Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion
Jerusalem Mayor Moshe LionIdo Ben Porat/Israel National News

Speaking at a Mind The Tech conference held in London on Tuesday, Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion revealed that the German company BioNTech, best known for its partnership with pharmaceutical company Pfizer in manufacturing a COVID vaccine, intends to open a factory in Jerusalem where mRNA vaccines will be developed and produced.

"I want to begin by sharing with you some exciting news which has great economic significance," Mayor Lion told the conference. "The entire world faced the coronavirus pandemic which took so many of our loved ones and impacted all our lives. It damaged our health and caused great harm to our economies. One of the miracles that led us out of this dark time was the work of BioNTech, a German company which developed the mRNA-based vaccine for Pfizer. I can now share with you that from here, I will be traveling to Germany to visit the company's headquarters, because we have just signed an agreement with the Israeli government and BioNTech to build and establish a development, research, and production center for mRNA-based vaccines in Jerusalem."

Lion added that the project is a collaborative effort with the Hebrew University and Hadassah Hospital, and that it is a "huge vote of confidence in Jerusalem's economy and eco-system, and also a huge boost to Jerusalem's economy. This will bring hundreds of jobs to the city, and we also hope that these vaccines will advance bold treatment of cancer and future epidemics."

The mayor stressed that the benefits he predicts for Israel's capital are for "both east and west of the city, Jews and Arabs, religious and secular. We are promoting mega-projects in innovation and hi-tech. One of these projects is the new business district near the entrance to the city, with a floor space of 1.2 million square meters.

"Another project is the Hebrew University hi-tech and innovation center, a huge complex of 270,000 square meters. We intend to build a warm and welcoming environment for hi-tech and biotechnology companies, in partnership with our academic institutions. Another project I would like to note is a plan to build a huge complex 200,000 square meters in size, which will include space for hi-tech, commerce, hotels, and restaurants, in the east of the city.

"My efforts are directed toward two goals," Lion added. "One is expanding Jerusalem's hi-tech industry, and the other is integrating the city's entire population."

In early March of this year, BioNTech announced in a press release that it had signed a memorandum of understanding with the Israeli Weizmann Institute, and that it would be engaging in collaborative research at its newly-opened mRNA Excellence Center and in Weizmann Institute laboratories.

"Scientists from a variety of disciplines from BioNTech and the Weizmann Institute will collaborate in basic and applied research with the aim to better understand various diseases, including cancer, infectious diseases, and neurodegenerative diseases," the company stated.

The Excellence Center is located in Nes Ziona in central Israel, in the Weizmann Science Park, and is expected to launch operations in late 2023.