Delivering new and innovative high value products using plan molecular farming

14 partners, 7 countries,
5 SMEs, 3 public research
institutions and 6 universities


Molecular Farming is the manufacture of high-value products using plant biotechnology.

Pharma-Factory is a research project conceived and designed by Molecular Farming companies, to advance medical, veterinary and diagnostic products. Two of these products will be marketed within the lifetime of the project, and all others will reach technological validation.

Pharma-Factory aims to maximize impact by engaging with all stakeholders from scientists to government and the public at large, developing new tools to facilitate communication, to help understand and reduce barriers to acceptance.

We will clarify the wider regulatory environment around Molecular Farming by engaging with relevant agencies regarding issues of generic importance to the field, whilst giving our SMEs an opportunity to more easily seek scientific advice.

14 partners from 7 countries, including 5 SMEs, 3 public research institutions and 6 universities, are taking part in the project.

Pharma-Factory’s overarching objectives are to remove technical, regulatory and public acceptance bottlenecks that currently hinder the transition of Molecular Farming from the laboratory stage towards the market, foster innovation and raise competitiveness of Plant Molecular Farming SMEs, their platforms and/or their products and product pipelines.

Pharma-Factory is funded for 4 years by the European Commission as an Innovation Action under Horizon 2020.

“EU-funded projects have made a fantastic international contribution to making plant-based pharmaceuticals a reality. This is reflected both in scientific excellence and the creation of numerous SMEs. The time is now ripe to realise the benefits of this investment through the commercialisation of plant-based products and it is the primary objective of the current project to achieve this.”
Professor Julian Ma,
Pharma-Factory Co-ordinator

The global market
for bioengineered protein drugs was $172.5 in 2016 and it is expected to reach $228.4 billion
by 2021.

In Pharma-Factory, six different Plant Molecular Farming platforms including whole plants, algae, hairy roots and plant cell culture will be developed by SMEs working alongside academic partners. These developments will lead to shortened production cycles and increased product yields, and ultimately lower product cost to the end-users.

Plant Molecular Farming platforms provide unique opportunities as a result of specific features of the expression systems

The global market for bioengineered protein drugs was $172.5 billion in 2016 and it is expected to reach $228.4 billion by 2021.

View more details about the technology here ︎


There are many groups that are potentially impacted by the products of Molecular Farming. These stakeholder groups may consist of: industry (e.g. pharmaceutical companies and/or healthcare providers); government (legislators, lawmakers, and regulators); producers (e.g. local farmers involved/not involved in local PMFs); end-users (e.g. clinicians, patients).

Advances in GM technology in Europe have struggled with low public acceptance since the commercialisation of GM food two decades ago; importantly, this public reluctance has influenced regulations and limited commercialisation of all GM technologies.
In Pharma-Factory, we will use qualitative methods such as interviews and co-design workshops to determine the nuances and contingencies of positive/negative opinions of plant molecular farming end products and methods of production.

Disclaimer for Public Engagement and Involvement Activities
As part of our work on public engagement and involvement, Pharma Factory researchers may propose speculative and provocative embodiments of the technologies and / or products of Molecular Farming. We do this to better understand which aspects of Molecular Farming might carry the most value for each of our diverse stakeholder groups and elicit discussion for those different groups. Our use of ‘provocations’ should not be seen as advocating the use of Molecular Farming to circumvent or otherwise disregard existing laws and regulations surrounding the production, licensing and sale of medicines or any other products of biological processes. A significant part of the work performed in Pharma Factory is designed to facilitate compliance through early engagement with the relevant regulatory authorities for each product under development and to engage users in these technologies in meaningful ways.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 774078.

Pharma Factory copyright 2018