Walloon Government launches innovation partnership with €81 million budget over three years, dedicated to ATMPs, in collaboration with BioWin and the Public service of Wallonia

Suarlée, Namur, Belgium, January 17, 2024 – In late 2023, the Walloon Government approved funding for an unprecedented Technological Innovation Partnership – ATMP-Partenariat d’Innovation Technologique (ATMP-PIT) proposal – for Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products (ATMPs). Minister of Economy and Vice-President of Wallonia Willy Borsus instigated the initiative under the Walloon Recovery Plan. It is part of a co-construction process involving all stakeholders in the sector, led by BioWin, the health cluster of Wallonia, and the Research and Technology Development Department of the Public service of Wallonia for the Economy, Employment and Research. The project involves 26 partners and has a budget of €81 million ($88.9M). Around 60% of this comes from public funds, with 40% being privately funded. Almost €23 million ($25.3M) was already allocated in 2023.

ATMPs are the next-generation biomedicines designed to address unmet medical needs. They are among the most innovative and promising developments in modern medicine. The PIT encompasses various aspects of these novel approaches, including cell, gene, exosome and phage therapies. The emphasis is on the suitability of planned developments for large-scale manufacture, with the effect of boosting Walloon businesses’ own technologies, processes and products.

The ATMP PIT is intended to provide a major stimulus to Wallonia’s advanced therapy medicines sector, by establishing new partnerships between academia (including teaching hospitals), a research center and businesses of every size. These various work packages cover all the links in the ATMP value chain and address particular areas of scientific research with high development potential, various aspects of preclinical and clinical research, and innovative approaches to production process design and control. The project will bring with it a substantial increase in the number of researchers and technicians working in this sector. Estimates predict that more than 470 direct jobs and 1,200 indirect jobs will be created over the next five years.

An ambitious project like this will help to embed talent and knowledge in our region,” said Willy Borsus, Minister of Economy and Vice-President of the Walloon Government. “It will be a huge boost to the region’s attractiveness. The ATMP PIT provides a unique opportunity to grow and develop an important sector for the future of Wallonia.

This partnership will help us to ensure Wallonia will retain its position as a leader in the sector, by strengthening the ecosystem and giving it the tools and resources to stay at the forefront of innovation,” said Sylvie Ponchaut, Managing Director of BioWin.

Although Belgium makes up just 2.6% of the EU’s population, it accounts for 7.8% of jobs, 18.7% of exports and 19.3% of investment in research and development in the EU’s biopharmaceuticals industry, ranking it third, second and first in Europe in these respective areas. (Source: pharma.be)

The ATMP market expects to see a compound annual growth rate of more than 36% between 2019 and 2025. The market value is projected to reach €10 billion ($11bn) by 2025 and €80 billion ($88bn) by 2032.

Participation of our Members:

CER Groupe

Areas of activity |Bioproduction; non-clinical services

CER Groupe is involved in 2 projects; in the SOLIT project together with Novadip and the Hybrid-Tx project with Univercells and ULiège.

The aim of SOLIT project is the development of a flexible technology “Matrisome” platform to generate unique, allogeneic, and “ready to use” therapeutics which will target solid tumours through the local delivery of highly specific biomolecules with tumour suppressive properties. This project will consolidate the business models of the CER and Novadip through the development of (i) a complete platform of preclinical testing and (ii) a commercial, large-scale adipose stem cell manufacturing for allogenic cell-derived Matrisome products as a new therapeutic class of anti-cancer drugs for the IT delivery.

For the Hybrid-Tx project, CER will deliver innovative preclinical models of ATMP biodistribution and immunopeptidomics characterization capacity.


Areas of activity | Vaccination development; Cancer treatment solution

Univercells is involved in the Hybrid-Tx project, aiming at the development of a hybrid approach comprising a recombinant viral vector (Newcastle Disease Vector, NDV) and an mRNA vector for the development of a) a vaccination solution and b) a personalised cancer treatment solution. In the context of a regional ATMP Hub based in Belgium (Jumet), Univercells’ objective would be to offer the fastest, safest, and most cost-effective solutions across the entire value chain for the manufacture of new hybrid approaches to vaccination and new anti-cancer therapies, from discovery through to clinical and commercial phases. This project proposes an innovative approach to achieving this, combining cutting-edge innovation, first published preclinical and clinical proofs of concept, and a vision of manufacturing from the smallest to the largest scale, meeting the needs of personalised medicine for high-precision cancer treatment, and mass production of prophylactic vaccines.

PDC*line Pharma

Areas of activity | Personalised cancer immunotherapy targeting individual neoantigens and molecular diagnostic based on circulating tumour DNA

The PDC*neo+ project aims to develop PDC*neo+, a personalised therapeutic vaccine for colorectal cancer (CRC), using PDC*LINE PHARMA’s innovative PDC*line technology. Targeting unique neoantigens in each CRC patient, PDC*neo+ represents a groundbreaking approach in cancer immunotherapy. CRC is among the most prevalent and deadly cancers globally, with a high recurrence rate post-surgery and chemotherapy. PDC*neo+ is designed as an adjuvant treatment to prevent relapses in high-risk patients with stages II, III, and certain stage IV CRC. This aligns with chemotherapy, potentially making it a pioneering treatment in CRC. This project is a collaborative effort involving several key partners. OncoDNA contributes with its expertise in personalised medicine, focusing on neoantigen identification and circulating tumour DNA analysis. SalamanderU is developing a compact isolator for decentralised vaccine production. Academic centers UCLouvain – IREC/MIRO and ULB-BCTL offer vital support in translational research and clinical trial execution. The main goal is to confirm the clinical feasibility and safety of PDC*neo+ in a Phase I trial. This initiative is expected to have a significant impact on CRC patient care, alongside broader economic and societal benefits.

Press Release PDC*line Pharma: https://www.pdc-line-pharma.com/news/pdcline-pharma-and-partners-receive-eu81m-walloon-region-and-wallonia-health-cluster-biowin