Merck KGaA, on an expansion spree, plots raw materials production plant in Korea

A recent push by Merck KGaA to become a global CDMO powerhouse has brought the German company to South Korea, where it will build a biopharmaceutical raw materials production facility, the company said Wednesday.

Dubbed the Asia-Pacific BioProcessing Center and located in the growing life sciences hub of Daejeon City, the plant will support commercial manufacturing for biotech and pharma customers in the region.

Daejeon City and Korea’s Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy are helping fund the effort, according to a nonbinding memorandum of understanding, Merck KGaA said.

Merck said it will work with the government to support biotechs based in the Daedeok Research Complex and will establish research ties with leading Korean universities.

Announcing the effort at a press event in Daejeon was Merck KGaA’s Life Science CEO Matthias Heinzel, who called South Korea “an emerging global leader in the biotech industry.”

Last year, Merck KGaA established its Life Science Services unit—based in Massachusetts—to help grow its CDMO business. That move came a month after the company spent $780 million to acquire Indianapolis-based mRNA contract manufacturer Exelead.

In May, Merck plunked down $470 million to beef up its membrane manufacturing capacity in Carrigtwohill, Ireland, and build a new filtrating manufacturing plant nearby at Blarney Business Park. The projects will add 370 new jobs by 2027, the company said.

Also last year, the company opened the doors to a $65 million API manufacturing facility focused on cancer treatments in Verona, Wisconsin. Additionally, it unveiled a partnership between MilliporeSigma and Lotte—a Korean conglomerate that has embarked on a drugmaking mission—to build out Lotte’s U.S. biologics business.