Evonik Invests $220 Million in US Lipids Facility

08.06.2022 - German specialty chemicals producer Evonik has announced it will build a new, highly flexible, global-scale US production facility for pharmaceutical lipids at the Tippecanoe site in Lafayette, Indiana.

The cost of the new plant that the Essen-based company said will “broadly position” it for future growth in novel mRNA-based therapies beyond Covid-19 vaccines and strengthen its leading role as a strategic partner for innovative pharmaceutical companies is put at $220 million.

The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), an arm of the US Department of Health and Human Resources that supports projects designed to strengthen US vaccine preparedness, will provide $15 million in funding. The Indiana Economic Development Corporation, Greater Lafayette Commerce and utility giant Duke Energy are also said to be supporting the investment.

Construction on the new lipids plant is due to begin in early 2023, with start-up scheduled for 2025. According to Evonik, the facility will help create more than 80 highly skilled jobs in the Lafayette region. Not all will be company employees.

During the intensive phase of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, Evonik’s Health Care business line, which produces lipids for use with mRNA active ingredients, supplied the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine production and other vaccination efforts worldwide. 

For the new US production, the company said it selected Tippecanoe because of the site’s existing infrastructure, a highly skilled workforce and readily available technologies. One of the world’s largest sites for active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), it is Evonik's second-largest US site with around 650 employees.

The company said the new multi-purpose facility will allow the rapid and flexible production of a variety of lipid to serve future applications of mRNA technology in infectious disease control, cancer immunotherapy, protein replacement and gene therapy. The Indiana unit will be designed to ensure a rapid and extensive supply of lipids as needed in case of a future pandemic.

By expanding its production of specialty lipids, Evonik said it is strengthening its Nutrition & Care division's portfolio of system solutions for advanced drug delivery. The division aims to increase the share of system solutions from 20 % today to more than 50% by 2030.

Evonik Vancouver Laboratories, acquired by the German company in its takeover of Canadian CDMO Transferra Nanosciences in 2016, regards itself as CDMO leader for lipid nanoparticle (LNP)-/liposome-based formulations, manufacturing the products for almost 30 years.

“As a strategic partner for pharma and biotech companies, we are using the new facility to support our customers in developing nucleic acid-based drugs right up to commercialization,” said Thomas Riermeier, who heads Evonik Health Care. Riermeier said the chemical producer is also evaluating further expansion of its formulation services and scale-up capacity, thereby consolidating its leading position as an end-to-end provider.

Author: Dede Williams, Freelance Journalist