Fujifilm's multibillion-dollar expansion spree rolls on with $850M capacity boost in U.S., U.K.

COVID-19 vaccine
Fujifilm says the expansion will double cell culture production for recombinant vaccines in the U.S. (solarseven/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus)

Fujifilm’s contract manufacturing ambitions are swelling—again—to the tune of $850 million. The cash infusion is just the latest in a multibillion-dollar spending spree for the manufacturer.

Angling to grow capacity for biologics such as gene therapies and vaccines—including those for COVID-19—the company will plug 90 billion Japanese yen (around $850 million) into its CDMO arm Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies.

Fujifilm will divvy the funds between its operations in the U.K. and the U.S., where the company’s Texas and North Carolina plants are helping manufacture Novavax’s late-stage pandemic vaccine, NVX-CoV2373.

The company isn't divulging the location of its U.S. investment for now, a company spokeswoman said over email. The U.S. outlay "is mainly aimed at significantly enhancing the bulk drug substance production capacity of biopharmaceuticals such as COVID-19 vaccines and advanced therapies," she said. 

Stateside, Fujifilm says the expansion will double its cell culture capacity for recombinant vaccines. Last July, the company committed its facility in Morrisville, North Carolina, to crank out bulk drug substance for Novavax’s shot. That same month, Fujifilm also devoted its factory in College Station, Texas, to the cause.

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After the U.S. reserved production space at the College Station plant, Fuji hastened a planned capacity expansion and doubled its head count there by about 260, the company said in January.

Across the pond at Fujifilm’s U.K. operations in Teesside, the company expects gene therapy production to increase “ten-fold" with the latest spending commitment. Cell culture capacity will triple, and microbial fermentation output at the 5,000-liter-scale site will double, the company said. The British cell culture expansion will also establish capacity for continuous manufacturing.

Fujifilm says it will “strategically” add process and analytical development capacity in the first tranche of its investment package. The expansions are set to come online by late 2023.

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Counting the latest investment, Fujifilm has sketched out nearly $3 billion in manufacturing expansions since January, primarily in the U.S. At the start of the year, the company blueprinted its third viral vector factory, which it will stand up in Watertown, Massachusetts, courtesy of a $40 million investment.

Less than two weeks later, Fujifilm laid plans for a separate manufacturing and innovation center there that will also focus on viral vectors and cell products. Together with the Massachusetts Center for Advanced Biological Innovation and Manufacturing, Fujifilm has ginned up around $76 million in funding for the plant, it said at the time. 

The company's loftiest factory by far, however, is a $2 billion cell culture production site it's building in Holly Springs, North Carolina. The site will come equipped with eight 20,000-liter bioreactors, with room to add another 24 down the line. Fujifilm plans to use the site for drug substance production and fill-finish duties, plus packaging and labeling. 

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional comments from Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies.