Feb 22, 2021

Mitigating Risk; Medicago’s Plant-based vaccine technology

Laura V. Garcia
2 min
plant-based vaccine technology
Medicago’s plant-based vaccine technology is helping Canada mitigate its risks with domestic manufacturing of vaccines...

As we said in Canada’s vaccine strategy; a lesson in poor risk management, Canada was once a global leader in vaccine development with domestic manufacturing capabilities. Today, however, the country struggles to import vaccines, lagging behind on its vaccine rollout. And is the only member of the G7 to both contribute and withdraw from COVAX, a fund working towards equitable global distribution of the vaccine.

So, how did it get here?

"We've let it slide," said Bernstein, president and CEO of CIFAR, a Canadian-based global research organization. "It's like PPE. It's been just as easy, if I can put it that way, to buy vaccines offshore."

"The problem has been that governments are driven by short-term needs ... and, in the absence of COVID-19, there was no obvious, immediate need to have a national vaccine facility. We were getting all the vaccines we needed; everything was fine. Now, we know there's a problem.

"And I think, 'shame on us,' if we don't fix it right away."

Infectious disease expert and a former member of the H1N1 vaccine task group in Canada, Earl Brown, says Canada took it's "eye off the ball." After the H1N1 pandemic, a review found that vaccine production capacity was at the top of the list of problems.

"The problem was they had a poor business model," said Brown. "These were vaccine companies spun off from universities, so there was indirect funding, and they had a model of not making so much profit."

But during a global pandemic, outsourcing vaccines offshore is a high-risk venture. Domestic production is critical to saving lives. 


With hundreds of millions of dollars in new federal funding and spurred by the increased pressures for the vaccine, several teams are now building the infrastructure Canada needs to produce vaccines domestically. Among the largest is Quebec-based biopharmaceutical company Medicago.

Experienced in developing rapid responses to emerging viruses, Medicago received $173 million in federal funding for its Covid-19 vaccine research and to establish a manufacturing facility in Quebec City. Medicago's senior director, Nathalie Charland, said its aim is "to first develop new technologies to react rapidly, but also to be able to protect our own citizens."

If things go well, through facilities in both Canada in the U.S, Medicago hopes to be able to produce 80 million doses by the end of 2021 of its plant-based Covid-19 vaccine candidate. The company expects manufacturing every process end-to-end under its roof in Quebec will take until 2023.

"We hope to be able to produce anywhere between 500 million and 1 billion doses per year," Charland said. That's enough to cover Canada's population of 37 million, and then some.

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Jun 17, 2021

Canoo Awards Manufacturing Contract to VDL Nedcar

2 min
Canoo, a trailblazing company in the electric vehicle (EVs) manufacturing industry, has officially announced owned and contract manufacturing plans

Canoo, a trailblazing company in the electric vehicle (EVs) manufacturing industry, has officially announced owned and contract manufacturing plans that will ensure the company manages to deliver on its promise to consumers of production and delivery of vehicles in Q4, 2022. 


During the company’s first Investor Relations Day, Chairman & CEO of Canoo, Tony Aquila, named VDL Nedcar as its contract manufacturing partner. VDL Nedcar, which I’m sure many of you will already have heard of, is the only independent Vehicle Contract Manufacturer in the Netherlands and has enjoyed fifty years of growth under owners, including Mitsubishi Motors and Volvo cars. According to the report, Nedcar will manufacture the Lifestyle Vehicle for the United States and European Union markets, while Canoo builds a US-based mega micro-factory. 



"We conducted an exhaustive search, invested significant amounts of time and resources that span the globe, in our search for our Phase 1 contract manufacturer. VDL Nedcar is the right partner," said Tony Aquila, Investor, Chairman and CEO of Canoo, Inc. "They are the top trusted European manufacturer building high-quality products for leading OEMs, and they significantly outcompeted the other contenders. VDL is also independently owned by the van der Leegte family of entrepreneurs - which aligns with our commitment to support businesses that form the backbone of communities. This strategic partnership will enable us to deliver vehicles to market while we build our Phase 2 factory in Oklahoma. It also strongly positions us for geographic expansion in Europe and builds a lasting relationship with VDL Groep of companies. Our investment will help us scale quickly and fulfil our mission to bring affordable, purpose-built EVs to Everyone."


Canoo and VDL have already gotten to work on vehicle manufacturability and production planning so that Canoo can successfully lay the groundwork for its upcoming US manufacturing operations expansion, which will be completed in Oklahoma in 2022. The Nedcar facility currently expected to produce around 1000 units for both the US and European markets in 2022, with an additional 15000 targeted for the following year. 


"Canoo's bold approach to designing and building electric vehicles makes them an ideal partner as we work together to shape the future of mobility," said John van Soerland, CEO of VDL Nedcar. "This partnership advances our strategic vision to provide a contract manufacturing solution and expand our expertise in the EV arena."

Currently, Canoo is entering its GAMMA phase of development and is on track to start production soon. The company intends and expects to launch its Lifestyle Vehicle in Q4 2022, closely followed by the Multi-Purpose Delivery Vehicle and Pickup Truck.

Watch this space.

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