User samples one of Norgen Biotek’s innovative COVID-19 saliva-based test kits. Photo credit: Twitter/Norgen Biotek Corp.
With COVID-19 tests becoming scanter across Ontario, a local manufacturer has stepped up to the plate and partnered with the province to create several million more PCR test kits.
On Thursday, it was announced that Thorold-based Norgen Biotek will receive $1 million in provincial funding to scale up production of its COVID-19 saliva-based testing kit.
The $1 million supplied by the Ontario Together Fund will supplement a $13 million internal investment set aside by Norgen to support upgrades, modifications, equipment, and production materials.
“Through the Ontario Together Fund, our government is making laser-focused investments in domestic businesses with the ideas and solutions to help us through this pandemic and put us on the road to economic recovery,” said Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Vic Fedeli.
“Norgen Biotek and their COVID-19 saliva-based test kit is another example of Ontario innovation at its very best as homegrown manufacturers continue to enhance our resilience to any challenge while strengthening our economy.”
Unlike swab-based test kits, Norgen Biotek’s saliva-based diagnostic PCR test kit does not require specialized training to use and aligns with the latest diagnostic testing trends.
Expected to create 105 jobs, this latest investment will scale up production of Norgen’s COVID-19 saliva-based diagnostic kits, including the component saliva collection and preservative devices, ribonucleic acid (RNA) isolation/purification kits, and viral detection kits.
Forecasted production capacity upon project completion is 100,000 diagnostic kits per day.
“I want to thank the Ontario government under the leadership of Doug Ford and Minister Fedeli for coming up with the Ontario Together Fund. It is very timely, indeed,” said president and CEO of Norgen Biotek Yousef Haj-Ahmad.
“This program has, without a doubt, helped Norgen Biotek and many other Ontario companies overcome the challenges faced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This program encouraged Norgen to undertake a broad facility expansion, a scaling up of operations, and creating new jobs to meet the demand for Norgen’s products during the pandemic.”
Since its launch in April 2020, the Ontario Together Fund has helped businesses with innovative ideas and solutions to retool or adapt their operations to produce supplies and equipment for the health care sector and frontline workers.
“Companies like Norgen Biotek have stepped up to the plate during the pandemic, showing the Ontario Spirit by scaling up production of COVID-19 saliva-based test kits,” said MPP for Niagara West Sam Oosterhoff.
“I am grateful for the visionary leadership of Dr. Yousef Haj-Ahmad and his innovative team at Norgen Biotek, and I am pleased to see this significant Niagara investment from the Ontario Together Fund. This provincial funding will support the fight against COVID-19 and bring new highly skilled jobs to Thorold.”
Established in 1998, Norgen Biotek is a biotechnology company focused on developing products for sample collection, sample preparation and sample detection, as well as providing comprehensive research services to the scientific community at its 24,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art Thorold facility.