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Agreement signed for building of SaudiVax R&D Vaccine center

KAUST Interim President Nadhmi Al-Nasr (center) signs the agreement with Abdulmohsen Al-Majnouni, Chief Executive Officer of Research Products Development Company (right) and Donald Gerson (left), Chief Scientific and Operating Officer of SaudiVax.

On March 24, the Research Products Development Company (RPDC), a tenant in the KAUST Research and Technology Park, signed an agreement with SaudiVax to establish and operate the first research and industrial center in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East to develop vaccines and biopharmaceutical products.

The SaudiVax R&D Center, which will be supported by King Abdulaziz City of Science and Technology (KACST), will be hosted by KAUST and will be located in the KAUST Research and Technology Park. The R&D Center will provide state of the art facility for R&D and scale-up to develop and produce the first line of defense against epidemic risks in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It will also include a training platform for qualifying national competencies in the industrial field.

A cooperation agreement was signed with GE to supply equipment to the SaudiVax R&D Center and with Fujifilm Dayosent Biotechnology for the development of a treatment for Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV). The facility will be designed and commissioned by an international developer as a turnkey project.

"This is among several ambitious technological projects aimed at accelerating the localization of Saudi technologies and creating technical jobs in the fields of biomedical medicines and advanced industrial applications within the framework of Vision 2030," explained Nadhmi Al-Nasr, KAUST interim president. "The vaccine and advanced treatments industry is strategically important for the Kingdom, given the reception of millions of pilgrims from around the world annually."

"This is the first step to localize this important industry in the Kingdom. I hope it would be a starting point for industrial investment in research, development and medical innovation," said Saudi Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources and Chairman of the Board for KAUST and KACST Khalid Al-Falih.

The size of the vaccine market in the Kingdom is about $400 million annually, while biological medicines represent $1 billion, with an approximate annual growth rate of 15 percent. The size of the global vaccine market is about $30 billion, and the global biological medicines market is about $300 billion.