With a Delaware site code-named 'Project Dragonfly,' WuXi's STA plans to add 1,200 jobs in US expansion: reports

WuXi AppTec
WuXi AppTech is building a massive CDMO empire and hopes to expand it with a huge site in Delaware. The company is asking the state to invest $19 million in the facility which would eventually employ 1,200. (WuXi-AppTec)

It might sound like a code name in a spy movie spoof, but “Project Dragonfly” is in fact what STA Pharmaceutical has been calling its plan to build a massive manufacturing site in Delaware, according to reports.

Even with a sly handle, keeping a facility that would house 1,200 employees on the down low isn’t easy. The proposed site is on 187 acres in a zoned industrial area in Middletown, 30 miles south of Wilmington, the Delaware Business Times reports.

To help make it happen, STA is asking for a $19 million grant from the state’s investment board. It would be the state’s largest taxpayer-funded investment in a decade, approximating the award to hybrid carmaker Fisker Automotive, which later filed for bankruptcy, Delaware Business Now reports. WuXi representatives didn't respond to a Fierce Pharma request for comment.

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Earlier this month, the town council of Middletown gave STA’s plan its preliminary approval, according to the Business Times. The next step comes on June 28 when the company faces the state Council on Development Finance. The meeting agenda shows that STA is seeking just over $19 million to "establish a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility" in Middletown.

While the $19 million is a big ask, it matches the CDMO ambitions of STA and its parent company, WuXi AppTec of China. STA is focused on the development and manufacture of small molecule drugs, which are used worldwide to treat a variety of diseases.

The Delaware location would be STA’s second site in America, joining another smaller site in San Diego. In February, STA made a move into Europe with the purchase of a Bristol Myers Squibb manufacturing plant in Switzerland. WuXi has four factories in China.

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Also under the WuXi umbrella is WuXi Biologics, which has been in operation for only six years but has made a giant leap into the CDMO arena, garnering three plants each in Europe and the U.S.

Additionally, WuXi has set up yet another CDMO subsidiary. Newly established WuXi XDC will focus on manufacturing bioconjugates, including antibody-drug conjugates.