Investment Profile

Univercells SA

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Univercells’ manufacturing platforms are designed to decentralize production of vaccines (and other biologics), combining their technology offering with operational support and training programs to develop local capacities and support regional healthcare systems’ resilience and autonomy.
A technician working in a laboratory
A technician working in the Univercells laboratories in Gosselies, Belgium. © Univercells/Anthony Dehez
Type Direct
Geography Global
Sector Health Care
Date 2020

Theory of Change

Our funding of Univercells will help prove that tech transfer involving modular platforms in lower- and middle-income countries is possible and can increase local production. In doing so, we will help demonstrate that one of the key barriers to scale-up of local manufacturing can be overcome and thus help build the foundations of a more equitable model for manufacturing critical medicines.

Challenge and Context

The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the limited capacity of low- and medium-income countries to secure access to critical vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments for their people. This situation is aggravated by an almost total lack of manufacturing capacity for vaccines and therapeutics, particularly acute in Sub-Saharan African countries.

Proposition

Univercells, founded in 2013, is a biomanufacturing infrastructure and services company focused on increasing the availability of affordable biologics. Capitalizing on bioprocessing and engineering expertise, the company offers innovative manufacturing solutions to alleviate the industry’s current shortfall in supply of cell and gene therapies, vaccines, and biotherapeutics. Its distributed manufacturing model will decentralize vaccine (and other biologics), manufacturing and licensing in key middle-income countries globally, thus developing local capacities and expertise that will strengthen regional healthcare systems’ resilience and autonomy.

Impact

SEDF’s investment will go to building tech transfer capacity within Univercells and the execution of 1–2 tech transfers into the Global South.

Why SEDF?

This investment is aligned with Open Society’s broad grant-giving to local partners and advocacy in support of access to healthcare in general, and to affordable drugs and therapies in particular.