Fujifilm takes its CDMO power play to the Tarheel State with plans for $2B plant

Holly Springs, North Carolina, is where Fujifilm will take its ambitious leap into large-scale cell culture manufacturing.

In an emerging biotech hub 20 miles southwest of Raleigh, Fujifilm will build the largest cell culture biopharmaceutical CDMO facility in North America, the company said Thursday.

The Tokyo-based firm will invest more than $2 billion in the project, projecting it will be operational by the spring of 2025. The company expects to employ 725 people there by the end of 2028.  

The site will feature eight 20,000-liter bioreactors and room to expand to 24 bioreactors depending on demand. Fujfilm plans for the site to handle substance manufacturing, fill-finish duties plus packaging and labeling.

“What we’re trying to do as a contract development and manufacturing organization is to offer that end-to-end capability,” Martin Meeson, CEO of Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, said in an interview. “We offer this at a slightly smaller scale at our other sites for smaller volume commercial products. But here, we’re offering it at the larger scale, where we can fill millions of doses and package them and label them for distribution around the U.S. and the world.”

Fujifilm Diosynth, a subsidiary of Fujifilm, has operations in 25 states and as a result had plenty of options for its expansion. Holly Springs won out because of its technical talent, local resources and partners with the right competencies, Meeson said.

“There were some really strong bids,” Meeson said. “The support from the local community was really strong."

Fujifilm Diosynth operates another manufacturing site in the state, in Morrisville, and relied on established relationships to strike the deal.

RELATED: Fujifilm socks $2B into new U.S. site as its global CDMO ambitions take shape

The move comes as Fujifilm invests heavily in its CDMO business. In June of last year, the company announced a $928 million expansion of its site in Hillerod, Denmark, to double its cell culture manufacturing capacity and add drug product manufacturing. A year earlier, the company had purchased the former Biogen site for $890 million. 

Earlier this year, Fujifilm unveiled a $40 million investment in a viral-vector manufacturing facility in Watertown, Massachusetts. It joins Fujifilm sites in College Station, Texas, and the U.K. also engaged in viral-vector production.

Meanwhile, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Fujifilm has gotten involved in the response. The company partnered with Eli Lilly on antibody manufacturing and with Novavax on producing supplies for its promising COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

Fujifilm won't be the only major biopharma player in Holly Springs. Flu vaccine giant Seqirus operates a massive plant there as well.