Root Cause

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the power of RNA vaccines. Yet, as a lab-based technology, manufacturing scaleup remains a struggle. The way RNA is synthesized has indeed not significantly advanced since its discovery. Until now, there has not been a simple, scalable and cost-efficient way to produce RNA-based drugs.

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Using our engineering skills applied to synthetic biology, instead of microbiology, we identified the challenge coming and rapidly conceptualized and prototyped a new RNA production system, officially launching a business dedicated to this endeavor in June 2021.

This built on the classical Univercells approach – low cost, low footprint, unencumbered use – while also working on addressing additional challenges linked to the production of mRNA vaccines and therapeutics such as cost of reagents, formulation and RNA chemistry. That’s why in parallel to our RNA production system we also offer end-to-end services to support our partners in their journey of mRNA production.


Since 2022, we have a working production system, with a vision to empowering customers all over the world to harness the power of RNA in ways that they see fit. Major benefits of this technology include reduced costs thanks to minimal labor & RNA expertise required, single small footprint system integrating all process steps instead of investing in a suite of equipment as well as no need for scale-up given technology allows to manufacture all stages of the product development.

Case Study Impact

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation supported us in 2016 for our polio platform. In 2021 we incubated our RNA initiative, launching a company dedicated to using our engineering approach to solve the challenge of RNA access. By the end of 2021, we were 70 people, and so glad to welcome the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation again as our partner.

— Jose Castillo, Univercells co-founder and Quantoom Biosciences CEO.