In the presence of high-level delegates from King Saud University, the SaudiVax Co. and GE, the National Industrial Clusters Development Program (NICDP) hosted the signing of mutual Memorandums of Understanding to localize the vaccine manufacturing industry the Kingdom and grow the academic research & development in line with the latest state-of-the-art technolog ies and innovation in the biotech industry.
The ceremony was attended by Dr. Abdul Rahman M Al-Muammar, CEO of University Medical City of KSU, John Rice, vice chairman and president of GE International, and the SaudiVax Company top leadership represented by Dr. Mazen M. Hassanain, CEO, and Dr. Donald Gerson, COO who is also CEO of PnuVax, Canada. They were joined by senior academics and dignitaries from a variety of private and government entities.
NICDP President Khalid M Al-Salem exuded excitement over the signing of such agreements, which will lay the foundation for a framework enabling the Kingdom to establish customized solutions for self-sufficiency and pandemic preparedness in the region and the entire Islamic World.
NICDP has spent the past years diligently analyzing and reviewing alternative technologies to enable localization of vaccine manufacturing. Now, Al-Salem, expressed excitement about bringing in GE as a strategic enabler, thanks to GE’s vast experience in biopharmaceutical manufacturing and drug discovery, including their flexible factories designed for the future needs of this industry.
In addition to localizing industries and diversifying the economy, NICDP further emphasized the critical role of Ministry of Health and its hopes of working closely together to achieve self-sufficiency and to resolve national health security issues.
Dr. Abdul Rahman M. Al-Muammar emphasized that KSU is building the required capacities to establish the full value chain to sustain successful vaccine localization in the Kingdom. In doing so, the university is building a vaccine Research & Development lab, a clinical trial unit, and an educational curriculum for technicians and specialized scientists. KSU and other academic institutions will play a critical role in building a knowledge-based community, serving the nation and seeking to achieve the ‘Saudi Vision 2030’.
In turn, the SaudiVax Company CEO Dr. Mazen M. Hassanain explained that SaudiVax is the creation of an indigenous, world class, state-of-the-art Halal vaccine and biopharmaceutical capability to serve the needs of Saudi Arabia and OIC member state countries. SaudiVax wants to make Saudi Arabia self-sufficient in a number of vital products and, in concert with its partners PnuVax and KSU, to have the capability to respond quickly to emerging localized issues. SaudiVax will employ a significant number of highly qualified and skilled Saudi Nationals in support of the ‘Saudi Vision 2030’.
From his side, NICDP VP for Pharmaceutical and Biotech Nizar Y. Al-Hariri emphasized the importance of biopharma self-sufficiency not only for the Kingdom but for the entire Middle East region, due to the economic and geo-political challenges. Al-Hariri pointed out that the Kingdom must lead the way serving the entire Islamic community establishing local vaccine manufacturing protecting all, from our young children to the entire population in the case of an epidemic outbreak.
David Carr, president and CEO of GE Healthcare, Saudi Arabia, said: “Building local manufacturing units for vaccines serves both the needs of the Kingdom and surrounding countries. The goal is not only to provide the technology and ability to enable self-sufficiency and ensure a faster pandemic response, but also to drive diversification of the economy by establishing a new bio-tech industry and take the country a step closer to its ‘Saudi Vision 2030’.”
In line with Saudi Vision 2030, it is worth noting that the NICDP is focused in developing other industries including automotive, and specialized downstream industries in metals and plastics. Currently, NICDP and its board of directors are reviewing additional critical industries, such as military, energy and water desalination.
Giant Indian pharmaceuticals manufacturer Aurobindo has become the latest global conglomerate to launch at King Abdullah Economic City’s Industrial Valley.
The company’s investment arm has leased a site in Phase One of the Industrial Valley to build its first manufacturing facility in Saudi Arabia, set to produce oral tablets and capsules. The deal is part of the joint effort by KAEC and the National Industrial Clusters Development Program, with pharmaceuticals being one of six major industries targeted by the drive.
“This partnership is yet another indicator that KAEC is moving forward with its strategic goals and future vision,” said Fahd Al-Rasheed, Managing Director and CEO of KAEC. “[KAEC]has been extremely successful in attracting the capital investment of local and international companies that know that KAEC is the ideal place to invest in across the region, thanks to a superior quality of life and world-class public services.
Aurobindo has more than 20 manufacturing facilities with several partnerships in India, Europe, the United States, and Brazil. The company intends to invest in a phased plan, starting with the production of medicines to treat chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. The facility is expected to generate more than 150 specialized jobs.
“The decision to base our company’s regional operations in Saudi Arabia came in response to the rising demand for our products in the [Arabian] Gulf,” he said. “Marking our entry into the Saudi market, the new factory in the Industrial Valley will be a major turning point for our company,” said Mr. Madan Mohan Reddy, Director of Aurobindo Pharma.
Khalid Al Salem, President of the National Industrial Clusters Development Program, praised the joint efforts the two sides had made to make the deal happen.
“The fact that we were able to attract this deal at this particular time, attests to the very strength of the Saudi economy,” said Al Salem. “Our national economy’s ability to attract even more global investors will facilitate the transfer of technology and get young Saudi men and women into high-quality, skilled jobs. I’m delighted on the professionalism dealing along the whole business conduct with the investors Nizar Hariri, the program’s Vice President for Pharma and Biotech Clusters, said that Aurobindo’s decision to enter the Saudi market was based on precise standards for the growth of high-quality drugs and competitively priced branded generics (Branded Generics).
The company has more than 230 drugs certified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, with some $2 billion in overall sales in more than 150 markets worldwide.
Rayan Qutub, CEO of the Industrial Valley, said, “Saudi Arabia’s drug industry is, by far, the largest in the region. The entry of a leading international company of Aurobindo Pharma’s caliber is yet another milestone in the Industrial Valley’s success in attracting world-renowned pharmaceutical manufacturers, all thanks to the unrivalled value it has to offer. This further bolsters the Industrial Valley’s status as the go-to destination in the Gulf for pharmaceutical investors.” “The Kingdom spent more than SAR28 billion on pharmaceuticals in 2014, and yet the national drug industry has barely cracked a 20 percent market share,” he continued. “This is why we have this sector among the six that the Industrial Valley has set its sights on. Localizing the drug and health care industries is a strategic priority to achieve health security for the Kingdom,” Qutub continued.
The Industrial Valley currently hosts more than 100 companies, as an increasing number of global investors have come to see it as a prime location for investment. Given the unhindered access to King Abdullah Port, it is the key destination for inbound and outbound logistics and products in the region, with the capability to serve 250 million consumers in the Arab world and East Africa.