SwiftPharma, a leading innovator in the research & development of recombinant proteins derived from a proprietary plant-based production system, and ONO Exponential Farming, an Italian game-changing agtech company specialized in the ideation, production, and sale of automated modular vertical farming systems, announced an exclusive strategic alliance to develop the world’s first and genuinely sustainable biomanufacturing platform for the ultra-low-cost production of proteins and bioactive ingredients at unprecedented speed and scalability.

SwiftPharma is establishing Europe’s first commercial-scale cGMP manufacturing facility in which Nicotiana benthamiana plants are grown in a highly automated vertical system under human control, helped by increasingly refined AI algorithms and a worldwide distributed ecosystem to rapidly deliver high-quality and ultra-low-cost proteins such as monoclonal antibodies, vaccines, enzymes, growth factors, and others.

“In contrast, most of the competitors that use plant-based expression systems grow their plants in greenhouses, creating batch-to-batch inconsistency,” Jeroen HOFENK, SwiftPharma’s founder and Chief Science Officer, said. “Before we joined forces with ONO Exponential Farming, we’ve diligently reviewed about a dozen other vertical farming technologies, yet none of them could offer the complete turn-key solution we had in mind for our facility, except ONO”, HOFENK continues.

“ONO cultivation modules are composed of robotic technology driven by artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms. Our system is completely integrated, resembling not so much a home automation system as a true robotic platform. ONO’s level of automation is 100%. There is no room for human error. Our technology has already demonstrated the ability to standardize production processes and refine growth protocols to individual user needs. Adopting ONO in Molecular Farming guarantees unprecedented results and development capabilities”, Thomas AMBROSI, ONO’s founder and CEO, added.

“Vertical Farming is a relatively young industry with a fragmented competitive framework, which features vertical growers and providers of vertical farming technological systems. The vertical farming tech providers currently on the marketplace only offer part of the vertical farming system. Almost none of them can supply their customers with a complete integrated solution. ONO fills that gap and goes beyond”, HOFENK agrees.

“Perhaps the most unique aspect of SwiftPharma’s approach to truly sustainable biomanufacturing is the way they turn their entire waste stream into a value stream to reach a net-zero footprint while at the same time improving the process economics of their production process. I’ve realized that humanity can no longer be satisfied with only improving returns. The driving motivation must be different and more holistic: to create while preserving the future, safeguard coming generations, and not have to ask our children for forgiveness. To me, SwiftPharma embodies this vision in every sense as well”, AMBROSI concludes.

“Indeed, plants offer a massive window of opportunity for further process integration to harvest additional products that can contribute to overall process profitability. For example, when plants manufacture recombinant proteins, only the product is utilized, which often accounts for less than ten percent of the total protein content. Finding applications for the remaining ninety percent could thus improve process economics. By incorporating these side streams through rational process integration, we found that more than double the revenue could be achieved compared to our competitors. Nothing goes to waste, and everyone gains”, HOFENK adds.

“We’re excited to collaborate with ONO and leverage our respective capabilities to develop next-generation sustainable solutions using a broad spectrum of modalities in various industries. This alliance is only the beginning, and we welcome other innovators within the field of plant molecular farming to collaborate, share knowledge, and steer innovation together globally. SwiftPharma and ONO Exponential Farming share the collective vision to be at the forefront of innovation by turning science into real value for nature and people. We believe in making Europe’s biomanufacturing capabilities more resilient and making our solutions accessible to every human being because sustainable healthcare must be recognized as a right, not a privilege. And that also includes even the less fortunate.” HOFENK finishes.