By Lina Saigol, Callum Keown
When BioNTech made its stock-market debut on the Nasdaq last October, the German biotechnology company was valued at just under $3.4 billion.
Just over a year later, BioNTech is now worth more than $29 billion, as the Mainz, Germany–based company’s COVID-19 vaccine has been at the forefront of the global fight against the virus.
Its vaccine candidate, developed in partnership with U.S. drug manufacturer Pfizer /zigman2/quotes/202877789/composite PFE -2.33% , was granted emergency-use authorization in the U.K. on Wednesday, the first country to permit its use. The rollout is set to begin next week, with people over the age of 80, care-home residents and staff and health workers given priority .
The vaccine has been shown to have an efficacy rate of 95% in people over 65 years in a Phase 3 trial, with no major safety concerns.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is set to meet on Dec. 10 to decide whether to approve the vaccine, while European Union regulators will meet on Dec. 29.
Here are five things you need to know about BioNTech:
A husband-and-wife team
BioNTech was co-founded in 2008 by Uğur Şahin, chief executive of the company, and his wife Özlem Türeci, a fellow board member, along with Austrian cancer expert Christoph Huber.
Şahin, 55, and Türeci, 53, are both scientists and the children of Turkish immigrants to Germany. Şahin’s father worked in a Ford factory in Cologne.
In 2001, the pair founded Ganymed Pharmaceuticals, a spinoff from the University of Mainz in Germany and the University of Zurich in Switzerland that focused on developing a new class of cancer drugs called ideal monoclonal antibodies.
Investors in Ganymed included German investment fund MIG Fonds as the family office of twins Thomas and Andreas Strüngmann , who now hold a large stake in BioNTech. The brothers have long been big investors in biotech, having sold their generic-drug company Hexal to Swiss drug maker Novartis /zigman2/quotes/203243705/composite NVS -1.32% for around $7 billion in 2005.
In 2016, Ganymed was sold to Japanese pharmaceutical company Astellas Pharma for $1.4 billion.
BioNTech raised $150 million in its U.S. initial public offering on the Nasdaq on Oct. 9, 2019, after it sold fewer shares and at a lower price than originally planned, giving the company a market valuation of $3.4 billion.