The Dutch group Qiagen ha has inaugurated this Monday, November 23, the facilities of its new pilot production plant in the Barcelona Science Park (PCB). With this investment, the company hopes to double its capacity to develop and manufacture COVID-19 diagnostic tests for laboratories and hospitals worldwide.
With this expansion, the Qiagen center in the PCB has a total of 2,800 square meters, including development space, quality control, administration, production, marketing and sales. The human team is made up of more than 200 professionals, including pharmaceutical plant operators, operation engineers and research and development (R&D) scientists. In addition, the Dutch business group plans to build a third production line and expand the space for R&D, with extra investments, which will allow it to continue to increase the development and production of new systems for the SARS-CoV-2 detection and other clinical determinations.
The inauguration of the facilities took place today in an event chaired by the minister of Business and Knowledge, Ramon Tremosa, and the rector of the University of Barcelona, Joan Elias. Among the attendants was Nik Baumann, CEO of Qiagen Barcelona; Maria Terrades, general manager of the PCB; Francesc Xavier Grau, secretary for Universities and Research; Joan Gómez, general manager for Research, and Quim Ferrer, secretary for Business and Competitiveness.
The rector, Joan Elias, valued the extraordinary active the Barcelona Science Park represents, the “only ecosystem with such potential to create synergies in the biomedical field in the Catalan system, and actually, in all Spain”. He added that “A modest start-up with a good idea behind can only grow and become a global project in such an environment”. The rector also highlighted that the State project of budget law has a regulation that enables the resolution of the return of the subsidy the PCB received.
According to Nik Baumann, the company is the main leading provider of Sample to Insight solutions in molecular diagnostics worldwide, and it provides solutions in molecular diagnostics and life sciences to more than 500,000 customers worldwide. “Our global presence and the means of production –he said– are helping us enormously to increase our production volumes in recognition of the solid commercial potential and regarding the success of the QIAstat-Dx platform”. Baumann also commented on the company’s two production lines, one in Barcelona and another one in Hilden (Germany), adding that the capacity in R&D and production “will increase substantially with an additional pilot line in Barcelona and another in Germany”.
For Maria Terrades, CEO of the PCB, “Stat-Dx is a successful model in Catalan biotechnology. The company started in the PCB-Santander Bioincubator, grew organically thanks to a clear commitment to applied research and good business management and, finally, was bought by a foreign entity that has decided to bet on the Park and Catalonia as a place to continue making the project grow, now under the management of the Qiagen group”.
Made-in-Barcelona technology to fight COVID-19
Qiagen technology, QIAstat-Dx, was initially developed by Stat-Dx (DiagCORE), a company based in the Barcelona Science Park, which was created in the park and was purchased in 2018 by the Dutch group for 154 million euros.
Based on this technology, which was initially not aimed at detecting SARS-CoV-2, and involving professionals from around the world, Qiagen has created a PCR diagnostic kit, which is fast and accessible, in response to the great global demand caused by COVID-19: the QIAstat-Dx Respiratory SARS-CoV-2 Panel. By mid-2020, it had obtained the CE certification and FDA authorization to enter the United States.
It is a PCR molecular diagnostic system that can be used by any healthcare professional and can differentiate SARS-CoV-2 from 21 more respiratory pathogens –bacterial and viral– in approximately one hour. This avoids having to send samples outside the primary patient care point and therefore it speeds up the diagnosis, treatments, and isolation measures.
From its center in the Barcelona Science Park, Qiagen is currently selling the QIAstat-Dx solution to more than seventy countries in the European Union, Asia, Latin America and North America.