Medicago said today it will locate a planned C$245 million ($200 million) production complex for plant-based vaccines and therapeutics in Quebec City, more than doubling its workforce there by 2019.
The complex will create 200 new jobs when completed in 2019, Medicago said, adding to its workforce of 180 employees now based at the company’s Quebec City office and laboratories.
Medicago said the new 473,612-square-foot facility will be located on a 968,752-square-foot site within Quebec City's Espace d'innovation D'Estimauville.
The company produces vaccines and therapeutic proteins based on its own Virus-Like Particles (VLPs) and manufacturing technologies. The new facility will give Medicago the capacity to deliver up to 40 to 50 million doses of quadrivalent seasonal flu vaccines, as well as work towards developing new products.
Medicago's technology uses plants to quickly produce large quantities of vaccines or treatments. The technology enabled production of candidate vaccines for H1N1 in 2009, and H7N9 in 2013, in just 19 days, compared to the several months required to produce vaccines using eggs.
Medicago recently won a U.S. government contract to manufacture Ebola antibodies in its Quebec City pilot production plant for a study in non-human primates. The technology can quickly produce large amounts of antibodies, thereby boosting production volumes to increase stockpiles across the globe, according to the company.
“We will export most of our vaccines to foreign markets, but we also believe our new production complex will help Canada meet its needs for seasonal and pandemic flu vaccines, in addition to strengthening the country's response to emerging diseases around the world,” Medicago CEO Andy Sheldon said in a statement.
The complex will also enable Medicago to regroup its head office, R&D activities, and commercial production plant.
Medicago said it chose to locate the complex in Quebec City because of the availability of qualified employees, a world-class research infrastructure, dynamic business culture and support from the federal, provincial, and municipal governments.
The support from all three levels of government took the form of loans or discounted land purchase costs. The governments of Canada and Quebec provided loans of C$8 million ($6.5 million) and C$60 million ($49 million), respectively. The municipal government contributed support valued at C$6.5 million ($3.7 million). Medicago also credited the regional economic development agency Québec International with supporting the project through its development.
The company said its project is expected to generate more than C$461 million ($376 million) in direct and indirect economic benefits over the next five years, citing an estimate from the Institut de la Statistique du Québec.