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OPERON WILL MULTIPLY ITS AREA BY FIVE WITH A NEW 20,000 m² PLANT IN PLAZA

The Aragonese biotechnology company OPERON, specialized in the development of in vitro diagnostic tests, has decided to transfer its production plant from Cuarte de Huerva to a new area in Zaragoza PLAZA logistics platform. This step aims to provide more space for equipment to optimize the production and increase its lines of business. The new plot located in PLAZA is 17,800 m2, but it is planned to build up to 21,360 m2 above ground. This will multiply by five the current surface of the company’s factory in Cuarte de Huerva, which is 3,500 m2 (4,000 m2 built). Its opening is scheduled for 2023, when the company will be celebrating its 50th anniversary.

The expansion will also entail a growth of the workforce by 20%. The managing director of OPERON, Tomás Toribio, explains that “our goal is to create new jobs focused on the biochemical profile, both researchers and laboratory assistants, and production plant personnel. The new facilities will allow us to advance in technologies and projects related to the development of new biosensors. At the same time, we will also increase the manufacturing of new tests for patient Points of Care, an increasingly established trend in health”.

The works will be undertaken in several phases. In the first of them, it is planned to erect 9,000 m2 distributed in two buildings, doubling the capacity of the current facilities. The first building will have a garage, production rooms, dining rooms and changing rooms, offices, meeting rooms and laboratories divided in several floors. The second one will be used for the production and storage areas.

As Toribio emphasizes, “biotechnology is constantly evolving. At OPERON, we have the potential to develop our diagnostic test offer, such as our rapid antigen detection test and RT-PCR offer for the molecular detection of infection, derived from the COVID-19 pandemic. These new facilities will allow us to advance in this goal with the proper material resources and with modern, efficient, and sustainable spaces. Rapid tests and lateral flow tests have more applications day by day, both in the field of human health and the veterinarian or food industry”.

Digitization is constant in OPERON’s processes: “We incorporated tools from the industry 4.0 since the very beginning and we keep on evolving with it. Right now, we are implementing programs to improve the study of data which allow us to correct trends through AI algorithms”, says the managing director.

Pioneers in Spain and present in more than 50 countries

OPERON was founded in 1973. Its personnel are composed by 82 employees, 85% of which are women. They have been pioneers in Spain: in 1986 they became the first company to start the research and production of monoclonal antibodies, and in the 1990s they led the development, manufacturing, and sale of immunochromatography tests. After betting on this line of work, in 1992 Simple hCG was launched on the market: its first immunochromatography test, a pregnancy test. 

At the beginning of 2004, it was also one of the first Spanish companies to develop, manufacture and sell tests based on molecular diagnostic techniques. The first product of this type was ThromboStrip, based on the genotyping of mutations associated with the risk of venous thrombosis. Since then, its catalogue of molecular diagnostic products has been growing.

Currently, it has distributors with the OPERON brand in more than 50 countries and exports represent around 90% of the turnover, which will amount to approximately 9 million euros in 2021. Innovation, professionalism, sustainability, and continuous improvement guide the efforts of the company from the beginning of its activity. Its differential factor lies in the fact that they own the entire value chain, not needing to go outside of their facilities. Based on this idea, they prepare the raw materials in their fermenters and bioreactors, conduct the development and manufacturing of the product until it reaches the certified standards of the market.

Today they seek the highest levels of quality in their main lines of business: raw materials (monoclonal antibodies and recombinant antigens), immunochromatography (rapid lateral flow tests), molecular diagnostic tests (Opegen and RT-PCR products) and personalized services, such as contract manufacturing of tests and raw materials.

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