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kENUP Foundation: EIB and FIND back innovative plant-based reagent manufacturing in Africa to fight COVID-19 and other endemic diseases

African reagent manufacturing for rapid testing kits and treatment for COVID-19 and other endemic diseases will be transformed by construction of a new Cape Biologix Technologies facility in Mauritius.

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This will enable the company to scale up innovative plant-based manufacturing and to commercialise the successful development of plant based recombinant proteins and in particular, antibodies as a spin-off from the University of Cape Town. The manufacturing facility aims to ensure the supply of crucial reagents for the production of 100 million vaccines a month for distribution across Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific.

Initiated by kENUP Foundation, new financing from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and FIND (Foundation for Innovative New Diagnostics) for the EUR 47.5 million project was formally agreed earlier today. The EIB will provide EUR 33.3 million for the specialist manufacturing plant in Mauritius. This has been complemented by EUR 3.2 million provided by FIND that is being used to fund the rapid scale-up of the pilot phase production in Cape Town, South Africa.

“Scaling up medical innovation and specialist manufacturing is crucial to control COVID-19 and combat other diseases that can be treated, but where treatment remains a limited privilege. EIB is pleased to provide EUR 33.3 million to support Cape Biologix to expand pharmaceutical production, create jobs and increase access to affordable disease testing and treatment across Africa and around the world by increasing the affordability of key proteins. This new investment is bringing world class research from laboratories in Cape Town to improve the lives of millions of people. As part of Team Europe, the EIB is committed to working together with global partners to reduce the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and improve public health in the years ahead.” said Ambroise Fayolle, EIB Vice President.

“Local innovation and manufacturing are critical to ensuring that quality tests can reach all who need them. We are very happy to build on our longstanding relationships in South Africa to work together on this transformative project with Cape Bio, in partnership with the EIB, translating exciting research into tangible products that will benefit everyone in the region. Building local capacity is not only needed today for COVID-19, but will also improve South Africa’s preparedness to respond to future threats.” said Dr Catharina Boehme, CEO of FIND.

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