Fujifilm doubles down on Boston foothold, renting some major legroom to chase cell and gene therapies
Fujifilm has finally crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s on a new public-private partnership for a center focused on genetically modified cell therapies after the idea first came to fruition in late 2019.
On Thursday, the Japanese conglomerate and the Massachusetts Center for Advanced Biological Innovation and Manufacturing announced that they’d secured $76 million in funding and signed a lease for a 40,000 square-foot site in the greater Boston area.
The center will be housed at The Arsenal on the Charles in Watertown, which already counts NASH player Enanta Pharmaceuticals as one of its tenants.
The move propels Fujifilm even further up the chain of players in the biotech industry as its CDMO arm Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies has made major inroads in recent months, garnering interest in its viral vector capabilities for Covid-19 vaccines.
The new facility will prioritize R&D in cell and gene therapies, gene editing and immunotherapies, Fujifilm said. Fujifilm Diosynth will offer GMP contract process development and various manufacturing services for its role in the sprawling new innovation center.
CABIM will host eight cleanrooms that will be configured to produce both cell and viral vector products, in addition to quality control, lab and office space, and general collaborative space for the numerous stakeholders in what’s become one of the world’s leading life science hubs. The $76 million will cover construction costs, 40 full-time employees, and the center’s daily operations once it starts up in early 2022.
The funding haul came together as part of equal investments from Fujifilm, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cytiva and Alexandria Real Estate Equities.
“This collaboration supports our larger healthcare strategy to utilize the combined strength of the Fujifilm Group’s products and services to offer personalized life-altering treatment options to clinicians and their patients,” said Takatoshi Ishikawa, Fujifilm’s chief life science officer.
Just 14 days into the new year, Fujifilm has been remarkably busy. On Jan. 4, the company announced a $40 million investment in a new Boston-area headquarters for Fujifilm Diosynth to increase its viral vector and advanced therapy capacities (which it specified Thursday is separate from the CABIM facility), and three days later announced an eye-popping $2 billion investment for a new large-scale cell culture production plant near one of its existing US facilities.
The location of the $2 billion facility has not yet been determined, but it’s expected to be operational by 2025 and help boost Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies’ cumulative growth by 20% by March 2026.