Pennsylvania Biotech Industry Proves Crucial During Pandemic
Funding helps to accelerate research and production of breakthrough COVID-19 treatments and vaccines.
When the world was thrust into uncertainty due to the growing COVID-19 pandemic, Pennsylvania’s life science ecosystems sprang into action.
Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration accelerated funding for pandemic response. Twenty-three awardees received $10 million in grant funding through the COVID-19 Vaccines, Treatments and Therapies (CV-VTT) program to support rapid advancements by qualified biotechnology entities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We know that the only way we can get back to our normal lives is by developing a robust testing and tracing infrastructure combined with effective, safe and affordable treatments and vaccines,” Wolf says.
Of the 23 grants, $6.8 million was awarded to 12 vaccine projects, nearly $1.2 million was awarded to five therapy projects, nearly $1.6 million was awarded to five treatment projects, and $430,000 was awarded to a project supporting physical infrastructure.
Additionally, the Manufacturing PA Innovation Program COVID-19 Challenge identified state research institutions at Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh, Villanova University and Lehigh University to rapidly develop and deploy new technology and products to help with the COVID-19 response.
Across the state, life science companies were at the front lines of innovation. UK-based Sartorius Stedim purchased a small medical testing equipment manufacturer located in Adams County. Integral Molecular Inc. in Philadelphia used its expertise to prepare virus particles from SARS-CoV-2 and related coronaviruses to create tools, services and therapeutics being used directly for therapeutic and vaccine development.
New Facility in York County
In May 2021, BioTechnique relocated to York County and started production on injectable vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine. The former PSC Biotech Corp. opened its new facility in Conewago Township, investing more than $22 million and bringing 100 new jobs to the region.
BioTechnique purchased a vacant 160,000-square-foot pharmaceutical manufacturing facility and plans to invest in infrastructure, new equipment and extensive employee training.
BioTechnique General Manager John Clapham said partnership with local and state agencies was critical in the company’s ability to acquire and repurpose the facility. At a ribbon cutting for the new facility, Clapham said the company was able to tap some of the workers at the former pharmaceutical operation to come to work for BioTechnique.
“BioTechnique is American-owned,” Clapham said. “It is a contract manufacturing organization aimed at increasing domestic manufacturing capacity of vaccines and pharmaceuticals and reducing reliance on foreign supply chains.”
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