EU inducement prize reaps rewards for European vaccine development SME
Brussels, 6 March 2015
One year ago, the German biopharmaceutical company CureVac GmbH won the EU’s first ever innovation inducement prize worth €2 million for making progress towards a novel technology to bring life-saving vaccines to people across the planet in safe and affordable ways. Today, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) has announced a commitment to invest €46 million in CureVac to accelerate the development of its innovative vaccine technology and the production of numerous vaccines against infectious diseases.
Carlos Moedas, Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation, said: "I warmly welcome the investment by the Gates Foundation in the CureVac vaccine technology. This investment comes on top of the funding provided by the EU. It's a beautiful illustration of what the European Commission is trying to achieve: stimulate innovation and attract additional private investment in research."
Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said: "If we can teach the body to create its own natural defenses, we can revolutionize the way we treat and prevent diseases. Technologies like mRNA give us confidence to place big bets for the future. We are pleased to partner with CureVac who has been pioneering this technology”.
CureVac is pioneering the use of natural and chemically unmodified messenger RNA (mRNA) as a data carrier to instruct the human body to produce its own proteins capable of fighting a wide range of diseases.
Following the success of its first inducement prize, the European Commission has decided to launch new inducement prizes to stimulate innovation and find solutions to problems that matter to European citizens. For example, the recently launched Horizon Prize for better use of antibiotics, worth €1 million, invites competitors to develop a diagnostic test to combat antibiotic resistance.
CureVac’s novel technology allows for rapid, low-cost production of multiple drugs and vaccines. CureVac’s mRNA vaccines are thermostable, which eliminates the demand for cold-chain storage and infrastructure, a major challenge in the vaccine supply of most developing countries.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation investment will support in particular the construction of an industrial scale Good Manufacturing Practice production facility.
Vaccines provide cost-effective prevention and protection against serious diseases. Investing in research and innovation for new and better vaccines remains a priority for the European Commission both in supporting global public health, and helping Europe to maintain its lead in vaccine research, development and production. Currently, around two-thirds of vaccine research and development worldwide are carried out by European firms.
From 2007 to 2013, the European Commission invested €223 million in collaborative research projects on vaccines and this investment will continue under Horizon 2020, the EU's funding programme for research and innovation for the period 2014-2020. Up to €46 million are being made available in 2014-15. Likewise, the European Commission is supporting the development and clinical testing of next generation vaccines, medicines and treatments in partnership with Europe's pharmaceutical industry in the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), as well as with 13 European and 13 Sub-Saharan African countries within the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP). IMI recently announced €207.1 million to develop and deploy vaccines against Ebola.
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