François Fornieri, founder and CEO of Mithra Pharmaceuticals and former manager of the year in 2011(Trends-Tendances), recently announced he will be making an important €40-50 million long-term investment in Liège that is expected to create 160 Jobs in the region. Mithra RDP (Research, Development, Production) in addition to the 43 personnel currently employed with the company is expecting to generate positions of all levels: from production worker to pharmaceutical engineer to lab specialist.
Situated on a 3-hectare site in close proximity to the Bierset airport, the Liège factory and laboratory will be financed by Fornieri’s own personal investment; institutional investors SRIW and Meusinvest; financial institutions; and a few local families who have shown their continued support of Mithra. Half of the funding required will go towards a new department specializing in molecular chemistry. The plan is to build a factory comprising 4 production lines as well as a research & development lab in Flémalle that, once in full operation, hopes to repatriate production that is currently subcontracted in Germany, France and Spain.
In addition to its research center for the production of contraceptive pills, the new factory intends to focus on the treatment of cancer and research involving plant-based molecular chemistry by using soya, colza and corn plants to extract hormones necessary for the composition of its products. However, Fornieri realizes in order for this to happen there is an obvious need for farmlands, hence the thought of also creating an investment fund dedicated to the purchase of the farmland needed. Not surprisingly, the corn could be produced right here in Belgium! In fact, the idea is to develop such crops in Belgium and other countries: Spain for the soya, France for the colza, and Belgium for the corn. An added value being that the unused elements extracted from these plants could be resold for other uses.
How did this project come about?
Following the resale of Uteron-pharma to American based company Watson, Fornieri felt this project was an essential move since the spin-off was no longer in possession of a research center. Nevertheless, the sale to Watson was made under conditions that were in the best interest of everybody: historic investors of course, but also the University of Liège (ULg) and Giga because Watson by contract, has agreed to use the Liège factory as a world research center for women’s health. Better yet, Fornieri believes Watson could be willing to subcontract with Mithra what is presently being manufactured elsewhere. Discussions regarding this potential collaboration are soon expected to take place between Mithra and Watson with the support of Wallonia’s Minister of Economy and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Claude Marcourt. Furthermore, Mithra intends to put to good use its relationship with Watson (30 factories worldwide) by simultaneously launching Mithra products in several new countries.
What’s in the foreseeable future for the development of this Liège project?
If all goes as planned with licenses delivered in a diligent fashion, the Liège factory will begin its activities starting next year with a fully operational lab by 2016 and expects a balance of accounts as early as 2018.
No doubt, the tremendous endeavors and continued growth of this Liège-based company will be making the most of this “Land of Opportunity” and will provide great stories for the future, both regionally and internationally.
What is Mithra up to so far?Currently the company is maintaining distribution agreements of its products in Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam as well as future university partnerships. There are 12 on-going research projects of which are already in phase 2 and Fornieri is not ready to stop there. Fornieri firmly believes that in the pharmaceutical sector, there must be a new project each year and with this in mind, has launched Mithra International Business Development, in which his team will be actively involved in the creation of subsidiaries and university partnerships worldwide. Stretching beyond the recent buyout of a small company in Holland, Mithra to date, has 7 operational subsidiaries in neighboring Luxembourg, Germany, and France as well as overseas in Chile, Brazil, and Malaysia as a portal into Southeast Asia.