Plant Based Vaccine Production

Fully automated, high volume vaccine factory

Fully automated vaccine factory: Robot with plants
© Photo Fraunhofer CMI

Automated Plant-Based Vaccine Production: Robots transport multi-plants trays between stations.

Fully automated vaccine factory: Grippers in Motion
© Photo Fraunhofer CMI

Automated Plant-Based Vaccine Production: Delivery of plants for infiltration with a biological vector.

Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize for Science and Innovation Award in Hannover, Germany, 2013.
© Photo Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft

Award of the Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize for Science and Innovation in Hannover, Germany, 2013.


To produce pharmaceuticals, such as vaccines, in quantities large enough to meet global demand, one feasible approach is to cultivate transgenic and virus-infected plants. Consequently, we sought to develop this process by constructing a fully automated vaccine production facility. In adhering to modular design principles, we envisioned a flexible and easily configurable platform that would revolutionize biopharmaceutical production for a variety of drugs.


In close collaboration with biologists, we completed the engineering and assembly of the first pilot production module with a specific biomass capacity. By adopting a modular approach, the system can be customized for different biopharmaceutical agents, thus increasing its potential application. To reach this capability, many pieces of specialized equipment are required, and all necessary modules must be integrated and constructed. Finally, regulatory approval and certification by the federal government must also be obtained.


Testing and refinement of all components for steps, such as seeding, infiltration, and harvesting

Optimization of nutrient supply, lighting, and temperature for efficient, controlled plant cultivation

Process engineering and technology transfer in compliance with Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) regulations

Joseph von Fraunhofer Prize for Science and Innovation

This 50,000 euro ($66,065) prize is awarded by the Fraunhofer-Society every year since 1978, in recognition of outstanding scientific work leading to the solution of application-oriented problems. Fraunhofer CMI and Fraunhofer CMB received the prize for their work on plant based vaccine production in Hannover, Germany, at a gala attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.