Basel, Switzerland— Lonza and Sanofi have announced that they have plans to build and operate a large-scale mammalian cell culture facility for monoclonal antibody production in Visp, Switzerland. Their partnership is a joint venture with an initial investment of around CHF 290 million ($288 million) to be split equally between each company.

Lonza is a leading supplier to the life-science industries, including pharmaceutical, biotechnology, academic, and government research industries. Sanofi is a global life sciences company that provides healthcare solutions including health care products, services, and vaccines. Marc Funk, COO Pharma & Biotech, Lonza said that this partnership is a “win-win situation for all participants.”

The joint venture combines Sanofi’s strong biologics development pipeline with Lonza’s expertise to design, construct, and operate a state-of-the-art large-scale mammalian cell culture facility. Lonza has previously built and licensed three similar facilities in the U.S. and Singapore.

The result is high quality therapeutics made available to patients. Phillipe Luscan, executive vice president of Sanofi said, “Approximately sixty percent of our pipeline is made up of biologics, including monoclonal antibodies, dedicated to key disease areas such as cardiovascular, immunology and inflammation, neurology and oncology.” He states that Lonza is a highly experienced partner and “the capabilities which this joint venture will create are critical to meeting our patients’ needs for these important therapies.”

As for the strategic roadmap of Lonza and Sanofi, “each party will share the available capacity in line with their equity shareholding in the joint venture. Sanofi will have additional access to bio-manufacturing capacity to support increasing demands for their portfolio of biologic therapeutic products… while Lonzo will be free to market their share of capacity, if not required by Sanofi.”  This enables Sanofi to react quickly to fluctuations in demand, while providing Lonza with the capacities to respond to manufacturing demands.

Construction will begin in 2017 and the facility is expected to be fully operational by 2020.