The Spanish Government has signed an initial agreement with biotechnology company Novavax, to license its virus-like-particle (VLP) vaccine technology to Spain’s Rovi and create a comprehensive influenza vaccine solution for the Spanish government.

Under a new €60m programme sponsored by the Spanish Ministry of Health and other government groups Rovi will use the VLP technology to develop pandemic and seasonal flu vaccines, and establish the government’s only in-border facility.

Separate agreements under negotiation by both companies should see Rovi receiving exclusive licenses to Novavax’s portable VLP vaccine technology to commercialise flu vaccines in Spain and Portugal, and non-exclusive licenses in Europe, Latin America and Africa.

In addition, under a stock purchase agreement Rovi has committed to make a $3m equity investment in Novavax at $2.74 per share, a 10% premium to the 29 June 2009 closing bid price.

Novavax president and CEO Rahul Singhvi said that the influenza vaccine supply solution consisting of VLP technology and portable manufacturing avoids the use of chicken eggs, creates vaccines for emerging strains faster, and promises less expensive, in-border manufacturing capacity.

“We continue to discuss opportunities with other pharmaceutical companies and governments to implement this compelling influenza vaccine technology around the globe,” Singhvi said.

A non-profit foundation, jointly sponsored by Rovi and Spanish authorities, will also be formed to support Phase III clinical development and other studies. In addition, the State of Andalucia will support Rovi in building a new €20m VLP vaccine plant in the city of Granada set for 2012.