LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Evonik, with a pharmaceutical production facility in Lafayette producing active ingredients for medications, announced Thursday a $220 million investment to build a new lipid production facility for mRNA-based therapies.
Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, as describe by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teach our cells to produce protein that boosts our immune system and were key to the development of COVID-19 vaccines.
The partnership includes U.S. government funding of up to $150 million through its Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.
The investment marks a partnership with the U.S. government, according to the announcement, which would add 80 jobs to the Tippecanoe County area. The Essen, German-based company selected the Tippecanoe County facility “due to its existing infrastructure, a highly skilled workforce, and readily available technologies.”
The Lafayette location is the company’s second-largest facility in Evonik’s inventory, already possessing some 650 jobs, the announcement stated.
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Evonik plans more effort in novel mRNA-based therapies beyond COVID-19 vaccines, and construction will begin early 2023. The plant, according to Evonik, is scheduled to go online in 2025. The goal is to increase its share of lipid solutions from 20 percent today to more than 50 percent by 2030, the announcement stated.
Evonik production during COVID pandemic
As the coronavirus pandemic took hold in 2020, Evonik contributed to the production of lipids to the Pfizer vaccine as well as other vaccination campaigns across the world.
“With this investment in lipid production, we are further expanding our leading position on the global market and specifically strengthening our Health Care business,” Evonik CEO Christian Kullmann said in the announcement.
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“It supports our strategic transformation into ‘Next Generation Evonik’, contributing value-added solutions with superior environmental and socio-economic profiles to our customers.”
The partnership will also allow for the expansion of mRNA technology in such areas as infectious disease control, cancer immunotherapy and protein replacement, according to the company.
In 2009, Eli Lilly and Company announced the sale of its Tippecanoe Laboratories manufacturing facility to Evonik. The facility is located at 1650 Lilly Road in Lafayette.