Business digest

C&I Issue 4, 2023

Read time: 5 mins

Danish pharma Novo Nordisk has announced plans to expand its R&D presence in the greater Boston metro area, US, creating one of its largest R&D hubs outside of Denmark. This new hub, which will leverage the company’s existing presence in Lexington, Cambridge and Watertown, Massachusetts, will be home to the majority of Novo Nordisk’s US-based R&D activities.

Sandoz, a Swiss manufacturer of generic pharmaceuticals and biosimilars, has signed a MoU to build a new biologics production plant in Lendava, Slovenia. Work is to begin this year, with full operations provisionally planned for late 2026.

INEOS Energy, the energy division of UK chemical company INEOS, is entering US oil and gas production for the first time with the acquisition of a portion of Chesapeake Energy’s oil and gas assets in the Eagle Ford shale, south Texas for $1.4bn.

The UK’s National Measurement Laboratory (NML) at LGC (formerly the Laboratory of the Government Chemist) has received an award from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) to develop standards and deliver metrology training for engineering biology. In partnership with BBRSC and the UK standards and accreditation bodies, BSI and UKAS, this programme aims to increase awareness and engagement with metrology and standards across the engineering biology research community, developing common best practice to ensure reliability and comparability of data.

ViridiCO2, a spin-out from the School of Chemistry at the University of Southampton, UK, has successfully closed a £3m seed funding round led by Swedish venture capital business EQT Ventures. ViridiCO2 works to deliver carbon capture utilisation (CCU) technology for the global chemicals industry to cut CO2 emissions and create new high-value chemical products from the captured CO2.

US sulfuric acid process technology company MECS, a subsidiary of US process engineering company Elessent Clean Technologies, has won a contract to provide a sulfuric acid plant to Lithium Americas. The 3000t/day plant will be located at Lithium Americas’ Thacker Pass operation in Nevada, US, which is the largest lithium carbonate processing plant in North America.

US biotech Moderna, which develops messenger RNA (mRNA) therapeutics and vaccines, has selected Harwell in Oxfordshire, UK, as the location for its Moderna Innovation and Technology Centre (MITC). The development will encompass a research, development and manufacturing facility, providing the UK with access to mRNA vaccines for a wide range of respiratory diseases, pending regulatory assessment and licensure. The MITC will also include a clinical biomarker laboratory – a prefabricated modular laboratory constructed in Northumberland. The facility is expected to become operational in 2025, subject to planning and regulatory approvals. The investment will create hundreds of jobs across Oxfordshire and the UK and will cement Harwell Campus as a national health tech hub for pioneering R&D of mRNA and other nucleic acid therapeutics.

German pharma and biotech Bayer, in combination with US technology and computer services corporation Microsoft, has launched new cloud-based solutions for the agri-food industry. The system uses Microsoft’s Azure data manager for agriculture and offers capabilities that include: tracking crop health; identifying areas in fields that need attention through satellite images; and understanding crop evaporation and transpiration levels, and potential crop loss areas due to lack of water – key drivers for water management and irrigation planning.

Belgian chemical company Solvay and Cyclic Materials, a Canadian cleantech startup producing sustainable rare earth elements for downstream processing, have signed a MoU for the production and supply of recycled mixed rare earth oxides (rMREO). Under the agreement, the supply of rMREO will be sent from Cyclic Materials’ site in Ontario, Canada to Solvay’s plant in La Rochelle, France. The project is part of significant efforts to build domestic supply chains in Europe and North America, producing raw materials to be fed into the supply chains of automobiles, renewable wind energy and electronics.

US specialty chemicals company Solenis and Diversey Holdings, a US provider of cleaning and hygiene products, have entered into a merger agreement where Solenis will acquire Diversey in an all-cash transaction valued at an enterprise value of approximately $4.6bn. Upon completion of the merger, Diversey will become a private company.

US pharma and biotech Pfizer and US biotech Seagen, which is focused on developing and commercialising monoclonal antibody-based therapies for the treatment of cancer, have announced a definitive merger agreement. Pfizer will acquire Seagen for $229 in cash/share for a total value of $43bn. The Boards of both companies have unanimously approved the transaction.

500,000t pa
British speciality chemicals and sustainable technologies company Johnson Matthey is to provide the methanol license and engineering services for Perstorp Group’s Project Air in Stenungsund, Sweden. This will be one of the first large-scale sustainable methanol plants, producing 200,000 t/year. The plant will substitute all the fossil methanol used by Perstorp in Europe as a raw material for chemical products with sustainable methanol, reducing CO2 emissions by 500,000 t/year.

A new 1100m2 specialised life sciences laboratory will be built on the roof space of The Francis Crick Institute in London. The first industry partner to occupy the space is US pharma MSD, which has agreed a three-year lease on the new Skylab. Construction starts in spring 2023 and MSD scientists are expected to move in as early as April 2024.

5 years
Cancer Research Horizons, a specialist oncology drug discovery, development and commercialisation company at Cancer Research UK, and the Experimental Drug Development Centre (EDDC), Singapore’s national platform for drug discovery and development, have announced a five-year strategic partnership. The alliance will focus on leveraging the complementary capabilities, platforms and technologies from both partners.

