Boehringer Ingelheim will join Zhangjiang Biotech & Pharmaceutical Base Development Co. (ZJ Base) in building a €35 million ($45 million) cGMP biopharmaceuticals facility in Pudong, Shanghai, the companies said.

Up to 65 jobs will be based at the new facility, which will be the first established by a leading international biopharmaceuticals manufacturer in China to use mammalian cell culture technology. The facility will include technical process development as well as cGMP manufacturing, and will be ready for operations in early 2016.

“With a number of innovative medicines being developed by a cluster of middle to small-sized innovative companies in Zhangjiang, plus the government support, we plan to initiate the CMO manufacturing framework at this plant on a trial basis,” Lanzhong Wang, ZJ Base’s general manager, said yesterday in a statement. “This will provide an effective platform for middle and small-sized companies to industrialize their innovations. Thus, it will greatly prompt the development of China’s biopharmaceuticals manufacturing industry.”

Boehringer Ingelheim has stepped up contract manufacturing activity, even rebranding what was Boehringer Ingelheim Biopharma Contract Manufacturing into Boehringer Ingelheim BioXcellence™. The company hopes its new name will persuade smaller drug developers it can provide an entire production technology chain from DNA to fill and finish under one roof at its facilities in Biberach (Germany), Vienna (Austria), and Fremont (USA).

Christian Boehringer, chairman of Boehringer Ingelheim’s shareholders committee, said in the statement that the company’s partnership with ZJ Base “is an important step in our global China strategy, as it opens a further opportunity for Boehringer Ingelheim to participate in the growing demand for high-quality biopharmaceuticals in China.”

The new facility will expand the presence Boehringer Ingelheim has had since 1994 in China. The company carries out research, development, manufacturing, and marketing activities in the world’s most populous nation, where it finished last year with €358 million ($472.5 million) in sales, up 32% from 2011 but still a small piece of BI’s €14.7 billion in total sales worldwide ($19.4 billion).

Two years ago, Boehringer Ingelheim said it would spend €70 million ($91 million at the time) to expand an existing company plant at Shanghai’s Zhangjiang High-Tech Park that opened in 2002 at a cost of $41 million. Shanghai is also home to other company operations, including the Asian Veterinary R&D center, where more than 30 scientists were working on improved vaccines for China and Southeast Asia at the end of 2012; and a chemical Center of Competence (CoC) opened in 2010.

China’s 12th Five-Year Plan (2011–15) identified biopharma as one of seven strategic sectors expected to comprise a combined 8% of GDP. China hopes to expand its biopharma workforce from 250,000 to 1 million jobs by 2015.

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