The European Commission has given the go-ahead for Germany to grant a proposed €78 million in aid to help Merck KGaA build a new biopharmaceuticals plant for the production of oncology products in Jena, Thuringen.
The German government applied for approval to give the grant in March, under the Comission's Multisectoral Framework on regional aid for large investment projects. The recipient will be Merck BioFab GmbH, part of the Merck Group, which is active in specialised chemical, pharmaceutical and laboratory products.
The project concerns the establishment of a new biopharmaceuticals plant in which oncology drugs will be produced. The candidate cancer treatments will be based on antibodies derived from cloning of animal cells and are intended to treat various forms of malignancy.
The BioFab facility is due for completion in 2006 and will include laboratories, offices, warehouse and a current Good Manufacturing Practice mammalian cell culture plant.
The total proposed aid amounts to just over 30 per cent of the total investment costs of €254 million, and well within the 35 per cent ceiling on such regional aid imposed by the Commission. According to Germany, the project will lead to the creation of 280 direct jobs and a further 211 jobs in the region, according to the EC.
"The Commission's investigation showed that the market for oncology products, in which Merck BioFab will be active, is not in decline and in fact has grown faster than the overall manufacturing industry over the last years," said the agency in a statement.