Swiss specialty chemicals company Archroma, which focuses on products for the textiles, packaging and paper, paints and coatings industries, has acquired the Textile Effects business of US chemicals company Huntsman Corporation for $593m.

UK pharma and biotech AstraZeneca is creating 500 scientific and high-tech jobs in the Greater Toronto Area in a major expansion of its research footprint in Canada. The investment will contribute to AstraZeneca’s R&D Hub in Mississauga (Toronto), which focuses on global clinical studies in areas including breast, lung and prostate cancer, Covid-19 and chronic kidney disease. It also includes the creation of a new Rare Disease Development Hub with US pharma Alexion Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of AstraZeneca.

The UK Department for Business and Trade has announced £15m of funding to launch the CLIMATES (CircuLar crItical MATErials Supply chains) programme. Delivered by Innovate UK, the programme will support innovations in the recycling of rare earth elements, as well as R&D, engagement with international partners and activities to identify and support future skills needs. Rare earth supply chains are complex, with volatile markets, and most critical minerals are sourced from just a handful of countries. This leaves UK jobs and industries vulnerable to market shocks and geopolitical events. The programme also aims to unlock private investment in projects to develop reliable supply chains for these resources.

Nottingham Trent University has joined a £4.5m research project to establish a process to recycle or reuse electric vehicle batteries to help prevent up to 9m t of battery waste per year going to landfill. A £582,000 grant has been awarded to the university’s Advanced Design and Manufacturing Engineering Centre as part of the European-wide REBELION project to recycle electric vehicle Li-ion batteries. The project, which is supported by the European Horizon programme and incorporates 11 organisations from across Europe, will also establish how recycling electric vehicle batteries could create a major source of Li-ion on the continent.

German chemical distribution company Brenntag has bought Aik Moh Group, a southeast Asia chemical distributor and service provider headquartered in Singapore.

US materials science company Dow and X-Energy Reactor Company, a US developer of nuclear reactors and fuel technology for energy generation, have announced a joint development agreement to demonstrate the first grid-scale advanced nuclear reactor for an industrial site in North America. Dow will work with X-energy to install the Xe-100 high-temperature gas-cooled reactor plant at one of Dow’s US Gulf Coast sites, providing the site with low-carbon power and steam.

German specialty chemicals company Evonik has opened a new facility to manufacture custom and proprietary lipids for advanced pharmaceutical drug delivery applications at the its site in Hanau, Germany, to provide customers with quantities needed for clinical and small-scale commercial manufacturing.

German chemicals company BASF is investing in its aroma ingredients business with a new citral plant at its site in Zhanjiang, China, and menthol and linalool downstream plants in Ludwigshafen, Germany. Citral is an acyclic monoterpene aldehyde with a strong lemon (citrus) scent. The investment, driven by a growing demand from the global flavour and fragrance market, will increase annual capacity of citral production to 118,000t when the plants come on stream, expected to be from 2026 onwards.

BASF Japan, a subsidiary of BASF, has announced that the high-pressure regenerative CO2 capture technology HiPACT co-developed by BASF and its Japanese engineering partner JGC Corporation will be used by INPEX, one of Japan’s largest exploration and production companies, in its Kashiwazaki Clean Hydrogen/Ammonia Project. This is Japan’s first demonstration project for the production of blue hydrogen/ammonia from domestically produced natural gas.

German science and technology company Merck and US semiconductor designer and manufacturer Intel are funding a new academic research programme in Europe to enable more sustainable semiconductor manufacturing. The programme will leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies to drive innovation in semiconductor manufacturing processes and technologies. The companies have signed a MoU aimed at making a joint investment over three years. Potential research areas include more environmentally friendly materials and more efficient use of resources.

Evonik’s Coatings Additives line has introduced TEGO Dispers 780W, a water-borne dispersant for printing inks. It is described as ‘a one-stop solution for classical grinds resin-reduced and resin-free grinds. The product can also be used for food packaging applications. Evonik is also launching an efficient polyacrylate-based levelling agent, TEGO Flow 380, suitable for solvent-borne coatings, especially clear coats. It is characterised by excellent anti-popping properties and good compatibility.

Swiss speciality chemicals company Clariant has unveiled its new active ingredient Beracare CBA, a blend of oils from renewable resources in the Amazon, including copaiba oil, which comes from tree resin that can be sustainably extracted to preserve the tree. Beracare CBA offers a natural alternative to cannabidiol to soothe sensitive skin, suffered by around 50% of women and 40% of men. It provides a CBD-like effect by targeting the skin’s endocannabinoid system, activating the CB2 receptors.

Clariant has developed a new rheology modifier for skin care formulations: Aristoflex Eco T, which is naturally derived and biodegradable. It is derived from Tara Gum, obtained from the Tara spinosa plant that grows in the Peruvian Andes, and can stabilise oils and pigments for products ranging from sun care products to facial creams, body lotions and skin sera.

DSM Engineering Materials, part of Royal DSM, has partnered with start-up company DiFOLD to develop foldable re-usable products. DSM’s bio-based thermoplastic copolyester, Arnitel Eco, partially derived from renewable rapeseed oil, is being used to produce DiFOLD’s Origami foldable water bottle.

Become an SCI Member to receive benefits and discounts

Join SCI