Novartis to invest $300mn in European biotherapeutics

Investing $300mn, Novartis aims to support the growth and diversity of its biotherapeutics portfolio with technical capabilities to expedite early development.

Novartis logo Novartis building in Stein, Switzerland [Credit: Taljat David]

Novartis building in Stein, Switzerland [Credit: Taljat David]

Novartis has revealed plans to invest $300 million in next-generation biotherapeutics. The multi-year investment will be implemented across existing Novartis locations in Switzerland, Slovenia and Austria to create a fully integrated, “dedicated scientific environment will bolster its capacity and capabilities for early technical development of biologics”.

“Across the industry, biotherapeutics account for almost one-half of all recent new drug approvals and have enormous potential to address unmet need across a wide range of diseases,” commented Reto Fischer, Head of Technical Research Division, Global Drug Development (GDD), Novartis. “We are building the scientific environment necessary to bring these complex biologic compounds from the bench through development in an integrated, seamless and rapid fashion. In doing so, we are supporting our broader ambition to enable faster development and focused prioritisation across our global portfolio.”

The company’s early-stage biologics portfolio has grown significantly in the last 15 years. It has also expanded beyond conventional monoclonal antibodies into a wide range of novel development candidates with potential to be first-in-class, best-in-class, or both, including antibody-drug conjugates and therapeutic proteins.

This investment aims to position Novartis at the forefront of biotherapeutic development, supporting the company’s increasingly complex pipeline with the most advanced technical infrastructure and highest level of capabilities.

The investment will:

  • Strengthen the Novartis St. Johann campus in Basel with the creation of a $100 million biologics hub to complement the existing Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research (NIBR) Biologics Center
  • Create a biocampus in Mengeš, Slovenia with $110 million invested in clinical manufacturing capabilities (including both current good manufacturing practice [cGMP] and non-cGMP) and technical development capabilities in proximity of development operations
  • “Amplify synergies and strategic proximity at the Schaftenau campus in Austria” with a $60 million investment in development manufacturing capacity and capabilities

Novartis said that the investment “will create seamless, end-to-end development and manufacturing environments by embedding biologics development within existing Novartis commercial manufacturing facilities in Slovenia and Austria,” and, with the strengthening of the Novartis St. Johann campus in Basel, “enhance development processes targeting faster transition times from pre-clinical to first in human studies.”

“The science of developing biologics is increasingly sophisticated and we are excited to meet its challenges head-on,” added Jonathan Novak, Global Head for Biologics, Technical Research Division, GDD at Novartis. “We look forward to amplifying the knowledge and experience of our associates to ensure that biologics development is an exhilarating and rewarding process for our current and future colleagues – and that is ultimately a source of profoundly innovative new therapies for patients worldwide.”