Minister Champagne marks completion of construction of Biologics Manufacturing Centre in Montréal

From: National Research Council Canada

As Canadians begin to look towards recovery, the Government of Canada recognizes the importance of building Canada’s pandemic resilience. This includes increasing our domestic capacity to produce critical vaccines and therapeutics. The Government will continue to partner with industry and academic partners to protect Canadians from COVID-19, and to build our biomanufacturing capacity as part of our recovery plan.

Today, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced the completion of construction of the new Biologics Manufacturing Centre on the National Research Council of Canada’s (NRC) Royalmount site in Montréal, Québec. The construction phase of this project has been completed on budget and ahead of schedule.

Once fully licensed and operational, the Biologics Manufacturing Centre will have full end-to-end manufacturing capabilities. With approximately 5,400 square metres (58,000 square feet) of space, it will have a production capacity of approximately 24 million doses of a vaccine per year, varying based on the specific vaccine requirements.

Installation of critical equipment continues at the Biologics Manufacturing Centre. A number of further steps are still required for Health Canada to license the facility, enabling the production of vaccines for human use.

The NRC is continuing to work with Novavax, Inc. to produce their COVID-19 vaccine at the Biologics Manufacturing Centre once both the vaccine candidate and the facility receive Health Canada approvals.

Quotes

“The health and safety of Canadians have always been our top priority. We are proud to deliver this project for Canadians, which will ensure Canada is equipped with the capacity to produce vaccines for whatever the future may hold. Novavax choosing to produce their vaccine here in Montréal shows that, with the right investments, Canada can be a destination of choice for biomanufacturing. This project will also support the continued development and growth of Canada’s vibrant life sciences industry.”

– The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

“This project is another important step forward in strengthening Canada’s capacity to manufacture vaccines, and this new facility will help us be better prepared for future pandemics.”

– The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health

“The NRC and our many partners built and equipped the Biologics Manufacturing Centre in 10 months, on budget and ahead of schedule. Everyone involved in this project demonstrated total commitment to the goal of building up Canadian capability to produce vaccines and biologic products. We look forward to putting this facility to use to meet Canadian pandemic preparedness objectives and supporting our life sciences industry. We are now focussed on the next milestones of obtaining the necessary drug establishment licence from Health Canada and working with Novavax to complete technology transfer of its vaccine and beginning the production process as soon as possible.”

– Mitch Davies, President, National Research Council of Canada

Quick facts

  • Growing Canada’s life sciences and biomanufacturing sector is a priority that goes beyond responding to COVID-19. This is a growing sector that supports thousands of good, middle-class jobs.

  • Budget 2021 proposes to provide a total of $2.2 billion over 7 years towards growing a vibrant domestic life sciences sector. This support would provide foundational investments to help build Canada’s talent pipeline and research systems, as well as foster the growth of Canadian life sciences firms, including:

    • $59.2 million over 3 years, starting in 2021-22, for VIDO to develop its vaccine candidates and expand its facility in Saskatoon.
    • $500 million over 4 years, starting in 2021-22, for the Canada Foundation for Innovation to support the bioscience capital and infrastructure needs of post-secondary institutions and research hospitals.
    • $250 million over 4 years, starting in 2021-22, for the federal research granting councils to create a new tri-council biomedical research fund.
    • $92 million over 4 years, starting in 2021-22, for adMare to support company creation, scale-up and training activities in the life sciences sector.
    • $45 million over 3 years, starting in 2022-23, to the Stem Cell Network to support stem cell and regenerative medicine research.
  • On August 31, 2020, the Government of Canada announced an investment of $126 million to design, construct, commission, and qualify a new biomanufacturing facility adjacent to its Royalmount site in Montréal.

  • The Biologics Manufacturing Centre will be able to produce cell-based biopharmaceuticals like vaccines and other biologics, including viral vector, protein subunit, virus-like particles, and other recombinant proteins.

  • The National Research Council of Canada is responsible for the construction, fit-up and initial operation of the Biologics Manufacturing Centre.

  • Construction of the Biologics Manufacturing Centre took only 10 months, whereas construction of similar facilities typically takes 2 years or more to complete. This accelerated timeline was accomplished through deliberate decisions made to:

    • design and finalize the interior layout in parallel with the construction of the building shell;
    • employ multiple teams of contractors to enable consecutive work shifts; and
    • work with Canadian suppliers with the expertise, capacity, and ability to deliver despite the aggressive timeline and complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The National Research Council of Canada and Novavax are working closely together on the technology transfer to establish the step-by-step process of producing the Novavax vaccine at the Biologics Manufacturing Centre. This critical step is expected to take several months with the completion of engineering runs targeted for the end of December 2021, pending the required Health Canada regulatory approvals.

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