AGC plots $194.5M, capacity-doubling upgrade to Copenhagen biologics site

AGC Biologics has had a busy year, inking COVID-19 production deals with the likes of Novavax, Saiba and Molecular Partners—all while plowing ahead on a global expansion effort.

Now, the contract development and manufacturing operation is laying out lofty goals for its Copenhagen site a little less than two months after tapping a new general manager to oversee the facility.

AGC plans to invest €160 million ($194.5 million) to boost operations at the biologics facility, adding a new building on adjacent land. By 2023, the upgrade is expected to more than double AGC’s single-use bioreactor capacity for mammalian cell-culture drugs, thanks to two new 2,000-liter bioreactors.

When all is said and done, the site will have capacity for more than 125 2,000-liter batches per year, Mark Womack, chief business officer at AGC, said via email.

The new 2,000-liter bioreactors join six currently housed at the facility, alongside three 500-liter mammalian bioreactors and two 1,500-liter microbial bioreactors, he said.

The new building, set to grow the site's footprint by some 19,000 square meters (about 204,500 square feet), also features two independent downstream lines and will include a warehouse, office, storage space and testing capabilities, Womack said. The upgrades will boost staffing there "significantly," Womack said.

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A new general manager will be running the Copenhagen expansion, thanks to a management change-up AGC recently announced. Andrea Porchia, a seven-year vet at the CDMO, moved into that slot when previous site chief Jeffery Mowery stepped up to senior vice president of U.S. operations at AGC's Seattle headquarters.

The Copenhagen expansion follows a series of other capacity-boosting moves.

In June, AGC snapped up a former AstraZeneca commercial manufacturing facility in Boulder, Colorado. The site houses two 20,000-liter bioreactors and space for up to four more, the company said in a release.

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AGC also recently completed improvements at its site in Heidelberg, Germany, scaling up its plasmid DNA capacity, and in June announced another expansion to bolster output in the same area.

Amid the global manufacturing overhaul, AGC has inked a slate of COVID-19 deals. The company signed up to help Novavax produce the Matrix-M adjuvant for its vaccine hopeful, and it's also helping manufacture Swiss drugmaker Saiba's viruslike particle shot. And, in early July, AGC hooked up with Molecular Partners to help develop a new class of potential treatments for the disease.

The company currently employs more than 1,600 staffers worldwide, boasting development and manufacturing services for biologic drugs, viral vectors and more across facilities in the U.S., Denmark, Germany, Italy and Japan.