Samsung plots $205B investment, massive hiring spree to ramp up CDMO, biosimilars and more

Samsung Biologics fill-finish
Samsung's CDMO will use the cash to branch out into vaccine and cell and gene therapy manufacturing. (Samsung Biologics)

With a self-proclaimed “Super Plant” already on the way in South Korea, Samsung Biologics CEO John Rim said in January that the CDMO’s expansion push was just getting started. He wasn’t kidding.

The manufacturer’s parent company Samsung Group is investing an eye-popping 240 trillion won ($205 billion) through 2023 across its biopharmaceutical, semiconductor and telecommunications businesses, among others, the company said in an emailed statement. 

The cash will help pave the way for future growth and "prepare for economic and societal changes beyond the post-COVID-19 era," the company said. It'll boost various Samsung outfits, including its biosimilars business Samsung Bioepis and its contract manufacturing unit Samsung Biologics, which recently started chipping in on production of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.

RELATED: AstraZeneca, Samsung reach $331M biologics manufacturing deal amid Korean CMO's expansion push

Under the expansion push, Samsung will recruit 40,000 new employees over the next couple of years. The company said it could potentially generate 560,000 jobs through "further investment and production."

The venture eclipses Samsung’s previous three-year investment plan of 180 trillion won ($154 billion), which it telegraphed in 2018.

This time around, Samsung will channel 180 trillion won ($154 billion) toward upgrades to domestic facilities and operations in its home country of Korea. Specifically, Samsung Biologics will build two new plants, dubbed Plant 5 and Plant 6, at its existing hub in Incheon.

Samsung Biologics currently operates three facilities there, with a fourth already on the way. That $2 billion “Super Plant” will fill as much space as Samsung’s other three plants combined, the company said last summer.

Under the latest investment, Samsung Biologics is angling to break into contract manufacturing for vaccines and cell and gene therapies, while its biosimilars unit will continue to build out its pipeline, the conglomerate said. 

Samsung also plans to "stimulate" the local bio-cluster by fostering bio-manufacturing talent, localizing the supply chain and providing tech support to biotechs, the company added.

RELATED: Samsung Biologics, AstraZeneca to dissolve biosimilar JV, scrap Rituxan copy program: report

Samsung has already started making its vaccine ambitions a reality. In May, the conglomerate’s CDMO Samsung Biologics signed on with Moderna for large-scale, commercial fill-finish work on the biotech’s mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

Just a few days later, Samsung Biologics said it would bring mRNA vaccine drug substance manufacturing online at its facility in Songdo, Incheon, in early 2022. The move will help Samsung Biologics branch out from its bread-and-butter focus in monoclonal antibodies, the company said back in June.

Meanwhile, Samsung Biologics CEO John Rim laid out big plans for the company at this year’s virtual J.P. Morgan healthcare conference in January. At the time, he noted the company’s Super Plant in Incheon was just the beginning, with ambitions to drive manufacturing into the U.S., then Europe, and eventually China.

The helmsman added that Samsung was looking to secure an additional campus in Incheon where it planned to set up four new manufacturing plants.