Estonian pharma leader Icosagen has signed an €18 million agreement with the European Investment Bank (EIB), backed by the InvestEU programme, to strengthen its innovative drug discovery, development, and production capabilities. The financing will also help Icosagen establish a new current good manufacturing practice (cGMP) production facility.
The total investment in the project exceeds €40 million and is expected to have a significant impact on the biological drug development industry in Estonia. The construction of the new 1,600 square-meter production plant, which expands on Icosagen’s existing laboratories in the city of Tartu will be completed in September 2023. It is expected to become operational in 2024.
This new facility will allow Icosagen to become a one-stop-shop for its biotechnology and pharmaceutical clients and a full contract research, development, and manufacturing organization (CRDMO), offering seamless discovery, development, and manufacturing capabilities of mammalian protein drug candidates.
“We have steadily been working towards this important milestone for a long time,” said Professor Mart Ustav, CEO and founder of Icosagen. “Developing novel technologies and workflows will help increase our competitiveness in providing contract research and development services to our clients in Europe and other regions of the world”.
The biopharmaceutical industry is set to soar in the future due to biologics’ greater efficacy and safety compared to small molecules and increased use for treating chronic illnesses. The EIB is elated to assist the industry’s growth by funding Icosagen so it can offer a full range of biologics services and products in Europe and beyond.
Tartu as a biotechnology centre
The city of Tartu, a well-known tech and science hub in Southern Estonia, is also welcoming a deal. “Following the example of Icosagen, we see that cutting-edge science can be successfully applied in both business and society. At the same time, the investment brings more talents to Tartu and strengthens Tartu as a biotechnology centre”, says Roomer Tarajev, Smart City and Investment Manager at Tartu City Government.
The news comes just a month after the University of Tartu received €60 million in funding from the European Commission and the Estonian state to establish two international centres of excellence in digitalized synthetic biology and personalized medicine.
Europe maintains leadership in developing innovative drugs
InvestEU says the agreement with Icosagen will help support research and production, allowing Europe to maintain its leadership position in developing innovative drugs. It will also serve as an important catalyst for the development of the pharmaceutical industry in Estonia.
Icosagen was founded in 1999 and employs 170 experts. Based in Tartu, Estonia, with offices in San Francisco, California, and Berlin, Germany, the company specialises in research-driven drug production. Recently Icosagen hit the headlines as one of the driving forces behind the anti-COVID-19 nasal and throat spray developed in Estonia. Made by Estonian companies, the University of Tartu, and the Estonian University of Life Sciences, it was produced from the colostrum of hyperimmunized cows and intended to help prevent infection.
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