech hub, Israel offers Lonza an opportunity to expand our capabilities and bring transformative technologies and offerings to Lonza Pharma&Biotech customers. That's why we chose to establish the Lonza Collaborative Innovation Center in Israel,” said Marc Funk, COO for Lonza's Pharma&Biotech segment, who is the chairman of the board of the newly incorporated local entity.
“At Lonza we enable our customers to meet some of the greatest challenges in patient treatment. The medicines and research tools of tomorrow are often highly complex, posing new challenges to the way they can be developed and manufactured," he added.
Researchers at the center will work with local industry and academic researchers in the framework of financed research cooperation. Lonza has already signed memoranda of understanding with Tel Aviv University, Technion Israel Institute of Technology, and Weizmann Institute of Science, and has conducted an initial survey to find technologies that it can adopt.
Eytan Abraham, Research & Development Associate Director at Lonza, will take responsibility for setting up the center. Roee Atlas has been recently hired to manage it.
Haifa Economic Corporation CEO Or Shahaf said today, "The decision by Lonza, a major international company, to open its first office in Israel in the life sciences park is a vote of confidence in Haifa's path towards becoming Israel's life sciences capital in accordance with the vision of Mayor Yona Yahav. The entry of leading companies into the park is creating high-quality jobs in the city." The lease was signed with the Haifa Economic Corporation and Mivneh, after GE's ultrasound division and Sonova Israel, a hearing devices company, recently moved into the first building in the park. The MindUp digital medicine technology incubator is also expected to operate in the park.
Lonza is known in Israel mainly for its cooperation with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. (NYSE: TEVA; TASE: TEVA) in developing and manufacturing biosimilar drugs (generic versions of biological drugs), but this cooperation was discontinued in 2013.
Founded in Switzerland in 1897, Lonza is now a global company with over 50 production and development centers worldwide, including in the US, and 14,000 employees. The company posted a $301 million net profit on $4.1 billion in revenue in 2016.
Other than its independent R&D activity, in which Lonza wishes to focus in its center in Israel, most of the company's activity consists of providing development services to pharma companies in chemical and biological-based drug development and in diagnosis kits.
Lonza says that the CIC will leverage Israel’s scientific strengths in areas such as engineering, software and cell/molecular biology to provide Lonza opportunities to gain additional know-how and capabilities. With the launch of the CIC, Lonza aims to accelerate leading Research & Development (R&D) projects from across Lonza's Pharma&Biotech segment, as well as tap into potentially transformative biological and manufacturing capabilities.
"Lonza strives to work with the brightest talent in house and through collaborations with leading scientists and companies to ensure our position as the leading pharma and biotech CDMO and bioresearch provider," Funk said. "We aim to be at the forefront of providing the appropriate innovative technologies in order to manufacture medicines safely and in a timely manner and to deliver the medicines of tomorrow, today."
Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - www.globes-online.com - on October 9, 2017
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