Large-scale biotech facility to ensure future supply of antibody drugs

The global biopharmaceutical company UCB wanted to build a new antibody production facility in Bulle, Switzerland. In charge of project management, NNE applied our biotech expertise throughout all project phases.

The facility, which produces UCB’s antibody-based drugs is the company’s first large-scale commercial biotech manufacturing facility.

The facility is the key to ensuring that the company’s supply of Cimzia® (certolizumab pegol), which treats the symptoms of Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis, meets the needs of the patients. Previously, the Cimzia® production was outsourced to contract manufacturing organisations, but only a few of them had the required capacities to keep up with growing demand. “It was therefore important for us to be able to produce Cimzia® in-house, to control supply and ensure we deliver first class quality products,” says Amer Jaber, Vice President and General Manager of UCB Farchim and Head of Biotech CoE.

In the fast lane

On 22 December 2010, UCB announced its Bulle plans and at the same time its ambitions to have the facility fully operational by 2015.

In charge of project management, NNE focused all its efforts to support this ambitious timeline. Kicking off on 30 June 2011, we completed the conceptual design in two months and the basic in five and were able to start the detailed design on 1 February 2012. On 4 May 2012 the first cornerstone was laid and we had a watertight building in December 2012. A year after, the facility was ready for performance qualification, and the facility was inaugurated in October 2014.

NNE’s international project team comprised around 70 people from China, Switzerland and Denmark. “Multi-site execution means that we can provide UCB with a project team that comprises all the necessary capabilities and know-how that a fast-track project of this size requires,” says project director, Lars Holmgaard Olsen.

Coupling speed and sustainability

While a fast-track approach has huge benefits, such as getting products faster to market, it often poses an obstacle to implementing a sustainability focus in the project. To overcome it, NNE carried out an initial assessment of the project’s main sustainability impacts on environment, health and safety and climate.

Subsequently, in close cooperation with UCB, we developed a sustainability one-pager, which described the desired sustainability level for the facility, including success criteria. By defining the sustainability footprint so early in the project, we were able to implement improvement measures in the project design from the beginning.

Multi-site execution means that we can provide UCB with a project team that comprises all the necessary capabilities and know-how that a fast-track project of this size requires.

Lars Holmgaard Olsen, Project Director, NNE

Quick facts

Customer

UCB Farchim SA

Country

Switzerland

Facility size

18,500 m2

Project duration

Jul. 2011 – Dec. 2013

Services provided

Conceptual design, basic design, EPCMV (engineering, procurement, construction management and validation) and handover