Vaccine production facility
Medicago is constructing a new influenza vaccine production facility in the Estimauville Innovation Area in Quebec City, Canada.
The project was announced by Medicago in May 2015 and construction started in September 2018. It is being developed with an estimated investment of $245m and is scheduled to be operational by 2021. The first flu vaccine doses produced in the facility are expected to be available for the 2023 influenza season.
The new facility will complement Medicago’s existing production facility in Durham, North Carolina. It will enable the company to respond quickly to an influenza epidemic or other emerging infectious diseases in North America. It will also help to meet the growing vaccine demand in Canada, as well as increase its export capacity to global markets.
The project is an important part of Québec 2023 Entrepreneurial Vision, which aims to foster economic development in Quebec City. It is expected to create up to 400 high-skilled permanent jobs and generate more than $461m as direct and indirect economic benefits over the next five years.
The facility will be built in Espace d’innovation D’Estimauvillein Quebec City. Also known as Estimauville Innovation Area, it is an industrial park being developed east of the Henri-IV Highway and north of Chauveau Avenue. It will house innovative companies in the technology and research sector.
Quebec City was selected due to the availability of an experienced and qualified workforce; world-class research infrastructure; federal, provincial and municipal government assistance; and business culture.
The new vaccine production facility will be developed on a 90,000m² site near the Quebec Institute of Mental Health. It will span 44,000m² and comprise Medicago’s headquarters, a research and development (R&D) centre, a 9,000m² greenhouse and vaccine production facilities.
The plant will have the capacity to deliver between 40 and 50 million quadrivalent seasonal flu vaccines doses. New product development (NPD) is also expected to be undertaken at the facility in the future.
The new facility will use Medicago’s proprietary Proficia® technology uses plants as a production platform as an alternative to the traditional egg-based and cell production systems for vaccine development.
Plants are used to quickly produce vaccines and treatments in large quantities with high accuracy. It also eliminates mutation and contamination risks during production. The technology can be applied for the development of non-infectious virus-like particles (VLP) for vaccine development that mimics the structure of viruses. The VLPs can be engineered to have certain antigens on their surface for use in vaccines and other therapies.
In case of an epidemic, the technology can be used to produce vaccines in five to six weeks compared with the five to eight months required for traditional methods.
The Governments of Canada and Quebec have provided $8m and $60m loans, respectively, for the development of the project.
The municipal government has provided a $6.5m rebate on the purchase of the land and Québec International has provided assistance for the project development.
SNC-Lavalin received a $12.5m contract in July 2016 for providing design services for the new facility. The company will provide preliminary and detailed engineering services, procure equipment required for process fabrication, and also supply automation integration services under the contract.
Canadian company EBC will work as construction manager for the development of the facility under a contract awarded in August 2018.
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