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Biogen plans to build a biologics manufacturing plant in northwest Switzerland using next-generation technologies to create efficiency and sustainability.
Biogen announced its intent to build a next-generation biologics manufacturing facility in the Commune of Luterbach, in Canton Solothurn in the northwestern part of Switzerland, the company announced on June 30, 2015. The project will create up to 400 new jobs beginning in 2019.
"A partnership with Canton Solothurn gives us the critical elements we need to build one of the most advanced manufacturing facilities in the world. This includes a highly favorable business environment, critical environmental resources, and access to a highly qualified workforce. Switzerland is also home to our international headquarters, and from a business standpoint, this strategic commitment helps us to effectively extend our manufacturing network," said Natascha Schill, managing director of Biogen’s Swiss affiliate, in a press release.
The signing of the pre-contract starts a public consultancy process, in which the public will be informed about the project and have the opportunity to provide input. "We look forward to providing more information about this project with the Canton and Commune residents," said Schill. "We are also excited to share more about our company’s commitment to patients, the communities in which we operate, and our belief in working in a sustainable manner. "
In building the facility, Biogen plans to use a number of new technologies. "The proposed plant will be designed around higher productivity cell lines and make use of newly available materials and components to support the next-generation manufacturing processes," said the company in an interview with Pharmaceutical Technology. "On the engineering side, the plant will be built to handle the improvements in the manufacturing process and to optimize throughput by reducing turn-around times, resulting in shorter cycle times. More automation and stronger linkages with our business and quality systems will be implemented. Finally, on the operational side, there will be enhancements made around how our employees would work in the facility, and the plant would leverage new developments in paperless and electronic technology to further increase efficiencies."
Sustainability is another requirement of the facility design. Biogen announced, in a June 23, 2015 press release, that it had achieved carbon neutrality worldwide. This net-zero carbon footprint is a result of a multi-year initiative to reduce its own emissions and by investing in environmental projects to offset the remaining carbon associated with its business, including emissions from suppliers and employee commuting and business travel. Emission reductions came from investing in sustainable technologies and efficient facilities and manufacturing processes, including energy-efficient heating and cooling, power through cogeneration, and advanced distribution systems to conserve water. Biogen also keeps more than 99% of its waste out of landfills by recycling, composting, or burning it to create energy, the company said in the press release.
Biogen was founded in Geneva, Switzerland in 1978. The company has manufacturing facilities in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Research Triangle Park, North Carolina; and Hillerød, Denmark.