Takeda lays out $126M to tap robotics, virtual reality and more at California production site

After recently opening one cell therapy plant and breaking ground on another in Massachusetts, Takeda is pivoting westward to beef up production in California.

The Japanese drugmaker is injecting $126 million into its Thousand Oaks facility to boost manufacturing and support new product lines, Pacific Coast Business Times first reported. Takeda was joined by the city’s mayor, Claudia Bill-de la Peña, for a groundbreaking event on Thursday, July 22.

The outlay will be used to grow Takeda's portfolio of treatments and boost capacity "to manufacture additional products for the rare disease community," Stephen Hatke, Takeda's Thousand Oaks site head, said in a YouTube video about the expansion. The company didn't name the specific products it plans to make there. 


As for the expansion itself, Takeda will build a new 15,000-square-foot manufacturing facility at the site and expand an existing 14,000-square-feet of production space. Takeda has been knocking around the Thousand Oaks area since 1996, the Business Times said.

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The company pinpointed Thousand Oaks for its expansion “based on capability, staffing as well as the local community and the things we could bring to the area,” Hatke, told the news outlet.

The site’s workforce currently stands 550-strong. Takeda plans to boost its headcount in Thousand Oaks, though nothing is certain, Hatke said, as quoted by the Business Times.

The manufacturing chief pointed to some of the cutting-edge technology Takeda will roll out at the upgraded facility, such as automation and robotics, plus virtual reality equipment and training.

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In Massachusetts, where the bulk of Takeda’s U.S. operations are based since the Shire buyout, the Japanese pharma has been swiftly ramping up its cell therapy ambitions. In September, the company cut the ribbon on a new 24,000-square-foot R&D manufacturing center in Boston, which it said at the time would handle clinical development for three ongoing pipeline programs and two other prospects pegged to enter clinical development by the end of 2021.

Earlier this year, the company revealed it had broken ground on a 38,000-square-foot commercial cell therapy plant in Lexington, Massachusetts, which is about 10 miles from downtown Boston. Takeda says the new $84 million plant will be used to make cell therapies for cancers and other diseases. That site will also tap robotics and virtual reality training, which Takeda says should help operators “learn in a virtual environment before they enter the real facility.”