Qiagen doubles its R&D facilities in Barcelona Science Park to increase action capacity against COVID-19
Today, the Netherlands-based holding company QIAGEN N.V. has opened the facilities of its new pilot production plant in the Barcelona Science Park (PCB). With the investment made, the company expects to double its capacity to develop and manufacture diagnostic tests for COVID-19 in laboratories and hospitals around the world.
Now, with this expansion, the Qiagen center in the PCB has a total area of 2,800 m² -including space for development, quality control, administration, production, marketing and sales – and a team of more than 200 professionals, including pharmaceutical plant operators, operations engineers and R&D scientists. The Dutch holding company also plans to build a third production line and additional space for R&D, with extra investment, which will allow it to continue increasing the development and production of new detection systems for SARS-CoV-2 and other clinical determinations.
The new facilities were opened this morning, in a ceremony presided over by the Autonomous Government of Catalonia’s Minister for Business and Knowledge, Ramon Tremosa, and Dr Joan Elias, rector of the University of Barcelona, and which was attended by Nik Baumann, Head of Qiagen Barcelona; Maria Terrades, CEO of the Barcelona Science Park; Francesc Xavier Grau, Secretary for Universities and Research; Joan Gómez, Director General for Research; and Quim Ferrer, Secretary for Business and Competitiveness.
According to Nik Baumann, Head of Qiagen Barcelona, “the company is the world’s leading provider of Sample to Insight solutions in molecular diagnostics, and it currently supplies solutions in Molecular Diagnostics and Life Sciences to more than 500,000 customers around the world. Our global presence and production facilities are helping us enormously to increase our production volumes in recognition of the strong commercial potential and success of our QIAstat-Dx platform. We currently have two production lines – one in Barcelona and an additional one in Hilden, Germany – but our R&D and production capacity will increase substantially with an additional pilot line in Barcelona and a further one in Germany.”
In opinion of Maria Terrades, CEO of the Barcelona Science Park, “Stat-Dx is a benchmark of success in Catalan biotechnology. The company, which started in the PCB-Santander Bioincubator, grew organically thanks to its clear commitment to applied research and sound business management and it was eventually bought by a foreign entity that has demonstrated its commitment to the Park and to Catalonia as a place to continue promoting the project, now under the auspices of the Qiagen group.”
Technology “made in Barcelona” for the fight against Covid-19
Qiagen’s QIAstat-Dx technology was initially developed by Stat-Dx (DiagCORE), a company which hatched in the Barcelona Science Park, and which grew within the Park and was acquired by the Dutch group for some 154 million euros in 2018. Qiagen was able to swiftly adapt this technology – not initially aimed at the detection of SARS-CoV-2 – by involving professionals from all over the world, to create a rapid and accessible PCR diagnostic kit, in response to the enormous worldwide demand caused by COVID-19: the QIAstat-Dx Respiratory SARS-CoV-2 Panel. By mid-2020 it had obtained CE certification and FDA clearance for entry into the United States.
It is a PCR molecular diagnostic system, which can be used by any healthcare professional, allowing SARS-CoV-2 to be distinguished from 21 other respiratory pathogens –bacterial and viral– in approximately one hour, avoiding the need to send samples to patients’ primary point of care and, therefore, considerably speeding up the diagnosis of treatments, and isolation measures.
Currently, from its site in the Barcelona Science Park, Qiagen sells its QIAstat-Dx solution to more than 70 countries in the EU, Asia, Latin America and North America.