The groundbreaking of the first R&D vaccine center in the Middle East takes place in Saudi Arabia

16 Dec

The groundbreaking of the first R&D vaccine center in the Middle East takes place in Saudi Arabia

THUWAL, SAUDI ARABIA, December 15th, 2018: The groundbreaking of the Saudi Vaccine and Biomanufacturing Center (SVBC), the first of its kind in the Middle East, was celebrated at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) on Saturday.

The groundbreaking ceremony was under the patronage of HE Eng. Khalid Al-Falih, Saudi Minister of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources and KAUST Board Chairman, and in the presence of KAUST’s strategic partners, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), The Industrial Clusters (IC), Research Products Development Company (RPDC), and SaudiVax Ltd.

The Saudi Vaccine and Biomanufacturing Center is the first research and industrial center in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East to develop vaccines and biopharmaceutical products. It will run in adherence to good manufacturing practice (GMP) for biologic pharmaceutical drugs production and will develop and produce the first line of defense against epidemic risks in the Kingdom, such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).

The center is based at the KAUST Research and Technology Park, which is home to world leading tenants in the fields of research and development. Their choice of KAUST embodies the University’s long-term commitment to pushing the industry forward.

“The KAUST Research and Technology Park is an innovation base for 28 companies – from startups to multinationals – and offers partners access to KAUST’s cutting edge lab facilities and the opportunity to collaborate with our world-class faculty, researchers and students,” said Tony Chan, president of KAUST.

The joint project is championed by the Ministry of Energy, Industry and Mineral Resources through the Industrial Clusters Program and is supported by KACST.

President of KACST, Prince Turki bin Saud bin Mohammed Al Saud, underlined the importance of this national project for the Kingdom and KACST’s keenness to support the establishment of “a world class national platform for research and pharmaceutical innovation; hoping to translate research discoveries into biopharmaceuticals that can be tested in clinical trials and manufactured into marketable products.”

The center will be manpowered by young Saudi graduates in the fields of science and technology and will be a training platform for those specialized in the biopharmaceutical industry.

“This agreement will establish the basic pillars of the support of advanced pharmaceutical industries,” said Nizar bin Yousef Jamal Al-Hariri, president of the IC. “It will support Saudi training programs dedicated to advance this industry that is of great importance to the Kingdom and the region at economic, healthcare and social levels with the National Industry Development and Logistics Program supported by His Excellency the Minister of Industry Eng. Khalid Al-Falih,” he added.

The groundbreaking ceremony is a significant milestone that follows the agreement that the Research Products Development Company (RPDC), a subsidiary of the Saudi Technology Development and Investment Company (TAQNIA), signed with SaudiVax to establish the R&D center. A cooperation agreement was signed between SaudiVax and with Samsung Engineering for the construction of SVBC, with GE Healthcare to supply the equipment and with Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies for the development of a treatment for MERS-CoV.

“Together, with our partners, our vision is to create an advanced center that takes biopharmaceutical research from the lab through to the delivery of patient health in Saudi Arabia,” Chan said.

The size of the vaccine market in Saudi Arabia 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.

About RPDC:

Established in 2015, RPDC is a national resource for commercialization of innovative research and development activities, connecting the academic and industrial R&D centers to bring the power of its innovative research to be translated into breakthrough technology in alignment with the Saudi Vision 2030. (Visit for more information)

About KAUST:

Established in 2009, KAUST is a graduate-level research university located on the shores of the Red Sea in Saudi Arabia. The University is dedicated to advancing science and technology through interdisciplinary research, education and innovation. Curiosity-driven and goal-oriented research is conducted by students, faculty, scientists and engineers to address the world’s pressing scientific and technological challenges related to food, water, energy and the environment. (Visit for more information)

About KACST:

King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) is a scientific government institution that supports and enhances scientific applied research. It coordinates the activities of government institutions and scientific research centers in accordance with the requirements of the development of the Kingdom. (Visit for more information)

About IC:

Established in 2008, the Industrial Clusters (IC) is an esteemed leading government business development and consulting powerhouse supporting Saudi Vision 2030 under the umbrella of MEIM. Its main function is to lead the country economy diversification from oil and increasing the manufacturing share to the GDP.  IC role is to assist and facilitate the requirements needed to make an industrial investment a reality in Saudi Arabia. (Visit  For more information)

About SaudiVax:

The objective of SaudiVax is the creation of an indigenous, world class, state-of-the art GMP vaccine and biomanufacturing capability to serve the needs of the OIC Member State Countries. SaudiVax intends to make Saudi Arabia self-sufficient for a number of vital products and, in concert with its partner PnuVax, to have the capability to respond quickly to emerging localized issues. (Visit for more information)

“Pictures courtesy of KAUST, taken by Khulud Muath”

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