Laying a Foundation in Switzerland

Protinus project to expand production of products to supply 90,000 patients.

Construction underway of Protinus project

In Switzerland, CSL Behring has found a way to grow in both town and country.

Right in town, within CSL Behring’s existing Bern facility, an expansion valued at 250 million Swiss francs ($257 million) has sprung up. It wasn’t easy to find space to grow inside the company’s compact location in Bern, a much-Instagrammed city in the heart of Switzerland that’s also a United Nations World Heritage site.

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But Swiss ingenuity made a path for the project called “Protinus.” Where is the construction site intended to increase production of immunoglobulin products to serve an additional 90,000 patients? It’s a “construction masterpiece” tucked deep inside the Bern campus, nearly surrounded by existing buildings. Though it has a postage-stamp footprint, the site required a sky-high crane and an excavation pit that goes 17 meters (about 56 feet) deep.

The immunoglobulin products produced in Bern treat a variety of illnesses, including immunodeficiency diseases and the neurological condition, chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP).

Plaque celebrating Protinus project

CSL Behring’s Bern team celebrated the laying of a foundation stone Sept. 10, joined by Federal Councilor of Switzerland Johann Schneider-Ammann and Bern State Councilor Christoph Ammann.

To mark the monumental project, a time capsule was concreted in the excavation filled with construction documents, an empty package of the medicine made there and symbolic gifts, including a bear figurine to represent Bern.  

The officials stressed the project’s role in establishing Bern as a center of biotechnology excellence, contributing to the region’s economic strength by supporting local suppliers and generating new jobs. Fittingly, “Protinus,” a Latin word, means “immediately, forward, ahead.”

Fresh from delivering strong full-year results, CSL Limited CEO Paul Perreault and members of the Board also attended the milestone ceremony in Bern. Perreault credited Bern employees and the construction team for knowing how to “magically create more space where there appears no space to be had.” People are the company’s greatest asset, enabling CSL Behring to keep its promise to patients, Perreault said.

“You take pride in your work and you know in your hearts that at the end of every project milestone is a patient who is relying on us,” he said.

Meanwhile, 30 minutes outside of Bern, a second expansion project is underway in very different terrain. In Lengnau, along a green hillside, a new manufacturing plant for CSL Behring products is also being built.